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Jourdan Dunn on the Scarcity of Black Models: ‘I Do a Show and I Look Around and It’s Just Me’

A recent guest on Britain’s Jonathan Ross Show, Jourdan Dunn discussed learning to catwalk as a teenager in eight-inch hooker heels (purchased for the aspiring model by her mother, who also referred to them as hooker heels), noting, “Once I got to New York, for an hour straight, they tied my hands behind my back and said, ‘Alright, Jourdan — up and down, up and down,’ until I had tears in my eyes. It was that serious. [laughs] It was fine!” Another anecdote from her early days: A former model roommate left a pregnancy test laying around their apartment and told their agency it belonged to Dunn.

Ross steered the conversation in more thought-provoking direction, asking Dunn what it’s like to be black in the industry, to which she responded, “I do a show and I look around and it’s just me.” Asked if she’s encountered any prejudice, Dunn admitted, “There’s been a few situations” — for example, she was running late to a show and both her hair and makeup had to be done at the same time, “so the hairstylists were already starting my hair, and the makeup artist came along. She didn’t think I could hear — she was like, ‘I don’t want to do her makeup … because she’s black and I’m white and I’m not comfortable and I just don’t want to do it’ … they were like, ‘Just do it,’ and she came to me and I was like, ‘No, I don’t want you to.’”

Dunn continued: “Here’s my thing — if you’re a makeup artist, you should be able to do any types; if you’re a hairstylist, you should be able to do any type of hair. It’s just hair. It’s just skin … you need to know your shh-tuff.” No shh-kidding.

Jourdan Dunn on the Scarcity of Black Models