You are here

Where Are They Now? 6 Groundbreaking Supermodels

The first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue, the first plus-size supermodel, and the former face of Halston, way before Sarah Jessica Parker made the label chic again—these are all milestones made by groundbreaking fashion models Beverly Johnson, Alva Chinn, and Emme. But where are they now? We caught up with six former supermodels to find out what they are up to (bestselling books! haircare lines!) and how they are staying healthy and fit. 

Beverly Johnson
In 1974, she was the first black model to land the coveted cover of Vogue magazine and went on to grace more than 500 others. The New York Times has called her one of the 20th century’s most influential people in fashion, and she has been honored at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball. But 59-year-old Beverly Johnson shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The woman who forever changed the face of the fashion industry is now an entrepreneur with her own namesake collection of hair extensions and wigs. On the heels of the success of the hair line, Johnson is now launching a multi-cultural line of styling products called Model Logic in Target stores nationwide and also offers skincare products on her new e-commerce website BeverlyJohnson.com.

“I wanted to be more than just the face on the box or the name to help sell the product. It was time to really share my secrets, formulas, talent pool of resources, and lessons learned throughout my decades as a model and actress,” Johnson says.

We also asked the beauty what she does to keep herself in supermodel form. “I stay abreast of all the latest health and beauty advice and finding my fitness passion of playing golf has been an incredible lifesaver, providing me with physical and mental nourishment,” Johnson says.

Alva Chinn
Another groundbreaking African-American supermodel, Alva Chinn was once the face of Halston, at a time when fashion houses were not typically using black models. She went on to appear in several blockbuster movies like Bright Lights, Big City and Regarding Henry.

The understated Chinn has since left the Hollywood scene to live a quiet life in New York City, raising her son, modeling occasionally, and teaching yoga.

“I teach several forms of yoga and Pilates to the over 50-set,” Chinn says. “My focus is core strength, flexibility, building breath capacity, alignment, and an overall sense of well-being!”

Emme
She’s undeniably the world’s first full-figured supermodel and further cemented that title when she signed on as the face of Revlon—the first plus-size model to sign a contract with a major cosmetics company. When she was chosen as one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, 47-year-old Emme changed the ‘shape’ of fashion forever.

We caught up with the curvy beauty who speaks out on body image issues and arts funding in schools. “We live in a society that promotes a desire for thinness at any cost in the quest for the attainment of unrealistic beauty,” Emme says. “I want women to know their self-esteem is not contingent upon their dress size and good health is attainable by more than just one body type.”

Roshumba
The first African-American model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, 43-year-old Roshumba is now a regular fixture on many TV shows and her book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model, is in its second printing.

The New York City resident tells SHAPE that staying in supermodel form is easy. “I eat a balanced diet, walk a lot, lift weights, and do yoga,” Roshumba says. “But what’s most important [to me] is to stay healthy and beautiful on the inside by minimizing stress and having gratitude for everything [I have].”

Veronica Webb
In the ‘90s, she was the first African-American supermodel to obtain an exclusive contract with Revlon. Since then, 46-year-old Veronica Webb remains a fashion force to be reckoned with and her TV and movie credits are too extensive to name.

The mom of two recently ran the New York City Marathon for the third time and became a spokesperson for CIRCA, which aims to help consumers better understand the “horrific effects mining for diamonds has on the environment.”

How is she staying fit? “A little running, a little stretching, and healthy eating changes your life for the better every time you do it," she says.

Carré Otis
In 2000, she became one of the oldest models to have posed in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at the age of 30. After taking a long hiatus from modeling to battle drug addiction, anorexia, and deal with a tumultuous marriage to actor Mickey Rourke, 42-year-old Carré Otis reemerged healthier, stronger, and more beautiful than ever. Just last fall, she shared her struggles in her memoir Beauty Disrupted.

Now, the practicing Buddhist finds solace in her religion and regularly practices yoga at her Colorado home.

More on SHAPE.com