“This is insane. I’m trending right now.” That was Amy Deanna’s Facebook post on February 20th – the day her commercial with CoverGirl was published on YouTube. Just one month later, the 15-second clip has been viewed more than 3.6 million times – and counting.
Featuring CoverGirl’s truBlend foundation, the commercial is part of the I Am What I Makeup campaign, which illustrates the CoverGirl’s mission of inclusivity and the idea of expressing who you are unapologetically. As the brand’s first model with vitiligo, Amy’s name has gone viral in the past few weeks, being featured on Allure, People and the Megyn Kelly Today Show, just to name a few.
“People would stop me in the street before because they thought I was Winnie Harlow,” said Amy, laughing. “Now I’m being recognized for the commercial – that’s cool.”
Yet Amy didn’t realize she was CoverGirl’s first model with vitiligo when she excitedly agreed to model for the campaign – nor did she realize the impact it would have on the beauty industry and the vitiligo community.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal it actually was,” said Amy, who wasn’t aware of how far the campaign had gone until she did a Google search of herself – and felt her jaw drop. “Even during the shoot, I was super happy and excited but I didn’t realize this was actually history in the making.”
More than just a commercial, the campaign is a statement that redefines beauty as just being who you are. And it’s a statement that Amy has embraced whole-heartedly.
“This is an opportunity for all of us,” said Amy, who has chosen to use her fame as a platform for the vitiligo community. “I’m grateful that I get to help bring awareness and educate people. I hope to move awareness far enough that people see vitiligo and know what it is.”
Amy first got vitiligo when she was 18, following a traumatic and stressful year. A cut on her thumb healed into what she thought was a scar – until an identical white spot appeared on her other thumb. When the vitiligo spread to cover 70% of her body in the first year, Amy discussed options with her dermatologist – including treatment and depigmenting entirely to be one color again. After a lot of thought, she decided to embrace her condition instead.
“I choose my happiness,” said Amy, who admits that she still struggles with her vitiligo from time to time. “But I have to look for that from within and can’t expect every day to be a great day. It’s what I make of it.”
Even as the face of CoverGirl, confidence isn’t a guaranteed thing for the 24-year-old, who shared that at one point she didn’t want to accept her skin. For Amy, living with vitiligo is a “day-to-day thing.” Some days, she forgets she even has it – until she catches someone staring.
“Overall I’ve had positive experiences, but here and there I get negative comments or stares,” said Amy, sharing a time a passersby made a comment about her being in black face. “Stares is what gets me the most – that’s the toughest part.”
It’s the personal struggle of living with vitiligo that’s put her on a mission to educate the world about the condition. As it turns out, modeling is just the first step.
“The barrier I really want to break is the movie, film and commercial industry,” said Amy, who grew up doing theatre and wants to pursue a career in acting. “Once you get on that screen, you’re going to reach so many more people. That’s what this commercial did – but we can reach so many more.”
As a girl-next-door suddenly turned trailblazer for both the beauty industry and the vitiligo community, Amy is poised to do just that – even if she wasn’t expecting it.
“I’m confident in the skin I’m in,” said Amy, smiling. “I haven’t always been that way – now I’m that way, unapologetically.”
Watch Living Dappled’s Live Interview with CoverGirl Amy Deanna
Photo by CoverGirl.
Erika Page is a blogger, speaker and self-love advocate with universal vitiligo. After living with vitiligo for two decades, Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.