On the season premiere of Tyra Banks’ hit show America’s Next Top Model, transgender contestant Isis King returned as a fan favorite. Isis got her start on the show posing as a model for a Cycle 5 episode focused on youth homelessness. On the next season, she returned as a fierce contestant, despite the physical challenges of modeling as a transgender female, prior to her gender reassignment surgery.
Founded by Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko in 2004, the Reciprocity Foundation (www.reciprocityfoundation.org) has helped countless homeless youth from all five boroughs of New York City to transcend poverty, isolation and a lack of direction. Through intensive counseling, yoga, meditation, media training, college preparation and career coaching, the organization helps homeless youth like Isis King start careers in creative sectors such as film, television, fashion and design.
“Isis was a charismatic, intelligent student who is passionate about fashion design and modeling,” says Adam Bucko, co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation. “But as a transgendered woman who lived in a homeless shelter, she faced more obstacles than other aspiring designers and models. That’s where we came in. We helped train Isis to handle the challenges of success while retaining her integrity.”
This season of America’s Next Top Model will be more challenging than ever. The contestants are not about to let Isis steal the spotlight—and Isis, who is beloved as the first transgender model to achieve fame after RuPaul, is not willing to be defeated.
“Isis is back on America’s Next Top Model to do more than model,” said Taz Tagore, co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation. “She wants to knock down barriers for people with a different sexual orientation. She’s become a leader to thousands of young women of all sexual orientations.”
During her time as a student at the Reciprocity Foundation, Isis honed her knowledge of the fashion industry and her design skills. She also learned how to network with fashion industry leaders and to compete in a hyper-competitive industry.
Reciprocity co-founder Adam Bucko said, “At the outset, Isis was like many of our students—passionate about fashion but unable to translate her vision into a career. We helped her develop the skills to become a leader and a role model in America. By the time we introduced Isis to Tyra Banks and Jay Manuel, she was prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.”
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For an exclusive video about Isis and her time at Reciprocity, click here.