Anok Yai was scouted as a model while attending Howard homecoming. Just recently, her dreams of modeling were surpassed when she was not only able to walk during fashion month, but she opened the Prada show — and was the first model to do so since Naomi Campbell in 1997. At just 19 years old, Yai is already making history and representing for all the black girls with dreams of being in fashion.
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 😂💋
"It was an honor and I'm proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me," she told Vogue. "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."
And being a Prada exclusive (only walking for one brand's shows in a season) is actually Yai's first job in fashion. So far she has two runway shows and three campaigns for the brand under her belt. And although opening a show comes with a lot of pressure, she's clearly a natural with the confidence she exuded.
"I only found out I was going to be opening about an hour before it started," she said, "When I was backstage, I noticed that the production team was really going crazy about making sure my hair and make-up was done, but I didn't really think anything of it. Before we all changed into our looks, the production team had me do a walk-through of the runway for a third time. I asked her why I was the only one doing it and that's when I was told I was opening. I was pretty anxious before walking but the second I got on the catwalk all the nerves went away."
We look forward to more from Yai, and to more brands recognizing the beauty in diversity!