Liya Kebede (born January 3, 1978) is an Ethiopian model, maternal health advocate, clothing designer and actress who has appeared three times on the cover of US Vogue . According to Forbes, Kebede was eleventh-highest-paid top model in the world in 2007.Since 2005, Kebede has served as the WHO's Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
Kebede's big break came when Tom Ford asked her for an exclusive contract for his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show.Her popularity in the fashion industry sky-rocketed when she appeared on the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue, which dedicated the entire issue to her.
Kebede has been seen on the covers of Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue, V, Flair, i-D and Time's Style & Design. Kebede has been featured in ad campaigns including those for Shiatzy Chen, Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent,Victoria's Secret, Emanuel Ungaro, Tommy Hilfiger,Revlon,Dolce & Gabbana, Escada and Louis Vuitton. In 2003, Kebede was named the newest face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first Ethiopian to serve as their representative in the company's 57-year history.Her contract was rumored to be for $3 million dollars.
In 2005, Kebede was appointed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
In 2009, Kebede starred in the film-adaption of the bestselling autobiography Desert Flower by former supermodel Waris Dirie. The film recounts Dirie's childhood in Somalia, her rise to stardom and subsequent awareness campaign against female circumcision. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival and received a standing ovation.Kebede has also had minor roles in two films: The Good Shepherd and Lord of War.