In the early 1900s, the modeling industry, like many other American institutions were predominantly white. Sometimes in order for a melanated person to pursue their dreams they had to break the rules a little, which brings me to the story of Ophelia DeVore, a black women with German and Indian ancestry, raised in South Carolina, she eventually moved to New York with a family member to pursue her dream of becoming a model.
With segregation and racism still being such a large part of American culture she had to hide the fact that she was a black woman in order to gain acceptance into the school of her choice, New York City’s Vogue school of modeling. In the early 1940s, modeling jobs for her came far and few between. In 1945, the Ebony Magazine was created and expressed a need for black models.
Even though this new opportunity was available and provided employment she knew they deserved a larger platform to showcase their talents. In 1946, along with four other friends she decided to do something about it, forming the Grace Del Marco Modeling Agency.
The agency became an entry point for a lot of future models and actors including Diahann Carrol and Cicely Tyson, to name a few. Not only did she open the door for melanated people in the modeling industry but also in media, creating The Columbus Times, a newspaper based out of Columbus, GA that tackled difficult issues facing the black community. Ophelia DeVore is a shining example of what can be done when creating your own reality is your ultimate goal.