Anok Yai is an American fashion model. She is the first South Sudanese model and the second black model after Naomi Campbell to open a Prada show. She has made several appearances on i-D and international Vogue covers, including American Vogue three times. Models.com ranks her as one of the “New Supers” of this generation.
Years active: 2017-present
Born age: December 20, 1997, 43 years old and 7 months, Cairo, Egypt
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Height: 5 ft 10 in / 1.78 m
Measurements: 30-23-34 in / 76-58-86
Bra size: 30B US / 65B EU
Nationalities: American , Egyptian , Sudanese
Brother: Thiik Yai
Sister: Alim Yai
Brother In-Law: Sam Quinta
Relative: Marach Yai
Yai was born in Cairo, Egypt on December 20, 1997. Her family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire when she was 3. Her mother is a nurse and her father works for Easterseals; her sister Alim is her manager and a financial consultant.
School: Bakersville School, Manchester High School West and Parkside Middle School
Yai was discovered in October 2017 during Howard University‘s homecoming week, by a professional photographer Steve ‘theSUNK’ Hall who asked to take her picture. He posted the photo on Instagram, accruing over 20,000 likes, and modeling agencies, including IMG Models, asked to get in touch with her. She eventually chose to sign with Next Model Management, who had called her daily for several weeks. Within 4 months, she became the first Sudanese model to open a Prada fashion show, which is deemed the highest feat in fashion modeling because of the careers Prada has launched. She has also appeared in the Prada SS 2018 campaign and an upcoming Nike campaign designed by Givenchy‘s Riccardo Tisci.
On her breakthrough moment, she told Vogue:
“It was an honor and I’m proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me. 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.”
Yai has walked the runways for Versace, Max Mara, Fendi, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Givenchy, Loewe, Chloé, Dries van Noten, Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Dior, Sacai, Bottega Veneta, Alberta Ferretti, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Anna Sui, Proenza Schouler, Haider Ackermann, Lanvin, Alexander Wang, Alexander McQueen, Carolina Herrera, Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, Longchamp, Coach, Paco Rabanne, H&M, Margiela, Jacquemus, Etro, Alaïa, Ports, Ann Demeulemeester, Courrèges, The Row, Marni, Benetton, Del Core, Schiaparelli, Off-White, Ferrari, Dolce & Gabbana, Fear of God, Boss, Mugler and Coperni. She has also appeared in advertisements for Tiffany & Co., Nike, Hood by Air, and Ambush.
Yai has appeared on the covers and editorials of Vogue (including several of international editions), W magazine, CR Fashion Book, AnOther, Dust, Purple, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D, Self Service, V Magazine, Elle, Garage, Document Journal, Dazed, and Pop.
In 2018, Yai appeared in an advertising campaign for a S/S Nike, Riccardo Tisci, and Minotaurs collaboration. In July 2018, she became an Estée Lauder spokes model. In December 2018, she was featured in a campaign for Alexander Wang‘s “Collection 1” Drop 2. Also in that year, she was featured on the covers of Dazed, i-D, Purple Fashion, and Dust.
In 2019, Yai appeared in a short film for the Chanel-Pharrell Collection, alongside Adut Akech and Alton Mason. She was featured on the covers of AnOther, CR Fashion Book, PRINT, W, Vogue (including its Korean, Italian, Brazilian, and Japanese editions).
In 2020, Yai modeled for the Versace Resort “Flash 2021” campaign. She appeared in the Alexander McQueen F/W 2020 campaign, photographed by Jamie Hawkesworth. Yai once again appeared on cover of Vogue (its Japanese, German, Dutch, and American editions).
In 2021, Yai starred in the Ambush S/S 2021 collection campaign photographed by Ethan James Green. She led Hood by Air‘s “02 PROLOGUE” campaign photoshoot in June 2021. Juergen Teller photographed her for a Yves Saint Laurent Winter 2021 advertisement. In September 2021, she appeared on the cover of Vogue along with other models including Ariel Nicholson, Bella Hadid, and Kaia Gerber.
In 2022, Yai appeared in two S/S campaigns shot by Steven Meisel for Max Mara and Alexander McQueen. She modeled for Loro Piana in a photoshoot shot by Mario Sorrenti. Yai later reunited with Meisel for a September campaign for Tiffany & Co. Rose Gold Eau de Parfum. In February 2022, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue alongside an all Black modeling cast. One of the first instances Yai was officially recognized as a supermodel was in September 2022 cover celebrating the 50th anniversary of W.
