Adut Akech is carving out her path as a supermodel on a journey to bigger things.
Akech immigrated to Australia at age seven as a refugee from South Sudan.
“It was the first time I was in a space with people who didn’t look like me, people who weren’t used to seeing people like myself,” Akech explains in the August 2021 cover issue of ELLE.
“From a young age, I just told myself that I needed to grow a tougher skin to avoid all this outside noise, but also to accept that this is who I am. This is how God made me and that’s not going to change any time soon, or ever, to be honest.”
For Akech, modelling is a means to a greater end. She was recently named an Estée Lauder global brand ambassador.
“I do this for my little sisters. I do it for little Black girls all around the world. I do it for refugees. I do it for people who are not seen and not heard. That’s my responsibility.
“I feel like this is my moment to show people — and to show the world — that yes, Black women are beautiful.”
Friend and mentor Naomi Campbell reveals how she discovered Akech while working together alongside Sean Combs on the 2017 Pirelli calendar.
“I was in front of the makeup mirror and I looked up and saw this girl behind me,” Campbell recalls. “And [Diddy] and I both gasped, like, ‘Oh my God, this girl is incredible.’ I was just mesmerized by her face and her aura.
“It was no surprise to me at all how quickly she shot up. I’m proud of her. Every editorial I see just makes me smile, makes my heart smile.”
The August 2021 issue of ELLE is available on newsstands on July 27. The new issue also features a photo collection with Kendall Jenner.