10 Things You Didn’t Know About Anok Yai

She conquered the realms of the fashion world with her striking beauty and arresting presence. From accidentally discovered on a university campus to gracing global runways, Anok Yai has positively stunned the fashion industry. But how much do you really know about this South Sudanese-American fashion model? Here are 10 interesting things you may have been unaware of.

1. She Emerged from Humble Beginnings

Anok Yai was born in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to South Sudanese parents. She comes from a humble background that is a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the modelling world that she is now part of. When Yai was just two years old, her family migrated to the United States to escape the civil war in South Sudan.

The Yai Family found a new home in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here, Anok Yai attended Manchester High School West. The contrast of her humble immigrant roots versus her current superstar status is a testament to her determination and hard work.

2. She Was Discovered at a Homecoming Party

The fashion world literally stumbled upon Yai during a homecoming party at Howard University. Anok was studying biochemistry at Plymouth State University when she attended a homecoming event at Howard in 2017. A photographer clicked a picture of her, which he later posted on Instagram.

That single Instagram post went viral and brought Anok global attention, with many agencies reaching out to her. By that one picture, Anok was launched headfirst into international fame and an unexpected but successful career in modelling.

3. She Made History as the Second Black Model to Open Prada

Yai holds a unique distinction in the history of Prada. In 2018, she became the second black model to open a Prada show, more than two decades after Naomi Campbell held that honor in 1997. Anok opened the Autumn/Winter 2018 show at the Milan Fashion Week, illuminating the runway with an unforgettable presence.

This marked a turning point in the world of fashion, heralding much-needed diversity and representation. Albeit a slow process, Yai’s achievement at Prada emphasized that the industry was making strides toward embracing inclusivity.

4. She’s a Biochemistry Major

Before the fashion world came calling, Yai was committed to a life away from the runway. She was studying Biochemistry at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. With only two years left to complete her degree when her career in modelling took off, Yai decided to take a break from her studies.

Even though she has not completed her degree yet, Yai notes the valuable discipline and structure that her studies have contributed to her modelling career. She maintains that she could return to her studies in the future, advocating for the importance of education.

5. She’s Passionate About Youth Empowerment

Anok Yai carries a powerful message for the younger generation. She uses her platform to advocate for opportunities for young people regardless of their background, aiming to inspire others with her journey.

Yai believes it’s essential to motivate young individuals around the world to overcome their obstacles and turn dreams into reality. With her own remarkable journey from biochemistry student to a top fashion model, she reinforces the power of believing in oneself.

6. She’s Graced Prestigious Magazine Covers

Cementing her status as a high-profile model, Anok Yai has appeared on covers of several highly prestigious fashion publications. She’s been featured on the cover of i-D Magazine and Vogue Korea, further marking her meteoric rise in the industry.

The South Sudanese beauty was also part of a cover of Vogue Greece that celebrated unity and humanity, featuring models of different nationalities. It is a testament to Yai’s global appeal and noteworthy status in the fashion industry.

7. Her Name Holds a Beautiful Meaning

The name ‘Anok’ in Sudanese believes to carry the meaning ‘I am diverse’. This fitting identity reflects her unique heritage and her prominent role in advocating for diversity in the fashion industry.

Yai has often spoken about how important it is to see more representation in the industry, and her name symbolizes this cause. It serves as a powerful affirmation of her cultural background and an expression of strength and diversity.

8. She’s a Fan of Sci-Fi Series

When she’s not lighting up runways or posing for photo shoots, Yai enjoys unwinding with a good book or show. She’s a huge fan of science fiction series like ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Stranger Things’.

This love for sci-fi series offers a glimpse into the model’s personal preferences, painting a picture of Yai off the runway. It is a reminder that despite her burgeoning success, she’s just like us when it comes to binge-watching favourite shows.

9. She Dreams of Revolutionizing the Beauty Industry in Africa

As a woman of color in the fashion industry, Yai is well aware of the challenges that come with finding suitable beauty products. Her dream is to create a line of beauty products that cater specifically to the women of Africa, ensuring inclusivity and representation.

She’s determined to create change and contribute something of considerable value to the industry, ultimately benefitting her home continent of Africa. That speaks volumes about her commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

10. She’s Influenced by Grace Jones

In interviews, Yai has mentioned her admiration for Grace Jones, a Jamaican model, singer, songwriter, and actress, widely known for her bold and androgynous aesthetic.

Her influence by this powerhouse of talent showcases Yai’s appreciation for strong, independent women who defy societal norms. It’s apparent how the fierce and unconventional style of Grace Jones has played a significant part in fashioning Yai’s own impressive career.

In conclusion, Anok Yai is not just a beautiful face, but a powerful embodiment of hard work, perseverance, and representation. Her story teaches us never to undermine the power of being different and staying committed to one’s roots. To know more about Anok Yai’s inspiring journey, explore these useful links:

Anok Yai Instagram

Vogue Interview