Lifestyle Style Iman Opens Up About Fighting for Black Models to Get Equal Pay Early in Her Career The icon and activist also talks about her decision to "exit gracefully" from modeling in 1989 in W Magazine's new issue By Hanna Flanagan Hanna Flanagan Style + Beauty Assistant, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 12, 2021 12:51 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Campbell Addy / W Magazine After nearly 50 years in the limelight, Iman is reflecting on her career as a model and the beginning of her work as an activist. The supermodel and CARE Global Advocate, 66, is featured in W Magazine's third annual portfolio as part of Volume 5 The Originals alongside designers Donatella Versace, Manolo Blahnik, Maximilian Davis and Barbara Hulanicki and creative director and producer Nain Fish. Inside the issue (on stands Oct. 19), Iman opens up about becoming an activist early on in her career. Campbell Addy / W Magazine "A couple of months after I arrived in the United States, in 1975, I found out they were paying Black models less than our counterparts, and I said, 'I'm not doing this.' If I'm doing the same job as the white model, I have to be compensated," she told the outlet, remembering that she "went on strike" for three months. "And then, of course, they raised my rate," she added. Iman on the Importance of Vaccine Equity: 'We're Stronger When We Come Together and Share Resources' When asked what prompted her to speak up about the injustice, the Somalian-born star said she never felt "less than anybody" because, growing up, everyone around her was Black. Campbell Addy / W Magazine "When you have that instilled in you, you're not coming from a place of want," she explained. "You're coming from a place of, I have something to offer you." The fashion icon also voiced support for the next generation of supermodels, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi and Bella Hadid, while explaining how the modeling industry has evolved in the age of social media. Iman Pays Tribute to Late Husband David Bowie on His Birthday: 'Eternal Love' "There is this argument that a lot of young models who have followers in the millions—the Kendalls or the Hadids— have not gone through the same arduous steps as others. That's true," she began. "But let's not forget that these models are also hard workers. There's only so much the followers can do for you." Campbell Addy / W Magazine Iman continued: "I'm not from the school of people saying, 'Oh, they don't make models as they used to.' Oh no, they do! And they make them better! You have to move out of the door to let other people in." She explains why that was one of the reasons she decided to retire in 1989. "When Naomi Campbell was interviewing me once, she said, 'Why did you retire?' I said, 'You bitches were coming right behind me!' [Laughs] 'You, Linda [Evangelista] —it was time for me to exit gracefully." W Magazine's The Originals issue hits newsstands Oct. 19.