Welcome to the ninth article in our 2019 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
The next person featured in our series is fashion designer and model, Isis King.
Isis King was born October 1, 1985, in Annapolis Maryland, and she is a graduate of the Art School of Philadelphia for design and illustration.
— Isis King (@MsIsisKing) May 24, 2019
While living in New York, King’s career took off after getting discovered and encouraged to try out for America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). The popular show was holding a photoshoot for its tenth season, which was going to focus on addressing the problem of homelessness. And the background models were homeless women in a program run by the Ali Forney Center, a shelter that helps LGBTQ+ youth. King was one of those women; she was noticed by the art director and was later encouraged by Tyra Banks to try out. She was the first transgender woman to compete on ANTM in season 11, and then she returned for the All-Stars season.
Her appearance on the show was hailed by former GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) president Neil Guiliano as an “unprecedented opportunity for a community that is underrepresented on television.” Because of the close living arrangements with the other contestants, we saw King’s hormone injections, the nausea effects they had on her, and the contestants’ reactions to her struggles. King discussed her experiences in an interview with Teen Vogue:
It’s not a new topic. Trans people have always been around, we’re just regular people. The more the world is aware of that, the easier everyone’s lives will be. The more the world is aware of that, it will be less likely for a family to kick their child out for being trans, and it will be more likely for a trans person to get a job. We’re creative, we’re funny, we’re smart, and we’re leaders. It just takes that one person who believes in you and decides to give you that opportunity.
King has also appeared on other TV shows like The Bold and the Beautiful, Strut, Shameless, and When They See Us.
King continues to work as a model, actress, fashion designer, and motivational speaker. She uses her platform and her voice to discuss her life experiences, as well as the importance of representation in fashion and media. In an interview on Hey Qween, while talking about transgender issues, King said, “We keep going backwards and we really just need to work together. We can no longer not talk about race issues and trans issues.”
Today, King is a board member of the very organization that helped land her a position on ANTM, the Ali Forney Foundation. She is the only one on the board who has gone through the organization. And in the fashion world, King was the first transgender person to work with American Apparel, and she continues to design fashion.
Isis King is a strong woman making a difference in LGBTQ+ community, by positively impacting mainstream media and the fashion world as a whole. She is a strong influence and important role model that we can all look up to, which is why she is included in our 2019 Pride series.
Check out the rest of our 2019 Pride month series here.