Worked With:

Joe Zee

Tyra Banks

Heidi Klum

Mike Starr

Brian Benben

Dana Delany

Rosanna Arquette

Steve Martin

William Shatner

Kevin Costner

Iman Biography

Home > Actresses > I > Iman > Biography

Birth Name: Iman
Born: 07/25/1955
Birth Place: Somalia

Iman Abdulmajid was born on July 25, 1955 in Mogadishu, Somalia. She was raised by progressive parents; her mother, a doctor, and her father, a Somali diplomat, sent Iman to a private Catholic school that they believed offered their daughter a better type of education than a standard Islamic school. Iman's modeling career began after celebrity photographer Peter Beard spotted her walking on a street in Kenya and asked her permission to be photographed. The then-20-year-old student hesitated initially, but she agreed after he reportedly offered to pay her the amount of her college tuition. Shortly after photos of Iman surfaced in the media in 1975, she moved to New York City and took the fashion world by storm with her striking features - long neck, copper-toned skin, exotic accent, and aristocratic grace. She became an overnight modeling sensation, singlehandedly breaking barriers that denied black women high-fashion magazine covers, makeup contracts, and haute-couture runway appearances. At the height of her career, Iman was sought-after by some of the most influential designers of the time, particularly the French couturier Yves Saint Laurent, who created an entire collection for her called "The African Queen." She also worked with many prominent photographers, including Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz.

After almost two decades in fashion, Iman quit modeling in 1989. She moved to Los Angeles, where she met the British rock icon, David Bowie. Iman, whose previous marriage to basketball star Spencer Haywood ended in 1987, dated Bowie for two years. In 1992, the couple initially married in Switzerland, then remarried in an Italian church two months later. Around this time, Iman became active in a number of charitable works, which included making a documentary, "Somalia Diary," that helped bring awareness to her war-torn native country. In 1994, Iman added businesswoman to her résumé. Frustrated by the lack of makeup shades designed for ethnic skin, Iman founded and became the face of her own cosmetics line for women of color. Like her modeling career, Iman's cosmetics line took off and was reportedly worth $25 million in 2010. After finding her niche in the retail industry, Iman went on to start a clothing line, Global Chic, for the Home Shopping Network. The label expanded to include an affordable line of handbags, jewelry and other accessories.

If being a supermodel and cosmetics mogul were not enough, Iman also ventured into acting. She had featured roles in the Academy Award-winning film "Out of Africa" (1985) alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, in the action drama "No Way Out" (1987), and portrayed a shape shifter in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991). In 1992, Iman's kissing scene with the late Michael Jackson in his video "Remember the Time" caused quite a stir, as it was the first time that the Prince of Pop ever locked lips with anyone onscreen. In 2007, Iman started hosting "Project Runway Canada" (Slice, 2007-09), the Canadian version of the hit American reality series, "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004-08; Lifetime, 2008- ), in which aspiring designers competed to break into the fashion industry. That role likely led to her being cast on "The Fashion Show," a series the network created to replace the void left by "Project Runway" when it moved to Lifetime. But as the answer to "Project Runway," season one of "The Fashion Show" fell short, due partly due to its former co-host/judge, singer Kelly Rowland, who was an unlikely choice to be a fashion authority. Iman, however, gave the show more credibility, and infused a much-needed dose of high fashion. Her prickly personality was also the perfect counterbalance to her exuberant co-host, designer Isaac Mizrahi. Iman's sharp wit and honest advice kept contestants on their toes, delivered memorable critiques, and helped propel the series into a bona fide hit.