In 2023, Yai was featured in a Vogue tribute cover to Karl Lagerfeld, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. She also covered Vogue Spain, Vogue Italy and i-D. Yai appeared in the music video for the song “Say Something” by American rapper Lil Yachty.
Following her appearance at the 2023 Met Gala in customPrabal Gurung, she was ranked one of the “best dressed supermodels” by Vogue Australia. W magazine remarked: “Yai could not be missed in her look”.
Yai is ranked as one of the “Top 50” models by models.com, and is now considered to be one of the “New Supers”.
Favorites, Hobbies, Likes
Hobbies: Music, swimming, Singing
Foods: Cheeseburger, French fries
Colors: Black, Red
Likes: Bingo, Pickles
Sports Activity: Basketball
Fran Summers (model)
Alyssa Traoré (model)
Selena Forrest (model)
Anok Yai Facts & Trivia
- Ancestry: Anok is a Egyptian born American by nationality, but a South Sudanese by descent
- Second black model: Anok is the only second black model to open her own Prada show after English actress & model Naomi Campbell
- America’s Next Top Model: Anok used to watch ‘America’s Next Top Model’ as a child, she grew up following fashion
- Top 50: Models.com list Anok as one of the contemporary. She tops the chart by number of campaigns, Ranks 3rd by the number of covers and has quite a big social following as well.
- The beginning: It all began in 2017 for Anok at the Howard University’s homecoming week. photographer Steve Hall(of SUNK Creative) who noticed her perfect features, asked her for a picture, She posed in her blue jean cut shorts, with her curly hair spread over the shoulder, a tight black top with her eyes staring at the camera, he published it on his Instagram profile, the picture became viral among fashion enthusiasts and the industry heads recognized Anok. ‘IMG Models’ started talks with her, ‘White Cross Management’ reached out. ‘Next Model Management’ became her agents. Anok’s follower count rose from 150 to about 60,000 within a week following the viral post.
- Pet: The Yai family has a pet dog- German Shephard named Draco
- Spokesmodel: she became an Estée Lauder spokesmodel in July 2018
- Anok was always interested in modeling though she did not actively seek a career in it. Her lucks and looks landed her where her heart was.
- Anok played basketball at school, she in fact continued to be the team leader ever after the injury she had in her junior year.
- ROCK: Name Anok has used on her Instagram profile, possibly the name she likes for herself. It Rhymes with Anok and indicative of strong character. She has also referred to herself as ‘Anok Rock the Witch’ in one of her instagram posts.
- Naomi Campbell: Anok considers British supermodel Naomi Campbell to be her inspiration. She had inspired Anok who had seen her at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show of 2003.
- Flexible thumb: she has a very flexible thumb, she can bend it all the way back
- Night Owl: She calls herself a night owl, she loves staying awake for long in the night
- Nike campaign: Anok has appeared in the Nike campaign designed by French luxury fashion wears- Givenchy’s Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci.
- Anok loves children and wants to have her own children and grandchildren
Anok Yai Quotes
- 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
- Being a model is not like a stable job, If modeling doesn’t work out, I’ll just get my degree
- I have always thought about modeling. It is a dream that I have wanted for a long time but always pushed to the side because of self doubt & distractions from school. Now I see this dream as something a lot more obtainable.
- [On her inspiration Naomi Campbell] I saw that she was dark-skinned, and I saw how powerful she was and how successful her career had been, and it just inspired me to want to be like her.
- I feel like I’m representing all the women of color who don’t see themselves often portrayed or appreciated in the media
- I could never get the right shade in the past, in an average store, it would be so many lighter shades, & then maybe like three options for black women. But black is a very broad spectrum [by itself]
- We can show the world that there is more than one standard of beauty.
- Women are not always raised to be as great as they can possibly be. They are told to care more about how they look & to be extremely feminine. Science, Mathematics & Technology are still considered male jobs. I definitely want girls to be looking into STEM programs.
- I was insecure about my skin because I looked up to people in the media, though I looked up to the black women, I never saw women that were as dark as me. I want to be a role model for young dark skinned girls & girls in general, I want to bring to light ideas of self-love & self-confidence.
- I’m happy because I can do what I am passionate about
- Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong