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The Fashion Awards 2019: 'Model of the Year' Adut Akech calls for greater diversity

'Someone like me winning this award is a rarity'

Sarah Young
Tuesday 03 December 2019 09:22 GMT
Valentino resort 2019 advertising campaign featuring Adut Akech

Supermodel Adut Akech received a standing ovation at the 2019 Fashion Awards on Monday night after giving a rousing speech on diversity in the fashion industry.

A host of young and burgeoning talent were presented with honours at the awards, which are now in their 33rd year of running.

Among them was 19-year-old Sudanese-Australian model Akech - who became a refugee at 7 years old - as she collected the prize for Model of the Year.

While the majority of winners on the night used their moment on stage to thank the 2,500 key members of the fashion industry who nominate, and then elect the winners, Akech chose to shine a spotlight on the need for greater diversity.

“It is important for all of us to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity,” Akech said after expressing her gratitude for being given the award.

“This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work. I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did.

“To them, I say this: Whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s modelling or acting or medicine, you should never doubt yourself.

“Don’t let the world convince you that it is not possible.”

The accolade marks the end of an impressive year for the model who, in 2019 alone, has appeared on five Vogue covers in one month, starred in her very first fragrance campaign for Valentino, and earned a spot on the esteemed Time 100 Next list.

Last month, Time magazine said the aim of its new list was to shine a spotlight on influential individuals “who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health and more”.

Time writer Cady Lang wrote a profile of Akech for the list, praising her for “calling out racism and amplifying the stories of her fellow refugees”.

Despite all of her achievements, Akech has made it clear that there is still a long way to go in terms of racial diversity in the fashion industry.

“Me doing the things that I have done goes to show that there is change happening, but there’s still a long way to go,“ she recently told Miss Vogue.

”It just makes me so happy to see all these models of different skin colours being used for these big brand campaigns, editorials and magazine covers, which wasn’t happening when I started doing it, not that long ago in 2016.

“It’s a great achievement, but we haven’t reached our end goal yet.”

In December 2018, Akech beat models including Ashley Graham, Adwoa Aboah and Gigi Hadid to be named Model of the Year at The Model of the Year Industry Awards, which are held by fashion news site

The awards involve more than 250 people from the world of fashion, including casting directors, photographers and stylists, casting their vote in categories such as best male and female models of the year, best social media stars and most impressive comeback.

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