Culture & Entertainment

10 Times Anok Yai Captivated Us With Her Undeniable Beauty

Anok Yai is a name many have uttered since well before her showstopping turn as a head-turner on the 2024 MET Gala carpet. There, the supermodel stunned the carpet wearing a full-body Swarovski-jeweled ombre jumpsuit, covered in 98,000 crystals from head-to-toe, and serving face, body, and then some all night long. To put it simply, sis ate. However, the 26-year-old tends to have that effect on people.

The South Sudanese model got her start after being spotted at a Howard homecoming event and at 19 years old, she posed for a photo (captured by Steven Hall) that catapulted her into modeling, something the former biochemistry student once believed was out of reach. The pic went viral, Anok signed with Next Management, and the rest is history. As one Twitter user eloquently put it, with that skin, those face-lifting brows, gorgeous eyes, and an undeniably flawless face, Anok is "a work of art."

Since then, Anok has been the epitome of booked and busy. In 2018, she was the first Sudanese model and only the second Black model to ever open a Prada runway show, the first being Naomi Campbell. She has graced international catwalks, walking for the likes of fashion powerhouses Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Fendi to name a few. She has been featured in numerous campaigns for legacy brands like Chanel and Tiffany & Co. She has also starred in music videos for artists like Travis Scott and Lil Yachty. Most recently, the stunner became the face of Mugler's latest fragrance, Alien Hypersense.

But her rise in ascent in the fashion world in terms of popularity and becoming a muse for some of the biggest fashion houses wasn't always easy. Even more recently, the trailblazer took to X (formerly Twitter) to share a racist experience she had while on a set early on in her career. In a series of now-deleted posts, she'd eventually reveal that the incident happened with a photographer shooting her for the popular retailer Zara.

"I remember in 2019 being called a "cockroach" by a photographer in Spanish. It was from this brand that I used to always work with," she wrote in her posts about Zara. Anok went on, "On the 2nd to last day, the makeup artist starts powdering my face and the photographer puts his camera down and yells ‘Lotion la cucaracha’ Everyone on set starts smiling and laughing. I can’t react the way I want to react because at the end of the day I’m young, I’m alone, I’m Black … anything that I do will affect me, my family, and other Black models."

Despite her discomfort, the then-up-and-comer stood on business by refusing to go on set if the photographer who made the offensive comment was still there. "Someone from the team calls me and says ‘we don’t accept that type of behavior, we’ll fire him now. Tell me who he is and we’ll get rid of him.’ I go to set thinking he’s gonna be gone. He walks by me and smiles." Anok then explained that she was 'gaslit' and was told she 'made it up.'

She continued, "I told her I wasn’t lying, she still doesn’t believe me. But I could tell she wanted me to sit down and shut up so I forced them to call my car to the airport and pay my full rate regardless. I remember wanting to come out with the story to magazines but I was told 'think about what it will do to your career.'"

"That was my first (and not only) time being blacklisted I’m sure they thought I wasn’t strong enough to stand But anyways," Anok's series of posts concluded.

Anok Yai/Instagram

Anok is no stranger to advocating for herself. In the past, she has been known for agreeing to only wear her natural hair in an afro or in cornrows during runway shows. "I got quite a hard pushback from the brands, but they noticed I was just standing my ground," she explained in a 2023 interview with Vogue. "When I first started saying no, I was so scared. But what helped me is that I had a really strong team."

This week wasn't the first time Anok took to social media to recount negative or harmful experiences. She did so before to allude to the reason she decided to part ways with long-time agency Next Management in late 2023. After Next Management implied she had been 'dropped' from the agency, Anok mentioned them in one of her Instagram Stories, warning them to 'keep it cute' in how they framed her departure.

The fashion industry can be cutthroat, no matter your experience. Add melanin to the mix, and the grind gets that much harder. Despite some adversities along the path to success, Anok has been able to dust herself off and level up into a promising career with notoriety and longevity. And she has managed to do so while keeping as true to herself as possible.

Our good sis and her face card will never decline, so those who can't compare should never try to compete. Bigotry be damned.

Consider this a reminder, keep reading for 8 more times Anok Yai captivated us with her beauty on Instagram:

The time when Anok played it coy in cream...

The time she was all smiles pictured with Prada

When she served bawdy and R&R while in Senegal

When she dropped her model off duty beauty routine on Vogue

The time she rocked her TWA in the waterways of Venice

When she reinvented the classic bathroom selfie with a series of flicks

When she captivated us in baby blues

The time she gave model off-duty on a Friday

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Featured image by Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images




This article is in partnership with SheaMoisture

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