Joan Smalls Dons Givenchy On First American ELLE Cover

Beauty & Style | Camille Travis | 12/04/2013 | 12:00 PM EST

The stunning cover girl talks diversity in fashion, her motivation to begin modeling and more

Joan Smalls is the gorgeous lady in gold taking the cover of ELLE magazine's January 2014 issue and the Puerto Rican beauty has a few interesting sound bites to boot.

Sporting a shimmering Givenchy gown with a peekaboo chest cutout, the 25-year-old stunner discusses the fashion industry's ongoing issue with diversity and how she got her start in modeling and acting. Shot by Michael Thompson, the upcoming issue serves as Smalls' first American ELLE cover.

Check out a few excerpts from her interview below.

On the fashion industry's lack of diversity...

"People hide behind the word aesthetic. They say, 'Well, it's just that designer's aesthetic.' But when you see 18 seasons in a row and not one single model outside a certain skin color…? There are people in the industry who are advocates, who support diversity. And there are people who do not. I don't get it. Beauty is universal. These doors have to open."

On how she got her start in modeling...

"I came to New York with a dream. I came to do what I saw girls doing in campaigns, in editorials—great things, challenging things."

On getting into acting...

"I want to be clear that I don't want to act just because it's the typical move for a model. My desire comes from a place of wanting to entertain people on a different level."

Estée Lauder's Richard Ferretti on Smalls...

"The word supermodel is overused, but if there is any woman of our generation who deserves the title, it's Joan. She has the perfect face."

Check out more photos and fashions over at!

(Photo: Michael Thompson for Elle Magazine, January 2014)

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