In the magazine’s 106-year history, Vanity Fair marked a historic milestone for their July/August issue. The cover photo that features Emmy Award actress Viola Davis, is the first taken by a Black photographer Dario Calmese.
What We Know:
- Dario Calmese told the New York Times that the cover image of Viola Davis facing her back to the camera and gazing over her shoulder invoked “The Scourged Back” which is a historic 1963 image of a slave with a web of whipping scars on his back. This is Calmese’s biggest accomplishment when it comes to fashion media.
- Photographer Calmese is a St. Louis native who has mostly centered his work in an art studio in the South Bronx for almost a decade. According to Daily News, this is not the first job Dario Calmese has held with Vanity Fair. The talented photographer, who holds a master’s degree from the School of Visual Arts, was in charge of the feature on gender-bending Broadway, Billy Porter.
- He said the following statement when asked about the historic cover:
“For me this cover is my protest. But not a protest in ‘look at how bad you’ve been to me, and I’m angry, and I’m upset.’ Rather, it’s: ‘I’m going to rewrite this narrative. I’m just going to take ownership of it.”
- Vanity Fair released the powerful cover and Oscar winner Davis said the following:
“My entire life has been a protest. My production company is my protest. Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest. It is part of my voice, just like introducing myself to you and saying, ‘Hello, my name is Viola Davis.'”
- The powerful message behind the July/August cover brought Twitter users to react in a positive way with the following statements:
- Over the years, many fashion magazines have been widely criticized by how powerful Black women have been depicted based on their body or looks and not as a powerful story that shows the resilience of the people of color. Outlets such as Vogue, have seen backlash regarding the lack of Black photographers and how they pictured USA gold medalist, Simone Biles on their August issue.
- The tragic death of George Floyd and many innocent people of color have impacted the country to act and fight against systemic racism and police brutality. Many companies such as, Google and Starbucks have pledge to hire more minorities to high level positions.
The Editor in Chief, Radhika Jones released a statement on their milestone for the July/August cover and recognizing the talent people of color bring and stating the real issue on fighting systemic racism.