This is Anok Yai, a 20-year-old Howard University student originally from South Sudan. Four months ago, a photographer saw her at a Howard University homecoming party and took this picture. The stunning portrait went viral, and Yai began receiving modelling offers soon after.
Yai, who came to the United States in 2000 and had no prior modelling experience, eventually took up one of the modelling contracts she was offered and has since worked for brands like Prada.
Last February, Anok Yai became the first black model to open Prada’s runway show in nearly 21 years. She followed Naomi Campbell, who did it in 1997.
“This is something that I’d only dream of, ” she wrote in her Instagram post about the event.
“Thank you…for giving the little girl from Manch a chance. Can’t believe I’m the first black woman to open for Prada since queen @iamnaomicampbell, forever grateful.”
PRADA WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE. This is something that I'd only dream of. Thank you Ms Prada, Olivier Rizzo @willyvanderperre @ashleybrokaw @kylehagler and the Next team for giving the little girl from Manch a chance. Can't believe I'm the first black woman to open for Prada since queen @iamnaomicampbell, forever grateful. And thank you to @patmcgrathreal @cheriejohnson56 and @guidopalau they made me look extra chic – PRADA CHIC 😂💋
In an interview with Vogue UK, Yai said that the significance of her presence in the runway show was not lost on her.
“It was an honour and I’m proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me. Me opening for one of the top fashion houses is a statement to the world – especially for black women – that their beauty is something that deserves to be celebrated,” she said.
The show was her second time walking the runway for Prada, and she also currently has three campaigns with the brand.
“I will remember the experience of opening the show as my breakthrough moment,” she said.
“I am just so excited about where this will take me, and I couldn’t be happier.”
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