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.

RELATED: KSI’s Keys To YouTube & Music Supremacy, The Black Experience

Adut Akech. Photo: Chris Colls/ELLE
Adut Akech. Photo: Chris Colls/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.

RELATED: Willow Smith Dismisses The Hate She Gets From Older Rock Fans

Adut Akech
Adut Akech. Photo: Chris Colls/ELLE

“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.

Kendall Jenner for ELLE
Kendall Jenner. Photo: Zoey Grossman/ELLE