Deddeh Howard was flipping through a magazine looking for ideas for her fashion blog when she noticed "there were simply no black models in there," she tells Mic. It didn't come as much of a surprise given that Howard, 27, had been rejected by modeling agencies claiming to already have one or two black models—though they presumably had no quota on white models—but it was the final straw. For the next three months, Howard and her boyfriend, photographer Raffael Dickreuter, worked to recreate ads for "brands that truly never or almost never use black models" in what she dubs the Black Mirror project, reports BuzzFeed. In place of white models like Gisele Bundchen, Gigi Hadid, and Kate Moss, Howard subbed herself.
"Nothing prepared us for the big wave of response we got," says the Los Angeles-based model, born in Liberia. "People are telling me that I'm an inspiration to them and it feels unreal," she adds. "It almost seems it started a movement." And that was exactly her goal, she says, noting that a move toward diversity will happen only when customers begin to speak out. Howard has already noticed a small change: Offers from agencies are now flooding in, she tells TMZ, though she says she's still evaluating which agency is best for her. It's "crazy exciting," but the work is not done. "There are many beautiful black models and they are not represented the way they should be," she says. "It is time for all of us [to be] seen," she tells the BBC. (This stat backs her up.)