Tracey “Africa” Norman was the face of the popular personal care brand Clairol in the '70s, but no one knew she was transgender at the time. Signed to a top model agency, she hid her secret from the world and dreaded the day it would come to light.
Recently, it did. That story was detailed here, about how she lived a double life and often lied about her gender identity to protect herself from rumors and career sabotage. Norman didn't emerge from her private life to speak about it until last year.
So unknown, in fact, that the current heads of Clairol were blindsided by the revelation—and they're correcting the wrongs of the past as best they can.
After 40 years, Norman is returning to be the face of the brand's hair color campaigns again. Now 63, (and looking gorgeous as ever), both Norman and Clairol are excited for the opportunity.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for me to come back and be the true me,” Norman tells People Style. “It’s just amazing to me that this huge company has opened the door for me to allow me to represent them and my true being and I don’t have to worry about being rejected.”
“Laverne Cox has a strong voice and she’s been expressing it,” she expressed. “And Caitlyn Jenner, who has already been involved in peoples’ lives and is being able to live her truth in the public eye. I believe that was the strongest catalyst that opened the door to what brought light to the transgender community.”
How does she feel about the current current 'trans' trend in mainstream media?
“It’s just like back in the ’70s when redheads were hot, [the industry] was hiring just redheads," she said. "When African American women started being hot commodities, they started hiring African American women. And then blondes became hot again. It all comes in phases. So if an opportunity for a transgender female were to come, I definitely would tell her to walk through that door.”
And she looks forward to more doors being open, too.
“I’m going to be turning 64, so if an opportunity knocks, I’m going to walk through that door again,” she said to People Style. “That has been my motto since the beginning, so I’m just going to live by how I do things. If there is another opportunity, such as to represent a makeup line, yes, I would definitely walk through that door.”
We definitely hope to see more of you around, too! #BeautyGoals