Back in the mid-'70s, African American model Tracey "Africa" Norman hit a career high when she appeared on the box of Clairol's new hair color line "Born Beautiful," promoting a shade that was created to match her own, Dark Auburn 512. But that was when the world was not yet aware the Mr. Norman was transgender.
At that point, Ms. Auburn had a promising career, having also appeared in catalogs and fashion mags such as Italian Vogue, working with top photographers like Irving Penn. But just a few years in, during a shoot for Essence magazine, her modeling came to an abrupt halt when it was discovered on set that she was transgender.
35 years later, Ms. Norman is back in a campaign for Clairol's Nice 'n Easy via Grey New York, but this time as her full, real self in the brand's new "Color As Real As Your Are" campaign. Today Clairol released a video in which Norman finds herself back in New York's Pierre Hotel -- where she had her first big gig -- talking about her experiences being transgender and her love of modeling. She'll also appear in a print ad and her first TV commercial in January 2017.
The ad is a bold move from Clairol, and in some sense, a touching apology for the hardships Norman endured. It follows what's become a trend in marketers celebrating transgender rights, as we've seen just in the past couple weeks alone with Nike and Bud Light.