Liya Kebede (born March 1, 1978) is an Ethiopian model and actress who has been featured in ad campaigns for Victoria's Secret. She re-located to New York when she gained fame as an international supermodel.
Liya is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopa. The story goes that she was at a French school when a film director decided that she had 'the look' and hooked her up with a modelling agent. This ultimately led her to Paris, and then, after her modelling career took off, New York. She was doing okay as a model, but then Tom Ford signed her to an exclusive contract to walk in the Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. This gained her all sorts of fame in the business, and that only gained momentum when she appeared on the cover of the May 2002 Paris Vogue.
Liya has all all sorts of covers to her credit, primarily in Europe and America but also some in Asia as well. Just the ones in the United States and the United Kingdom are impressive enough:
Liya has all sorts of first to her name, among them becoming the first African model to represent Esteé Lauder cosmetics. She also branched out into helping the United Nations, becoming a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She promotes this cause by writing articles online and for some magazines, and has her own Lily Kebede Foundation.
Liya also has branched out into acting.Her first film role was in 'Lord of War' in 2005. Since then, she has appeared in a string of films, most prominently in the role of supermodel Waris Dirie in the 2009 film 'Desert Flower.' Other films include 'Black Gold' in 2011 and 'The Best Offer' in 2013.
Among her many interests is fashion design. Liya has a clothing line, 'Lemlem,' which means 'to bloom' in Amharic. The line is sold at many top retailers, including Barney's. It features native craftsmanship from Ethiopia. Liya is married to Ethiopian money manager Kassy Kebede and they have a son and a daughter.