Isis King (born Darrell Walls, October 1, 1985) is an American fashion model, fashion designer, and contestant on cycle 11 of ANTM in 2008, as well as the All-Star season in 2011.[1][2][3] She placed tenth and twelfth respectively.

Early Life

King is originally from Prince George's County, Maryland. King was born physically male, but has stated that "mentally [and] everything else [she] was born female."[4] She has stated that people might refer to her as transgender or transsexual but she prefers the phrase "born in the wrong body".[4]

Although King came out as gay in high school, she felt that it was still not the accurate label for her orientation.[1] In 2007, she appeared in an MSNBC special, titled "Born In The Wrong Body," which documented the lives of transgender teens from across America.[3] She is a "pre-operative" transwoman and began hormone replacement therapy in the summer of 2007 as part of her transitioning process.[5]

She has an associate degree from the Art Institute of Philadelphia.[5] She has worked as a receptionist for a hair salon, and a program assistant at a nonprofit organization.[6]

She had been runway modeling for seven years before the show. Her experience included competing in the underground ball culture scene.[7][4]

ANTM

Cycle 10

King was living at the Ali Forney Transitional Living Program when she learned about an upcoming photo shoot for cycle 10.[8] The shoot's theme was the issue of homeless youth, and homeless women would be used as background models in conjunction with the Reciprocity Foundation, which works to move homeless and high-risk youth into careers in the "creativity economy". King asked art director Jay Manuel whether she could be accepted, as a girl "born in the wrong body," if she were to audition as a contestant for ANTM.[8] Tyra said later that she had her staff search out King to encourage her to audition based on her stellar performance in the photo shoot.

Cycle 11

She became one of fourteen finalists for cycle 11.[9][10] Some contestants have expressed prejudices in speaking about how her gender-transitioning would be poorly received in their own small communities or in the south.[10] Clark and ShaRaun have referred to her pejoratively as a "he/she" and a drag queen.[11] Hannah also pushed her when all the girls were in the pool. Facets of her transitioning process have been portrayed in the show, such as her hormone injections and subsequent nausea.[12]

She was called second for the first photoshoot, then placed in the bottom two with Nikeysha the following week. In the eyes above water photoshoot, she was criticized for having dead and sleepy eyes. She was in the bottom two again with Samantha, and eliminated.

Cycle 17

Isis was shown to be more confident this time around, and showed no fear when in a bathing suit for the first photoshoot. She received the first call-out that week.

In episode three, she was eliminated over Angelea, due to her having a stronger photo at the stilt photoshoot.

Post-Show

Isis appeared on The Tyra Banks Show to discuss her story.[13] Tyra arranged for her to have sex reassignment surgery by Dr. Marci Bowers. The surgery was conducted on February 27, 2009.[10]

After the show, Isis signed with AEFH Talent for Theatrical, and PRESTIGE Talent for commercial work in Los Angeles.

King appeared in Us Weekly, Seventeen, Out, Mallard International, and the cover of the Spring 2010 Swerv. She also did a variety of test shots that were used to promote her visit to The Tyra Show. In 2012 she became American Apparel's first openly transgender model. However, Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People (MAGNET), an anti-defamation organization dedicated to educating the media about transsexual, transgender, and intersex issues, launched an education campaign against the t-shirts King modeled because they say "Gay O.K.", which some feel is misleading since King is a straight transgender woman. Chanel Jessica Lopez, a transsexual and transgender communities based counselor at New York City's Anti-Violence Project, called for a boycott of the t-shirts for the same reason.

In 2014, King was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with other transgender women.

Acting

In July 2015, Isis was a guest star on multiple episodes of the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful". She played Gia in a guest role on season seven of the Showtime show "Shameless".

In Fall 2016, she was one of the main cast in the docu-series "Strut", executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, and aired on the Oxygen Network. It followed five trans models, and documented their move from New York to Los Angeles.

In 2019, she starred in the Netflix series "When They See Us". She plays Marci, the deceased older sister of Korey. In august, she was the subject of a "Deadline" interview. In it she discussed trans visibility, acceptance, and other matters.[14]

In 2020, She was a guest on the cycle 11 and 17 episodes of Jays Chat.[15][16]

Legacy

Isis's inclusion on ANTM has been called an "unprecedented opportunity" by Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.[2] By competing on the show, she has brought national and prime time attention to issues of gender transitioning and gender expression.[17][18] New York magazine has called King the cause célèbre of cycle 11, comparing her transsexualism to previous contestant "issues" featured on the show such as Heather Kuzmich's Aspergers syndrome.[19] ANTM executive producer Ken Mok stated that casting her was in support of "redefin[ing] what beauty is," one of "Tyra's original missions" for the show.[20]

New York also noted King is one of few transgender models in history to rise to prominence and that only a handful have reached the higher levels, including Teri Toye, former club kid Amanda Lepore and gender-bending club promoter and model André J.[21] Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, told ABC News that the time may be right for a transgender supermodel: "Maybe it's time for a tranny to end up on the cover of Vogue."[20]

Trivia

  • Isis is the first transgender girl to compete in the final cast.
  • Isis is the third transgender girl to compete in auditions. There were two other transwomen, one in cycle 6 and another in cycle 8, who did not make the cast and were not featured in the episodes.
  • Isis is the lowest placing girl to compete on All-Stars.
  • She is the lowest placing girl to have a first call-out.
  • She is the only girl to compete on All-Stars to not reach the overseas destination.
  • She is one of three girls to not have a first call-out in her original season, and at least one in her All-Star season. The other two are Dominique Reighard and Laura Kirkpatrick.
  • She is the second girl to be featured on the show before their cycle, not counting girls who auditioned twice. The first is Saleisha Stowers.

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References

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