When it was finally told, Tracey "Africa" Norman's story proved both inspiring and heartbreaking, but along with newfound attention, her story brought with it a second chance.
Norman was a successful fashion model in the '70s and early-80s, that is until her secret—she was transgender—was revealed, abruptly ending her career. But during the height of her success, she was on a box of Clairol, bearing the words, "Born Beautiful."
Those words resonated with Laverne Cox, who, upon learning of Norman's legacy, would just stare at her photo and the caption beneath it. “Yeah, we are born beautiful,” Cox recalled.
After publication of Tracey Norman's story in New York Magazine, Norman finally met Cox, as well as another pioneering trans model, Andreja Pejic, who "congratulated me for opening that door." She tells The Cut:
"I had a big, giant Kool-Aid smile on my face that people in this younger generation know who I am and have appreciated my work and recognized me as the pioneer. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the recognition.”
Tracey also received recognition from her old employer Clariol, who reached out to the almost-64-year-old stunner to appear on another box, some 40 years after she had quietly opened that door. But this time, it's different.
“As a model, I was hiding my truth, and when I got the job it was very exciting for me,” Norman said. “I was being accepted for who I am and they wanted me as the person that I am today to represent them. And I just thought that was fantastic.”
Get ready to feel all the feels as Tracey tells her story in the vid below: