Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ophelia DeVore, the Charm School Lady


I read the AP's Big Story blog a lot for my job and last week, I found a great little bit of history I wanted to share. They ran a feature about Ophelia DeVore, a Georgia model turned businesswoman who wanted to change how black Americans were perceived and groom, often literally, for success.

DeVore's eclectic career spanned more than six decades, beginning as a model at 16 and continuing into her 90s today as the owner of a newspaper in Georgia. Along the way, she opened one of the first modeling agencies for black models, established a charm school for black women to present themselves more effectively and launched a cosmetics line for darker complexions.


Stunning. Also, I have similar earrings from the 50s


She and her modeling agency helped create celebrities like Richard Roundtree, Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carroll. Now, a collection of her papers, from newspaper collections to letters from celebrities, programs, anything you can imagine, is being donated to Emory University. I love this highlight from a telegram DeVore got from Lena Horne in the early 80s that said "It is true that you knew how beautiful black can be before the concept became commercial. More significantly, you did something about it."

Her story is so inspiring; she went from being one of nine children in the backwoods of South Carolina to doing all of this. She seems like an incredible lady and I'm glad her story is getting more attention.

6 comments:

  1. I love stories like this, they involve much more interesting people than many of the celebrities today.

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  2. Ophelia DeVore story is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing her story! :-)

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  3. Never heard of her before. with a name like hers, she borne to be a star. Another woman breaking barriers.

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  4. First time a heard about her! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Women can do anything! Love the telegram that Lena Horne sent her. Word! :)
    xoxo
    Marla

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Thanks so much for your comments!