South African model, actress, lawyer and activist, the multi-talented Thando Hopa, is one of Marie Claire’s celebrated 12 future shapers. Thando describes herself as a ‘lawyer who models for a living,’ and she is deliberate about issues of representation, beauty and image diversity:

“I look at modelling as an avenue to go down to achieve a specific outcome that is beyond me. I see modelling as a way of conscientising people,” she says.

It was Thando’s sister who encouraged her to create a positive and inclusive image of people with albinism through modelling. Via the modelling industry, media channels and her advocacy work, Thando Hopa has become a famous face in South Africa. Thando believes that her work doesn’t end with modelling – it’s about contributing to greater diversity in the media industry as a whole, and changing perceptions of difference through that.

She is driven to express the full humanity of people with albinism, thorough her own modelling and acting work, and in doing so she is broadening our understanding of what’s beautiful about being human. It’s this vision and her unfaultering pursuit of it in her personal trajectory that makes her a future shaper and such an empowering person to encounter for women’s month.

Watch Thando explain what it means to her to be a future shaper below. To learn more about her personal story (and meet 11 more inspiring, innovative women) get a copy of the August issue of Marie Claire.