In 1946 with the help of four friends, DeVore opened Grace del Marco Modeling Agency and in 1948 she created the Ophelia DeVore School of Self-Development and Modeling. Besides creating opportunities to showcase African-Americans in magazines, on the runway and at pageants and fashion shows, DeVore started marketing to non-white audiences.
As part of this project, she produced a mega promotional campaign for the Johnson & Johnson corporation that launched the career of supermodel Helen Williams. In 1955, DeVore and her models made history as hosts of ABC’s weekly television show, “Spotlight on Harlem.”
It was the first television program in New York produced by and for African-Americans. She made history again in 1959 and 1960 when two of her clients, Cecilia Cooper and LaJeune Hundley, were the first Americans, Black or White, to win titles at the Cannes Film Festival.
DeVore continued to make history and alter the way the beauty industry viewed Black women throughout the years. She once sued Life Magazine after it published a story in 1969 on Black models for which she was interviewed; the resulting article cited White-owned agencies instead. Devore also created a makeup line for women of color and developed and produced the first beauty pageant for Black women here in the U.S. She was the owner and publisher of The Columbus Times, based in Columbus, Ga., and a founder of The Black Press Archives at Howard University.
The legend, who has received over 200 awards and who was bestowed with the prestigious honor of being named one of the 75 Black women who, in 1989, have positively impacted and changed the world as part of the famed “I Dream A World Series,” leaves behind five children and 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.