Renauld White: Trailblazing Black Model and Guiding Light Actor Dies at 80

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Renauld White, a pioneering Black model and actor known for his role in “Guiding Light,” has passed away at 80. Celebrated for breaking barriers in the fashion industry, White’s legacy includes iconic campaigns and advocacy for diversity. Learn about his life, career, and enduring impact.

Renauld White: Trailblazing Black Model and 'Guiding Light' Actor Dies at 80
Renauld White: Trailblazing Black Model and ‘Guiding Light’ Actor Dies at 80

Renauld White: Groundbreaking Black Model and “Guiding Light” Actor, Dies at 80

Renauld White, a trailblazing model and actor known for his work in the fashion industry and on the soap opera “Guiding Light,” passed away on June 26, 2024, at the age of 80. His death marks the end of an era for a pioneering figure who broke barriers and made significant contributions to both modeling and acting.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Renauld White’s journey to becoming a fashion icon and a celebrated actor began in the 1960s. He attended West Side High School in Newark and later Rutgers University, where he laid the foundation for his future endeavors. White’s early career saw him entering the modeling industry, where he would soon make a significant impact.

Breaking Barriers in the Fashion Industry

Renauld White started modeling in the 1960s, a time when the industry was not as diverse as it is today. He worked with top fashion houses and designers, including Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karan. His work also extended to prestigious brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Armani, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and Versace. White’s notable campaigns included Black Tie cologne, Macy’s, Vitalis, and Arrow Shirts.

One of White’s most significant achievements was becoming the second Black model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine in November 1979, following Urs Althaus in November 1977. This milestone was a testament to his influence and the progress he helped foster within the fashion industry.

Advocacy for Diversity

Throughout his career, White was a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the modeling industry. In a 2011 interview with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), he recounted his efforts to challenge the status quo at Wilhelmina Models, pushing for more representation of people of color.

“I wanted to bring about change. I really confronted the establishment about why there were not more Black male images,” White said. His determination to promote diversity was not without its challenges. He initially feared backlash but ultimately succeeded in making the industry recognize its shortcomings. His advocacy paved the way for future generations of models of color.

Transition to Acting

In addition to his groundbreaking work in modeling, Renauld White also pursued a career in acting. He is best known for his role as William Reynolds on the daytime soap opera “Guiding Light,” where he appeared for two years in the 1980s. His performance on the show required him to take a hiatus from modeling, showcasing his versatility and dedication to his craft.

White’s acting credits extended beyond “Guiding Light.” He appeared in productions such as “Central Park” (2017) and “Gun Hill” (2014). He also had a role in the 1987 film “The Stepford Wives” and participated in productions at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York City.

Personal Life and Legacy

Renauld White was known not only for his professional achievements but also for his personal relationships and mentorship. His longtime friend and fashion designer Jeffrey Banks announced his passing on social media, highlighting White’s role as a trusted friend and ambassador for his brand. Banks described White as “the perfect gentleman and a great ambassador for my brand.”

White’s connection to the legendary singer Aretha Franklin was another notable aspect of his personal life. He wrote on Instagram following Franklin’s death in August 2018 that he “became a cherished private confidant and quiet night phone call to a woman who the world loved.”

Recognition and Tributes

White’s contributions to the fashion and entertainment industries were recognized by his alma mater, West Side High School, which celebrated him in October 2018 by inducting him into its hall of fame for professional excellence. He was also a former advisory board member of the Loyalty Foundation, where he was remembered by founder David Neeman as “an extraordinary man, so kind, so patient, so thoughtful and a tremendous mentor.”

The impact of Renauld White’s life and career was evident in the outpouring of tributes following his death. Jeffrey Banks expressed gratitude for the support and words of remembrance from those who knew and admired White. Banks quoted a famous line from “The Wizard of Oz” to encapsulate White’s legacy: “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others. And RENNY was indeed, truly loved.”

Funeral and Final Farewell

Renauld White’s funeral will be held on July 12 at the Whigham Funeral Home in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey. This final farewell will provide an opportunity for friends, family, and admirers to pay their respects and celebrate the life of a man who made an indelible mark on the worlds of fashion and entertainment.


Renauld White’s passing marks the end of a remarkable journey that saw him break barriers and advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. His legacy as a model, actor, and mentor will continue to inspire future generations. As the world remembers Renauld White, it is clear that his contributions and the love he shared with those around him have left a lasting impact.

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