First Muslim CoverGirl, a mom from Denver, takes on politics of anger with friendliness

Author: Mary MacCarthy, Colorado Politics - July 6, 2017 - Updated: July 6, 2017


In a charged American political environment, a Denver mom, businesswoman and the first Muslim CoverGirl ambassador is making a stand by being herself.

“If someone that’s never met a Muslim and meets me and that’s their first experience, I’m hoping it’s the best experience,” Nura Afia tells Colorado Politics. “And wearing the hijab reminds me it needs to be the best experience for everyone that comes across me.”

She doesn’t meet a lot of people obsessed with her religion or politics, though.

“I feel like the few people that are very angry or scared of Muslims are still few and far between,” Afia said in the interview that was Colorado Politics’ co-production with “PBS Newshour.”

A devout Muslim, Afia, 25, married soon after graduating high school. She was juggling the duties of a young mother with working at the makeup retailer Sephora.

While she was nursing her baby, she often passed the time watching YouTube videos — and that led to a life-changing moment of inspiration. She started making her own videos, teaching people how to apply makeup– skills she was honing at her retail job.

As a devout Muslim who has worn the hijab since she was a teenager, Afia’s videos also embraced the Muslim veil. Her tutorials teach women how to wear it, and how to combine it with different styles of clothes and makeup.

She quickly developed an international following on YouTube and Instagram, attracting hundreds of thousands of followers. And then came her big break: makeup giant CoverGirl asked her to be a brand ambassador, the first time a Muslim woman was asked to take on the high-profile role.

“I never thought I’d see anyone that looks like me” featured in a national beauty campaign, Afia says.

Since co-starring in a CoverGirl commercial with pop star Katy Perry and actress Sofia Vergara, Afia has also appeared on the Today Show and in Glamour magazine.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.