Year: 1968

Naomi Sims didn't become a successful model just because she was a pretty face. After getting turned down for gigs by modeling agencies who felt her skin was "too dark" Sims took it upon herself to seek out fashion photographers directly, which paid off when New York Times photographer Gosta Petersen put her in the paper's fashion supplement in 1967. Afterward, Sims linked up with former model Wilhelmina Cooper, who was starting a fashion agency of her own. Initially, Cooper declined to represent Sims, but Sims told the veteran model that she would send out copies of the NYT piece, and if she got hired based on that work, the two would share the profits. It only took a year to book Naomi Sims' first cover on the November 1968 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, and the first black supermodel's career was officially established.