Owner of one of the first African American modeling agencies, Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell was a native of Edgefield, South Carolina. She relocated to New York City in the 1930s with her family. It was there she would enter into the Vogue School of Modeling at the age of seventeen. Ophelia would model for seven years before deciding to open up her own modeling agency to aid African American in overcoming society’s stereotypes and succeed in the fashion world.
The Grace del Marco Model Agency opened in 1946, and in 1948 the Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell School of Self Development and Modeling would open for business. Her notable clients included legendary performers Dianne Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Faith Evans, Gail Fisher, and Susan Taylor. Passionate about the exposure of African Americans in fashion, Mrs. DeVore-Mitchell would start a fashion column in the Pittsburgh Courier eventually expanding to the Columbus Times in Georgia. Not stopping there, she would create a cosmetics line in 1959. Her business ventures include but aren’t limited to television production, board and committee member of various agencies, including the resident’s advisory committee for the Kenny Center for the Performing Arts.
Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell passed away on February 28, 2014 in New York. She was 92 years old.
Sources: Potter, J. (2009). African American Firsts: Famous, Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp.
The Visionary Project
Cover Image Credit: New York Times