Shudu Gram is the newest social media sensation, she’s even had her image reposted by Fenty Beauty. But she’s not just any supermodel; she’s digital.
Shudu is the world’s first digital supermodel created by London-based photographer Cameron James Wilson using 3D image rendering software programme DAZ3D.
Cameron explained in an interview with Highsnobiety that Shudu is inspired by quite a few people but “her main inspiration is a South African Princess Barbie.”
“Obviously, her real-life inspirations are pulled from so many different women — Lupita, Duckie Thot and Nykhor — even throwing it back to Alek Wek, who was a massive influence on how I saw beauty growing up,” he said.
Since she made a debut on Instagram in April 2017, the stunning beauty has amassed over 70k Instagram followers surpassing various human models and influencers.
Her first few images posted on Instagram account received attention with people praising her looks and photographers sending her direct messages with requests to set up a shoot.
Shudu’s popularity rose when Rihanna’s beauty brand Fenty reposted an image of her wearing the brand’s lipstick. Created without Fenty’s involvement, the image surpassed the average amount of Instagram likes and engagement with some 222,000 likes compared to an average of around 50,000.
At the time, it had not been revealed if Shudu was a real person; her Instagram bio simply repeated the comment left under her photos: “who is she?”
Following the coverage with a co-sign from Rihanna, Cameron responded to private messages to explain that Shudu was an art project.
Since the revelation, Shudu’s social media fans have reacted negatively and have questioned how a white man created a black woman instead of hiring a real black model, so he could “profit off of black women without ever having to pay one.”
In his response, Cameron said in an interview with Highsnobiety, “The comments that have been most critical of what I’m doing have been from white women, which was kind of unexpected. I had dark skinned girls and women message me to say that they absolutely love the art that I’m doing.”
Asked whether it would be possible that the existence of Shudu’s Instagram page could be pushing other would-be models out the door, Cameron replied, “I don’t really see Shudu as a money spinner or a business for me. It’s more of an expression, and when I’ve had companies approach me if what they want doesn’t reflect in what I see for her then it’s a no go”.