17 Black Women Who Are Not Rihanna, Beyoncé, or Lupita Nyong’o ‘Vogue’ Should Feature on Its Cover


Rihanna walks on water like the goddess she is. (Photo: Vogue)

UPDATE 9/15/16: Lupita Nyong’o has nabbed herself the cover of Vogue’s October 2016 issue, making it her third for the magazine in three years. She previously appeared on last year’s October cover and fronted 2014′s July issue. Lupita happens to be another favorite of mine, so of course I am thrilled to see her in a triple play for Vogue, but sadly, her appearance does nothing for the magazine’s trend of using the same black celebrities, while missing out on several stars also doing big things. Lupita has a lot going on – she’s starring in Queen of Katwe, in theaters September 30. Her Vogue spread and the accompanying article take the reader to Nyong’o’s native Kenya, and is definitely worth a read – and a look.

In the piece itself, Nyong’o touches upon the importance of representation for people of color in Hollywood, a pressing cultural issue she is working to resolve. “There are certain cards that have been dealt me that I take on,” she said. “I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to do that. That is why Eclipsed and even Queen of Katwe are so important, to change the narrative, offer a new lens on African identity.”

It is phenomenal that Lupita is representing for beautiful, dark-skinned, kinky-haired women all over the world on Vogue. We can only hope that in the future, the magazine takes Lupita’s words to heart and creates opportunities for other people of color (we have several listed below) who are deserving, talented, and have yet to be featured on the cover.


Let’s just say it – Vogue magazine needs more black friends. Yesterday, the American iteration of the fashion bible revealed Rihanna as its April cover star. Now, I love Rihanna as much as anyone. “Work” and “Consideration” are pretty much my current life anthems right now. I have a picture of Rihanna in my bathroom, so every day I can look at her as I brush my teeth and draw strength from her inherent bada**ery. And as much as I love to see my personal faves on the cover in Vogue, it’s high time the magazine branched out beyond the minute handful of black women it chooses to feature on its covers.

It is a pattern I’ve noticed with the magazine — I’ve even written about it before. As I said back in September when Vogue featured the ever-gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o on its October cover, “It seems that when it comes to featuring women of color, Vogue has become quite fond of double (sometimes triple) dipping on the same celebrities. And it seems in the past four years (since 2011), Rihanna (three covers), Lupita, Beyoncé, and Serena [Williams] (two covers each) have been the mag’s black celebrities of choice.” Now, they have quadruple-dipped on Rihanna in 5 years.


A Vogue cover featuring Kerry Washington? We’d love to see that! (Photo: Getty)

This is not to say Rihanna isn’t doing anything worthy of a Vogue cover. The magazine has a habit of featuring celebrities its editors are fond of over and over again in general, but there are so many black female celebrities doing amazing things that it seems a little stale to feature the same ones so often — especially when there’s been a lot of conversation around the diversity, or lack thereof, of cover models on fashion magazines. It seems as if the folks at Vogue may need a little help identifying accomplished and talented black women who are doing big things right now, and I am happy to give it. Below, a short list of black women who aren’t Rihanna, Lupita, Beyoncé, or Serena — and who are just as deserving of a Vogue cover.

1. Kerry Washington — Actress known for her role on ABC’s Scandal who’s also starring in the upcoming HBO movie Confirmation as Anita Hill.

2. Taraji P. Henson — Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress best known for her role as Cookie Lyon in Empire. Henson is also slated to play NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in the upcoming film Hidden Figures.

3. Viola Davis — Renowned Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress and star of the hit ABC show How to Get Away With Murder.


What we think a Viola Davis Vogue cover might look like. (Photo: Getty)

4. Gabrielle Union — Actress and stylish woman-about-town, now starring in Being Mary Jane and slated to appear in the buzzy The Birth of a Nation film, which will tell the story of Nat Turner and the 1831 slave rebellion.

5. Danai Gurira — Actress on the AMC hit TV show The Walking Dead, and also a playwright. She’s the woman behind the Broadway hit Eclipsed (starring Vogue favorite Lupita Nyong’o), which she wrote, as well as the play Familiar.

6. Uzo Aduba — Two-time Emmy award-winning actress, and star of Orange Is the New Black.

7. FKA Twigs — Musician and Calvin Klein campaign model.

8. Zendaya — Socially conscious singer and actress who is set to appear in the Spider-Man reboot. She recently nabbed the cover of W magazine.

9. Gugu Mbatha-Raw — BAFTA Award-nominated actress.

10. Amandla Stenberg — Activist, actress, and creator of the comic book NIOBE: She Is Life.


Willow Smith would make an excellent muse for the magazine. (Photo: Getty)

11. Naomie Harris — Actress and James Bond movie star set to appear in the forthcoming Jungle Book film.

12. Willow Smith — Singer, artist, fashion darling, face of Chanel and Marc Jacobs, and current W magazine cover star. Plus, she’s the daughter of Hollywood royalty, and you know fashion loves a good celebrity offspring feature.

13. Tessa Thompson — Actress who starred in the hit film Creed.

14. Tracee Ellis Ross — Star of the hilarious and smart ABC sitcom Black-ish, and daughter of culture and fashion icon Diana Ross.

15. Ayesha Curry — Wife of Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry and viral social media queen boasting 2.6 million followers on Instagram.


Taraji P. Henson is a Vogue cover just waiting to happen. (Photo: Getty)

16. Zoë Kravitz — Actress, model, Lolawolf frontwoman, and designer muse who has appeared in campaigns for Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, Coach, T by Alexander Wang, and more. She’s also the daughter of rocker Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet.

17. Ciara — Singer and designer muse who appeared in Roberto Cavalli’s Fall 2015 campaign.

As you can see, there are numerous black women (more than the ones listed above) who would be great subjects for a Vogue cover feature. We understand that Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lupita, and Serena sell magazines, but it’s impossible that they are the only black women who do. It’s high time Vogue dipped into the vast pool of talented and worthy black female celebrities out there. We hope this cheat sheet helps.

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