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Through Paola's Lens: Bethann Hardison & Fatima Robinson

Through Paola's Lens: Bethann Hardison & Fatima Robinson

Two months ago I flew to California to wrap Bethann Hardison and Fatima Robinson in Fanm Djanm headwraps and I photographed them by myself on a beautiful, sunny Wednesday morning. No team. No moodboard. No back and forth. No real reason other than that it was truly an honor to connect with two icons when the moment presented itself. I candidly approached Bethann about the idea after I watched her documentary “Invisible Beauty” and participated in a live (virtual) conversation a friend organized about creative activism. I had no idea she would agree to it. She told me I had two hours to do anything I wanted, so I immediately took the offer and made my way from Austin to Los Angeles to seize the rare opportunity.

Bethann Hardison is a fashion model, activist, and former agent. She was one of the first high-profile black fashion models who participated in the 1973 Battle of Versailles. She is well known for discovering, representing, and supporting some of the most successful black models and working toward diversity in fashion. Fatima Robinson is a choreographer who has worked with the world’s biggest stars, filmmakers, and fashion houses. While I was photographing her, she casually mentioned choreographing Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time music video and working on The Color Purple and Beyonce’s Renaissance tour last year.

Everything about that day felt special - the location (Fatima’s magical backyard in Ojai), the energy between us, the ease and curiosity. I loved that three women from different age groups, in different stages of our lives were getting to know each other. I had never met them before that day, and despite initially feeling nervous because I was in the presence of such established, admirable, and beautiful women who owed me nothing, not even a second of their time, I felt full. 


I took that flight the day before to embark on this colorful adventure because my heart told me it was the right thing to do. And I’m happy I listened. I hope these photographs reflect how immensely grateful I felt. The short time I spent with these two extraordinary women will remain one of the most incredible experiences of my life. That morning taught me so many things, but the most important lesson I walked away with was the importance and the privilege of paying it forward.



Bethann wears the Fern Double Sided KaftanMalbaie Headwrap, and the Fern Headwrap.  Fatima wears the Pearl Headwrap, and the Marley Headwrap.

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