The First Black, Transgender Model Is Getting A New Contract

Back in December, The Cut published a cover story about Tracey "Africa" Norman, the first transgender, Black model in the industry. According to the outlet, since the article's publication Norman has been profiled by the London Times, attended the GLAAD awards, was honored at Newark Gay Pride, and had the chance to meet Laverne Cox and Andreja Pejić — both of whom sang her praises. (We even featured her as one of 29 women changing the beauty world.) In a fitting turn of events, Norman's newest venture brings the 63-year-old's epic modeling career full circle: Clairol just announced that she's coming back to model for the brand.

Norman is being tapped by the hair company to star in its new Nice 'n Easy Color As Real As You Are campaign. For those who aren't familiar with the model's story, she kept her identity as transgender a secret throughout the majority of her career. She appeared on Clairol's "Born Beautiful" box back in the '70s, making under-the-radar history. When she was eventually outed, her time in the business quickly came to an end. Now, her modeling career is getting a second life after a decades-long hiatus.

“Our new 'Color As Real As You Are' campaign celebrates the confidence that comes from embracing what makes you unique and using natural color to express yourself freely," says Clairol global associate brand director Heather Carruthers. "We’re honored to bring back Tracey Norman as a woman who no longer has to hide her truth. Her warm, genuine spirit and authentic approach to life make her a natural fit for the campaign.”

The biggest difference between modeling then and now for Norman? She's a lot less stressed. "Modeling now is a lot more relaxing. Modeling back in the 1970s was a little tense for me because I was hiding my truth and was betraying myself and getting jobs as a female," she said in a statement. "Now, it’s a lot more comfortable for me and I don’t have to hide behind my truth.”

Watch the video below to hear Norman's story in her own words. As her story proves, living your truth can lead to beautiful things.
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