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Alek Wek

Sudanese-British supermodel

Dinka tribe | Sudanese | Supermodel | Age: 30 years | Sun sign: Aries

Alek Wek is a supermodel who belongs to the Dinka ethnic group in Sudan.
She had to flee to Britain in 1991 to escape the civil war in Sudan. She
started her modeling career in Britain and became famous as an African
Supermodel. She now lives in Brooklyn, USA. She is also known for her
charitable work with the UN. She works to raise awareness of the plight of
refugees worldwide.

Childhood and early life


Alek Wek was born on 16th April 1977 in Wau, Sudan. Her father Athian was
an education official and her mother Akuol a housewife. She is the seventh of
the nine children in the family. Her name means The black and white cow a
tribal good luck symbol. Her name is pronounced as Uh lek. She had to flee
Sudan with her family because of the civil war in 1982. The family moved to
Khartoum. Her father died in Khartoum owing to complications of a hip
replacement surgery.

After a short stay in Khartoum she went to England without her mother. Her
sister who had moved to England before the civil war applied for refugee
status for the family. Alek and her sister were accepted first and it was only
after 2 years that her mother and two more siblings could join them in
England. Alek had psoriasis - a skin condition which immediately
disappeared when she came to England probably due to change in climatic
conditions.

Career
Alek learnt English quickly and studied Fashion Technology at Londons
prestigious institute, The London College of Fashion. Her modeling career
began in 1995 when Fiona Ellis a Models One scout spotted her at a London
market in Crystal Palace, London. She signed to Models One and appeared in
a Tina Turner video. She later appeared in a Janet Jackson video also. She
also appeared in publications like Vibe and i-D. In 1996 she was signed to
Ford Models based in New York. Within a year she was invited to walk in
Ralph Laurens show. She has worked with many leading Fashion houses. She
was ranked #14 by Chanel 5 on their list of Worlds Greatest Models.

As an Exquisite Beauty
Alek was dark skinned and long limbed like her father. Dark skinned models
were very rare in the fashion industry. She was the first black model and her
exotic looks were appreciated. Her success was celebrated by black women
throughout the world. Many others like the Kenyan actress Lupita Nyongo
were encouraged by her success. Peoples magazine featured her as one of
50 most Beautiful People. She has appeared in Oprah Winfreys Chat show
and was a guest judge in Americas Next Top Model.

Awards and Achievements


She received Best New Model award at the Venus de la Mode Fashion
model. She was the 1997 MTV model of the year and Model of the decade of
i-D. Alek Wek was the first African woman to be featured on the cover of
Elle magazine in 1997.In 1999 she was photographed by Herb Ritts for a
calendar. Her body was painted in bright vivid colors by the artist Joanne
Gair.

Other Works
She made her acting debut in 2002 as a Sudanese princess in the film The
Four Feathers.

In 2002 she released an autobiography Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to


International Supermodel. Alek launched Wek 1933 a line of handbags in
2005. This is dedicated to her father who was born that year. The designs are
inspired from the brass clasp briefcase her father carried. In Sep 2007 she
appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine with models Tyra Banks and
Kimora lee.

Social Causes
Alek Wek supports many charitable causes. She uses her popularity to
spread awareness about the refugee crisis.

She is advisor to the US Committee for Refugees advisory council since 2002.

She is a missionary for World Vision, UNICEF and an ambassador for Doctors
without Borders in Sudan. She returned to Sudan in 2012 with the UN
Refugee Agency to highlight the stories of refugees and campaigned to
rebuild the country. With Amarula she was the face of their Campaign African
Originals.