Meet Deddeh Howard, a 27-year-old model, medical student, and fashion blogger raised in Liberia but living in Los Angeles.
While she has a successful modeling career, she also knows that there is a lack of diversity in some of the biggest campaigns throughout the world.
As a call for more diversity, she collaborated with her photographer boyfriend Raffael Dickreuter to re-create some of the world’s biggest modeling campaigns — including ones by Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria’s Secret — in a series called Black Mirror.
“I thought it was perfect because we are mirroring two images” she said. “When you [black women] look in the mirror you question: ‘This could be me, why is this not me?’”
The series, which took about three months to create, was inspired by the discrimination she faced as a model — and she’s not alone.
“Agencies would often tell me, ‘We like your look but there’s a black girl already,’” she said. “It shouldn’t be limited to just one black girl; there can be more than one!”
“It’s as if the agencies are ashamed to represent diversity,” she continued. “It’s very painful and it made me feel insecure and bad of myself.”
With Black Mirror, she wants to send a message that models of color, are just as gorgeous as anyone else, and should be at the forefront of campaigns.
“There are many beautiful black models and they are not represented the way they should be,” she said.
Dickreuter said they worked hard to make their photos match the real campaigns as accurately as possible.
For example, it took two months to find a similar motorcycle for the re-creation of the Guess advertisement featuring Gigi Hadid.
He said he is “very proud” of Howard and “thrilled” they managed to pull the project off.
Gathering the right clothes and accessories was “quite difficult,” but Howard said it was definitely worthwhile.
Despite Black Mirror only having been live for a short period of time, Howard said the response has been amazing and she’s thrilled at the attention that is being brought to the issue.
“More equal visibility of all races, being it white, black, Asian, Latino, etc. would help all of us believing in our potential,” she said.
“I hope to show the world that it is time for all of us being seen,” she continued. “Just like a Gisele Bündchen, Kate Moss, or Candice Swanepoel gets to travel the world, shoot the most amazing campaigns and live an exciting life to inspire young girls, let’s give the next generation something to believe in.”