Top model Imaan Hammam takes the cover story of WSJ. Magazine‘s May 2022 edition lensed by fashion photographer Nadine Ijewere. In charge of styling was Kate Phelan, with casting direction from Piergiorgio Del Moro, and production by Unnati Agarwal and Hen’s Tooth Productions. Beauty is work of hair stylist Shiori Takahashi, and makeup artist Grace Ahn.
On her parent’s reaction to her decision to become a model:
Her father, a classical musician who had immigrated to Amsterdam from Cairo, was reluctant to allow his teenage daughter to pursue a modeling career. “That’s because I come from a Muslim family,” she says. “My dad just didn’t really understand it.” But Hammam’s mother did get it. She says her mother thought, “‘My daughter’s going to go to a foreign country and do something good.’ And her support gave me the strength to feel like, I got to do this for my family. We weren’t the richest,” she says.
On waiting until she was 16 before beginning her career:
“Then I was like, I’m grabbing this with two hands and I’m going to work my ass off.”
On diversity in the fashion industry:
“My favorite part of the job now is working with more women of color,” she says, citing friends including models Paloma Elsesser and Adut Akech. “I remember when I started, it was competitive,” pointing out that often only one model of color would get cast for any given job. This is no longer the case. “We support each other and lift each other up,” says Hammam, who now lives in New York City. “And I think that’s what the fashion industry should be.”
Hammam on She’s the First, a charity that prioritizes education for girls around the world, with which she became involved 4 years ago:
Through She’s the First, she traveled to Gambia in 2019 and met with girls through Starfish International who were the first members of their families to receive a formal education. More trips are in the works.
“I’m the first [child] in my family that went to a foreign country and went to pursue a career,” she says. “So I was like, Oh, my God, this just fits perfect.”
This article is featured in WSJ. Magazine’s May issue out on newsstands Saturday, April 30th. Photography © Nadine Ijewere for WSJ. Magazine, read more at wsj.com