The late Ophelia DeVore died last February, leaving behind a rich legacy in the modeling field and setting a new standard for Black beauty. DeVore was one of the first successful Black models and used her platform to help shape the careers of Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson among several others.
DeVore was born on this day in 1921 in Edgefield, S.C. A mixed-race woman, DeVore was of African-American, Native-American and European descent. She discovered modeling as a teenager while living in New York. Because of her fair skin, she was able to enter the Vogue School of Modeling and graduated without incident. DeVore later discovered the only reason she made it through because the school assumed she was a white woman.
After graduating, DeVore began doing print work for Ebony Magazine. In 1946, just eight years into her career, she co-founded the Grace Del Marco modeling agency. The agency represented the aforementioned Carroll and Tyson, but also later represented a dashing young model by the name of Richard Roundtree. Roundtree would go on to star in the action thriller Shaft among other films.
The agency also represented popular supermodel Helen Williams, actress Gail Fisher, and newswoman Trudy Haynes.