Vanity Fair Cover Is By A Black Photographer For The First Time

Marina Fang
·2-min read

Vanity Fair has commissioned a Black photographer to shoot its cover for the first time, an overdue step for a magazine that has long weathered criticism for a lack of diverse racial representation in its pages.

The cover of the magazine’s July/August issue, featuring actor Viola Davis, was shot by photographer Dario Calmese, whose photo of Davis aims to reimagine her as “as both the Black Madonna — associated with empowerment, transformation and change — as well as the Greek Goddess Athena — who represents justice, triumph and wisdom.”

“This image reclaims that narrative, transmuting the white gaze on Black suffering into the Black gaze of grace, elegance, and beauty,” he said in the magazine.

The image was inspired by an 1863 photograph of Peter Gordon, a runaway Black enslaved person, featured in a special issue of Harper’s Weekly during the Civil War.

In the accompanying cover story, Davis herself pointed out the long-standing lack of Black representation on the iconic magazine’s covers.

“They’ve had a problem in the past with putting Black women on the covers,” Davis said. “But that’s a lot of magazines, that’s a lot of beauty campaigns. There’s a real absence of dark-skinned Black women. When you couple that with what’s going on in our culture, and how they treat Black women, you have a double whammy. You are putting us in a complete cloak of invisibility.”

“Davis is...

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