Donyale Luna: Super Model, a new documentary on Max is a captivating and long-awaited tribute to a trailblazing icon of the fashion world. Donyale Luna, the first African-American supermodel, broke barriers and shattered stereotypes in the 1960s with her striking beauty and unique presence.
Born in 1945 in Detroit, Michigan, Luna’s journey from a working-class background to becoming the first African-American supermodel is a testament to her determination and unique allure. Her striking features, including her mesmerizing eyes and statuesque frame, captured the attention of legendary photographers such as Richard Avedon and David Bailey, catapulting her to international fame in the 1960s.
Luna is best known as the “first black super model” after becoming the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue in 1969. She also collaborated with Andy Warhol and appeared in several underground films. Luna’s collaboration with Andy Warhol is a fascinating chapter in both of their artistic journeys. She starred in a series of Warhol’s avant-garde films, including “Screen Test #2” and “Camp,” where her enigmatic presence and charisma were on full display. Luna also featured in small roles in Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966), Federico Fellini’s Satyricon, and Otto Preminger’s Skidoo (1968).
In addition to highlighting her unique and varied career, Donyale Luna: Super Model also takes on the racism that Luna was subjected to, both in the U.S. and in Europe. At times, Luna appears to obscure her racial and ethnic background as a coping mechanism.
Donyale Luna’s life was tragically cut short when she passed away on May 17, 1979, at the age of 33. Luna’s untimely death occurred in Rome, Italy, and the circumstances surrounding it remain the subject of some mystery and controversy. She died of a heroin overdose, a tragic end to a career that had once dazzled the world. Luna’s passing marked the premature loss of a pioneering figure in the fashion industry, whose striking beauty and iconic presence had broken racial barriers and paved the way for greater diversity and inclusivity in modeling. Despite the circumstances of her death, Donyale Luna’s legacy continues to live on through her enduring impact on fashion, film, and the ongoing push for representation and equality in the world of beauty and entertainment.
With Max’s meticulous storytelling and commitment to celebrating Luna’s legacy, this documentary promises to be an essential and empowering exploration of a true pioneer in the world of fashion. Watch Donyale Luna: Super Model, now out on MAX.