Ever since the ’90s, Alek Wek has been making her mark on the modeling scene and breaking down doors that were once never opened to models of color. Now after years of being the first black model to grace countless magazine covers, walk several high-fashion designer runways, and serve as the face of several fashion campaigns, it’s clear that Wek is one of the few models with non-European-like features to have a career that’s withstood the trials and tribulations of the fashion industry.
In an interview with The Guardian, the Sudanese supermodel opens up about having very little reference to the models that came before her, being accepted in high fashion, and influencing Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.
Check out interview tidbits and gorgeous pics of the 36-year-old beauty below.
“There was no concept of fashion and catwalk shows where I came from…There were no magazines. I never saw women in makeup, or with different hairstyles. Absolutely not.”
On being accepted in high fashion:
“When I started, I’d hear other people saying, ‘God, she’s so bizarre-looking’, because I didn’t look like the girl next door. But I was just normal. I was the girl next door. There were people in high fashion I could better relate to, who were doing something more interesting and not talking this sort of rubbish.”
On her mother’s influence and healthy upbringing giving her the confidence she needed:
“You can feel very strongly that someone doesn’t like you. I think any model who didn’t have the same sort of upbringing as me would find that very difficult. But I absolutely knew I was entitled. I never thought I was ugly – it never crossed my mind.”
Her reaction to Hollywood’s current “It Girl” Lupita citing her as a role model:
“It was very humbling. I never fully understood the magnitude of what I was doing, because I hadn’t grown up in this culture.”
Learn more about Alek and read the rest of her inspiring interview at The Guardian.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN