South Sudanese model Adut Akech, at only nineteen years old, features on the new cover of Allure this month. This wasn’t her first time shooting for a cover.
In May 2018, she appeared on the cover of British Vouge, and Editor Edward Enninful told CNN: “No one looks like Adut. Not only is she extraordinarily beautiful; she also has a sweetness that comes through in her pictures. If Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek had a love child, it would be Adut.”
But let’s take a step back. Life for Akech wasn’t so easy. She fought a lot to get to where she is now. She was born in South Sudan but she spent her early years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where she lived until she was eight years old with her mother and her siblings.
Although she was young, she remembers a lot about what was going on around her; the hunger, the fear, and the constant moving to escape the threat of violence. Despite the difficult circumstances, life in the camp taught Akech the power of gratitude.
“When you live in that type of condition, you just try to make the most of life because you know that tomorrow is not promised,” she says. “I always felt like I had to be grateful for whatever little food I ate that day or that I had somewhere to sleep because I knew that there were kids who didn’t.”
After the terrible experience of the camp, they left for Adelaide, Australia where they have several extended family members. Here Akech spent a year learning English at a special school filled with refugee children from all over the world. but here also wasn’t easy for her.
“I was bullied by the popular girls about my skin tone, my hair, and especially my gap [teeth], which I’ve grown to love,” says Akech. “I’m not gonna lie, that made me feel a little insecure, then a ‘I don’t care’ mindset kind of kicked in for me, and I told myself I was beautiful.” She makes it sound simple, but it’s no easy feat, especially at an impressionable age.
But everything changed when at twelve years old. She walked in a fashion show put on by her auntie, a former model and clothing designer. From that moment on, she knew that this was what she really wanted to do in her life.
And her career has incredibly leaped since then. She signed to an agency at fifteen years old and now, three years on, Akech has already graced the covers of Korean, Australian, and British Vogues, she’s walked the runways for big fashion houses like Prada, Versace, and Chanel (including Karl Lagerfeld’s last ever show), and she has landed fashion campaigns for designers like Valentino and Fendi.
She Also won the Model of the Year title in December, an award bestowed by an elite group of industry insiders, polled by models.com. She also tells the magazine that it’s not easy be a black model in this industry. Most of the hairstylists are not able to work with her hair, and sometimes people want to use hats on her which she refuses since this caused damage to her hair the last time. She still stands up for herself just like she did as a little girl.
Check out the full article here and have a look at some pictures from the interview photoshootut below.