Billie Blair: From Runway to Pulpit.

Mai Welborn
Dec 16, 2017 · 3 min read

For this particular subject, I decided to write for the publication Essence Magazine.

Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, former nursing student and former supermodel Billie Blair began modeling in her 20's, starting off booking for shows locally around Detroit, which typically booked models for the Cobo Hall and auto shows. Aside from that, Blair is well known for her work at The Battle of Versailles fashion show in 1973. Aside from that, she landed a job in New York City where she was photographed in Central Park.

Billie Blair in the 1970s

Landing her big break at 27 years old, Billie Blair was considered “not normal” as a supermodel because she was African American and her age was considered “too old” to begin modeling, lowering her chances of being a household name for future years. For about 20 years, Blair remained a model and credits her glamorous career for being the reason why she began ministering.

“I said The Lord’s Prayer every morning and every night before I went to bed. I said the 23rd Psalm. I’d go to church every Sunday. Morally, basically, I was a good person,” she said. “As I was traveling all over the world, I would say I was a ‘Christianette,’ because I did say my prayers. …” — Billie Blair (Source:

To me, going from modeling to ministering, is a little strange, but in a good way because those to professions are so different from one another. Reading about Billie’s story and background made me feel so connected to her being a black woman, born and raised in Michigan, being a Christian, and being a model as well (just not professionally). Her story is inspiring and unique because today, we don’t even hear about models who turn over and begin being active in a church setting or are truly religious.

Today, Billie resides in Defiance, Ohio, still ministering and is far removed from modeling industry, although she will always be a known a one of the first African American model who has paved a way for black models today.

Mai Welborn

Written by

Fashion stylist + life observer.

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