STORY OF ADUT AKECH BIOR: WORLD TOP BLACK MODEL.
Adut Akech is a South Sudanese-Australian model born 25 December 1999. She appeared on the cover of the British Vogue on September 2019 and On 2 December 2019, she won the ‘Model of the Year’ award at the British Fashion Awards in London.
ADUT AKECH BIOR STORY
As much as I hated the thought of moving to another country I knew that this was what’s best for me and my family’s future. This was the first time I was ever forced to see the bigger picture. As much as I don’t want to leave behind the life I had known I, I knew that Kenya didn’t have much to offer me and my family. At age six I received what at the time I thought was the worst yet also the best news, that my family and I got approved to move to Australia.
This process was done by my auntie and my older sister who had moved to Australia before me. I was thrilled when I heard that I was going to be seeing my sister who I haven’t seen in years. Due to living in different city with my auntie I didn’t get to see my older sister much and that made me really sad and every time she would come to visit I never wanted her to leave. I’d cry and beg her to stay on every visit because it was really fun to have someone to play with. Some girls would bully me because I didn’t have my older sister around to stick up for me all the time so whenever she came to visit I’d tell her who bullied me and she would go and confront then and all the girls would be scared and not bully me until she left again.
After civil war broke out in South Sudan my family fled, and during this time my mother was pregnant with me and I was born on the way to Kenya. On 25 December, 1999 I was born and some days later my family safely made it to a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. This is where my family settled down and started a new life. My mother was working hard non-stop to put food on the table especially for my older sister and I. She made sure that we had clothes to wear and shoes on our feet. This was 10 times better been living in South Sudan, but making a living was not easy. You had to work really hard for survival.
After a few years of living in Kakuma my auntie and her brothers, along with my older sister moved to Nairobi to start the process of getting our visa’s to move to Australia which would take up to two years. I really wanted to go to school like all the other kids, I begged my mum all the time and with much sadness in her voice she would tell me that “I wish I could baby” and at some point I started to accept the fact that it’s wasn’t because my mum didn’t want me to get an education but it was because we just didn’t have enough money for it, which really sucked but those were the circumstances.
One day we finally got the good news and a few days later got the worst news of my life. My family and I lost a really special family member. This really took a toll on my family especially my mother and myself. Due to this we extended our departure date to a few months later.
After some months, the big day finally came that we were leaving Nairobi and the life we had there to move to Australia to start a much better new life. I was really sad about leaving my friends and family, I was scared of the thought of having to start a new life from scratch but at the same time I was excited to see what life was going to be like in Australia.
During the trip to Australia I can’t stop wondering about everything. When we landed in Adelaide I took a deep breath in and told myself this is it, this my new home now as I was stepping out of the plane. We were greeted by many family members that I was excited to see but the person I was most excited to see was my older sister and auntie.
When I saw my sister I dropped everything I was holding and ran to her crying and she did exactly the same thing I gave her the biggest hug, and we both whispered to each other that we are finally together for good. When we finally got home from the airport and we were having dinner, I asked if I could please say something for everyone to hear. I said “thank you mum for bringing me to Australia for a better life, I promise you I’m going to getting my education and make you proud of me”.
That night before going to sleep I made a promise to myself that I was going to get my education not just for my mum but also for me. I promised that I was going to make something out of myself; something really good that would make people proud of me especially my mother. And that is exactly what I have done. Although I didn’t exactly know what I would do with my life at the time considering I was just seven-years-old, I was just going to take one step at a time.
I started my new life in Australia by going to school and working hard. I started with English school and after graduating I went to my first proper primary school. I immediately fell in love with learning; I loved school so much that I hated the weekend because I just wanted to be at school every day.
As I got older I realised that I had a passion for fashion. I grew up watching the Victoria’s Secret show and looking up to people like Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks etc. I said I want to be like them, I wanted to walk the runway like them.
My first experience with modelling was at age 13, walking a little runway show for my auntie to showcase her designs. The minute I stepped onto the stage it was like I had just been shot by something I automatically fell in love with and just knew that, this is what I wanted to do. When I told my mum I wanted to model she was not very thrilled as I was young and she just wanted me to just focus on school and I remember telling her I’m going to be able to do both. This is what I did. I set myself some goals to achieve. I worked really hard and was 100% dedicated and one thing I never did was give up no matter how tough things got.
The past few years I’ve been doing my high school full time and recently travelling with modelling and am about to graduate year 12 in a few months. So many people doubted me, a lot of people said that I couldn’t do it, they said I was not capable of doing both at once. But instead of allowing them to bring me down I used these people as my biggest source of motivation.
I love proving people wrong and that’s what I told myself I was going to do and that’s exactly what I have done. Not only have I made my family proud but I’ve also made my South Sudanese people proud and it is the greatest feeling in the world. With everything that’s happening within my community and all the negativity on the news it makes me happy know that what I am doing is being recognised and spoken about positively.
One of my proudest moments was when I did an interview on Channel 7 News, this was the first time I felt there was something positive said about South Sudanese people, after months of regular negatively on the news.
Working with an iconic Australian brand like David Jones is also a really big achievement for me. I’m really proud of the spring summer campaign that I shot for them. My mother has always been my biggest inspiration. She is the most hard-working independent woman I have ever known. I can proudly and truthfully say that I am the hard-working young lady I am today because of my mother. She taught me to always have faith and never lose hope. She taught that nothing is just handed to you and you have to work hard for it. She showed me what dedication and determination looks like. She showed me what making life changing sacrifices for something you truly love and believe in looks like.
When I was younger I always said I want to be exactly just like my mother. I wanted to do everything that she did and now actually do feel like a mini version of her. And I wish that my future daughters look up to the same way I looked up to my mum as a little girl. I am truly proud of all I have accomplished so far and I’m just going to continue working hard towards achieving my dreams, goals and ambitions.
SPOKEN BY ADUT AKECH BIOR
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