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Calvin Klein Collection - Runway - February 2017 - New York Fashion Week

Source: Pietro D’aprano / Getty

Supermodel Liya Kebede is not your typical beauty icon. Over the course of her career, not only has she made her presence known with campaigns for L’Oreal, Givenchy and Calvin Klein, Liya has set exceptional standards in the area of charity, which caused her to be recognized on Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People for her work in maternal health. Her foundation, The Liya Kebede Foundation has been supported by Bill Gates, L’Oreal Paris and her own fashion company, lemlem.

L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Celebration 2016 - Inside

Source: Brian Ach / Getty

Agency: IMG – New York

Viva Paris – Paris

d’management group – Milan

IMG London – London

Viva Barcelona – Barcelona

Iconic Management – Hamburg

IMG Australia – Sydney

Claim to fame: After moving to Paris at the age of 18, Liya’s modeling career made its mark when she first premiered on the runways for Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria. The entire May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue was dedicated to her.

Givenchy : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2017-2018

Source: Peter White / Getty

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Liya’s life took major changes after she was discovered in France. Over the years she has graced the covers of magazines all over the world and made history when she was noted as the first Black model for Estee Lauder in 2003.

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In addition to building her notoriety as a model, actress and designer, Liya decided to speak up for an importance cause in Africa. She founded the Liya Kebede Foundation in 2005 to help women in Africa who are faced with dire conditions when becoming new mothers. She was also appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal & Child Health by the World Health Organization to raise awareness on maternal health in Africa. The foundation has helped thousands of mothers give birth to healthy babies while creating powerful partnerships with other world health organizations to create a much needed impact on health care for African mothers.

Learn more about Liya’s awesome foundation here and keep with her on her Instagram page.


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For 2024’s iteration of MadameNoire and HelloBeautiful’s annual series Women to Know, we knew we wanted to celebrate the people who help make the joys of film and television possible. To create art is to create magic. This year, we spotlight Hollywood Executive’s changing the face of cinema.