Viewers spending their quarantine on Netflix may come across the documentary, Disclosure, which highlights the experiences and exclusions of trans people in American media. Among the interviewees in the documentary is the movie star Laverne Cox. She discusses both her own experience in the industry and others who influenced her career. One name she mentioned was film star Ajita Wilson, an American actress who mesmerized worldwide audiences in the 1970s.
Tall and beautiful with flawless hair and makeup, Wilson was a fashionista during her stardom. Her style blended minimalist, form-fitted clothing with layered necklaces, a tower of bangles on both wrists, and a set of thin, golden hoops dangling from her ears. According to academic Matt Richardson, Wilson’s taste mirrored what Dr. Tanisha Ford calls soul style, an aesthetic that blended fashionable expression with the 1970s Black Power movement.
Although not featured in high fashion magazines of the time, Wilson did get the chance to be Jet’s “Beauty of the Week” in 1981. Caught mid-stroll on a beach, Wilson sported beaded braids, a berry-colored bikini, and Roman-inspired jewelry. She may have been the first Transgender woman to be given the honor.
Not much is known about Wilson’s early life, except that she was born in Brooklyn on May 26, 1950. Her film career began in the 1970s in New York City. Once she crossed the pond, Wilson acted for some of the top directors in Europe in softcore and hardcore films. In 1987, a car wreck ended her life at the young age of 37.
To see Ajita Wilson’s Jet feature, check out the August 20, 1981 edition on Google Books. To learn more about her contribution to film, read Matt Richardson’s “Ajita Wilson: Blaxploitation, Sexploitation, and the Making of Black Womanhood.”