I have eight brothers and sisters, so I’d like to have a few children.
– Alek Wek
Having arrived in London to seek refuge during the civil war in Sudan, where I was born, the thing I’m most proud of is having totally evolved. I came here not knowing how to speak English, but I went to school and learned; I adapted to this new culture.
Starting modeling in the ’90s, it was quite surreal. They were like, ‘You’re so different! So weird! So bizarre!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m so normal. What are you talking about?’
I feel, in 2015, when we see human beings and children dying to cross the ocean, trying to find safety, something more must be done to help them because refugees are just like me and you.
There are people who can look out for other human beings; there are people who can speak up when something is not right and say, ‘This is wrong, and something should be done.’
From nine years old, I lived with fear. I saw our neighbours disappearing. I was scared that I would come home from school and my parents would not be there.
I grew up in a small town in Sudan. There weren’t many cars, so we did things in the countryside near where we lived.
I don’t even know where to start in terms of people having such an issue about color, especially being dark. I just think on different levels it’s ignorance; it’s no belief, no confidence, it’s insecurity, so you want to inflict it on somebody else.
There’s one thing we all share: We eat to nurture ourselves, to feel stronger.
I don’t understand when people are being greedy or mean, when they say who should get what, when they get control of someone else’s life.
When you give, you receive.
When I was 10 years old, I fled my homeland amid the bomb blasts of civil war in Sudan.
I like unique little boutique hotels, such as Blakes in London.
I think the fashion industry has gotten to a place where it is embarrassing.
I would love to continue to model but also have a family.
You could fancy what you’d like, but as a woman, my mother always raised us to believe in ourselves. I am very grateful that my mother brought me up that way.
My mother always has embedded in us that you guys rock in different ways, and to be able to celebrate that with each other is just beautiful.
When I was 14, I came to school in London. I remember it was very cold, but also having to adjust and become fluent in English.
War tore my family apart.
When I started modeling, it was like, ‘Oh, she’s too dark,’ and I kind of looked at them like, ‘You’re too daft.’
We survived on natural resources, so we should take care of the earth. When I leave home, I do things like switching off the heat and lights.
When I first started working with World Vision, I would sit down and talk with them about issues that concern any part of the world. MSF told me about what was going on in North Korea. I also support AIDS and breast cancer charities.
I grew up in southern Sudan, one of nine children. Our life was simple but very happy.
There was no concept of fashion and catwalk shows where I came from.
True beauty is born through our actions and aspirations and in the kindness we offer to others.
It’s a small world when you’re from South Sudan.
You can feel very strongly that someone doesn’t like you. I think any model who didn’t have the same sort of upbringing as me would find that very difficult. But I absolutely knew I was entitled. I never thought I was ugly – it never crossed my mind.
South Sudanese people are rich like the soil; they just need a little water, and they will grow.
Restaurants serve huge portions on even huger platters, and people are tempted to eat too much.
We eat to live.