Liya Kebede Biography | Childhood, Achievement & FAQ

Liya Kebede Biography

April 22, 2022

Liya Kebede is a renowned Ethiopian-born fashion model who has stardom in her modelling career. The fashion star Liya has starred in many popular magazines such as Vogue. It has been featured in numerous fashion shows by popular fashion brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Escada, Emanuel Ungaro, and Yves Saint-Laurent. The Ethiopian supermodel is also a successful clothing designer, actress, producer, social activist, and entrepreneur. Moreover, the versatile model Liya is also an active philanthropist who uses her good look and celebrity status to improve the health of women, infants, and children.

Liya Kebede Biography

Liya Kebede has built enormous popularity in her lifetime. On this account, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010 and one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year in 2013. As far as modelling is concerned, anyone recalls the name Liya, as she is eminent in the industry. She is one of the highest-paid models in the world fashion industry. She was even regarded as the eleventh-highest-paid top model in the world, in 2007, by Forbes magazine. Still more, Liya has appeared on the cover of U.S. Vogue on multiple occasions. In addition, she has served as the WHO’s Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health since 2005.

Early Life & Childhood of Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede was born on March 1, 1978, in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Ethiopian parents and she grew up in a middle-class family, being the only daughter in a family that included four other boys. Although there is not much detail about her parents, it is considered that her father was an airline executive. Liya attended her high school at the Franco-Ethiopian Lycée Guebre Mariam’ in Addis Ababa. It was there that she was recruited to a French modelling agency. Just after completing her school studies Liya, at the age of 18, moved to Paris to pursue her modelling career.

Relationship Status & Family

In 2000, Liya Kebede married Kassy Kebede, an Ethiopian millionaire, and businessman. Kassy was also a hedge fund manager at the time. Liya had met Kassy on a trip home to her homeland Ethiopia. The duo lived together for 13 years in NYC. Nevertheless, the couple separated in 2013, and their marriage broke down legally in 2015. The couple was blessed with one son and one daughter throughout their relationship. Their firstborn child is Suhul (born in 2001), and their second child is named Raee (born in 2005).

Professional Life

Liya Kebede as a Model

Liya Kebede’s modelling career started at 18 when she relocated to Paris after being recruited by a French film director. Soon after her move, Liya debuted as a model in Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria shows. Her appearances on the shows made designer Tom Ford, who had seen her picture, personally choose her to be a Gucci exclusive for the Autumn/Winter 2000 fashion show. Liya never turned back; she gained more popularity in the industry when she appeared on the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue, which was entirely dedicated to her. The cover headline affirmed her status as one of the world’s most sought-after models, and she appeared in three-quarters of its editorial spreads.

Moreover, the stunning model has been on the covers of Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue, V, Flair, i-D, and Time’s Style & Design, and has appeared in ad campaigns for Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Victoria’s Secret, Emanuel Ungaro, Tommy Hilfiger, Revlon, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada and Louis Vuitton. More importantly, Liya made history when in 2003, the cosmetic company Estee Lauder signed her, as she was the first-ever black model to represent the company in its 57-year history. She was also rumored to be awarded a contract giving her a $3 million payday.

Liya Kebede as an Actor

In 2009, Kebede starred in the film adaption of the bestselling autobiography ‘Desert Flower [September 24, 2009 (Germany)]. In addition, Liya has had roles in other films such as:

  • 419 [January 10 2020 (France)]
  • City Hunter [February 6, 2019 (France)]
  • Innocence [September 5 2014 (USA)]
  • The Best Offer [January 1, 2013 (Italy)]
  • Sur la piste du Marsupilami [4 April 2012 (France)]
  • Capital [November 14, 2012 (France)]
  • Black Gold [November 23, 2011 (France)]
  • Samba [March 19, 2010]
  • The Good Shepherd [December 22, 2006 (USA)]
  • Lord of War [September 16, 2005 (USA)]

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Liya Kebede as a Philanthropist & Social Activist

Apart from her acting and modelling, Liya is also engaged in numerous philanthropic works. She is an active and vocal advocate of maternal welfare. On account of this, she has been a World Health Organization Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health since.

Liya has also opened her charitable organization named Liya Kebede Foundation to reduce the mortality rates of pregnant mothers and newly-born children worldwide. Owing to her foundation, Liya was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year in 2013.

In addition to this, in 2008, Liya founded a clothing line named Lemlem to promote traditional weaving in her native Ethiopia and create jobs.

Social Media Presence

Quick Facts About Liya Kebede


  • Full Name: Liya Kebede
  • Gender: Female
  • Profession: Model, Clothing designer, Actress, Producer
  • Nationality: American, Ethiopian
  • Ethnicity: Black


  • Date of Birth: March 1, 1978
  • Age: 44
  • Birthday: March 1
  • Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Zodiac sign: Pisces

Physical Appearance & Body Measurements

  • Height (ft in): 5′ 10.5″
  • Weight in Kilograms: 57 kg
  • Waist Size (in): 23″
  • Hip Size (in): 34″
  • Bust Size (in): 32″
  • Dress Size (U.S.): 4
  • Shoe Size (U.S.): 8.5
  • Eye Color: brown
  • Hair Color: black


  • Marital Status: Divorced
  • Spouse/Ex: Kassy Kebede
  • Children: 2: Raee Kebede and Suhul Kebede
  • Siblings: 4

Net Worth

  • Net Worth: $18 Million

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is Liya Kebede? Liya Kebede is a renowned Ethiopian-born fashion model who has stardom in her modelling career.
  • How old is Liya Kebede? As of 2022, Liya Kebede is 44 years old
  • When is the birthday of Liya Kebede? Liya Kebede celebrates her birthday on March 1 every year.
  • What is the Net Worth of Liya Kebede? Liya Kebede has a net worth of $18 million.
  • Is Liya Kebede single now? Yes, Liya Kebede is currently single.

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Written by Sophonias Woldu

Sophonias Woldu is an Ethiopian author with an outstanding skill for crafting unique and captivating articles that explore different aspects of life. He had an inquisitive mind from a young age and was always fascinated by the power of language and words. He writes articles about philosophy, theology, his native Ethiopia, and basically anything and everything else. Before embarking on a writing career, he had already begun a successful career in the electromechanical engineering field, having earned his degree from Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. In addition to being a prolific writer, Sophonias is also a public speaker and tech enthusiast who believes in harnessing technology to improve the lives of Ethiopians. Currently, Sophonias writes articles for on a part-time basis.

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