Malaika Firth, a bi-racial black woman who is half Kenyan and British, was born in the Kenyan city of Mombassa and raised in the United Kingdom.
The 19-year-old, who also boasts Ugandan, Swiss, and Seychellois ancestry, appears in the latest Prada seasonal ad series with 44-year-old supermodel Christy Turlington among other faces.
Fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell was the last black woman to be featured in a Prada ad campaign in 1994.
Firth is “proud and happy”
Firth told The Telegraph that she is “extremely proud and happy” to be following in the footsteps of the pioneering black supermodel. Naomi Campbell was one of the first black models to receive international recognition.
According to The Telegraph, Firth’s Kenyan mother introduced her daughter to the world of modeling after being inspired by the documentary The Model Agency, which aired in the U.K. in 2011.
She then attained representation by Premier Models at the age of 17 due to her unique bone structure.
On race in fashion
Other models of color who have worked for Prada include Britain’s Jourdan Dunn, who once walked in a Prada fashion show in 2008.
Asian models have been sparingly selected by Prada in recent years.
The label almost never uses black models for the runway, typically casting mostly whites for its live presentations.
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This is typical of the fashion world, which has come under frequent fire for a lack of diversity on its runways and in the pages of magazines.
“Nearly 90% of the models cast to walk in the fall 2013 runway shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris were white,” states one outlet about this phenomenon.