Magazine Publishes Wrong Image Of Australian Model Adut Akesh — Why She's Angry

Photo: Instagram
Who Is Adut Akech? New Details On Model And Magazine Who Used Wrong Photo In Profile On Her

She's only been strutting her way down the catwalk for two years, but she's the model everyone's talking about. Adut Akech, 19, is a South Sudanese/Australian model who made her fashion week debut in an exclusive with the Saint Laurent spring/summer 2017 show. This led to shows for fall/winter 2017 and spring/summer 2018 as an exclusive to Saint Laurent. In 2018, she was chosen as 'Model of the Year' by models.com. Now, a magazine has made a major snafu in a profile of her. The photo that accompanies the article about Adut in Who magazine is of Flavia Lazarus, another black model, not Adut Akech. She's justifiably upset. Who is Adut Akech?

1. She's angry and confused

Over the magazine mixup, not life! When Who magazine, a weekly celebrity and entertainment magazine, ran a feature about Akech, but printed a photo of model Flavia Lazarus, a different black model, the 19-year-old took to social media to express her anger. "For those who are not aware, last week @whomagazine (Australia) published a feature article about me. In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to color in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl," she wrote in an Instagram post. It is a lengthy comment and linked here, but it went on to say that the magazine's error was "unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances," and that she felt that her "entire race has been disrespected." She wrote: "It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrowminded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same," she said. "I feel as though this would've not happened to a white model." Who magazine apologized for the gaffe. 

2. Born in South Sudan

Adut Akech was born on Christmas Day 1999 in South Sudan and raised in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. When she was seven, her family moved to Adelaide, Australia as South Sudanese refugees. She has six siblings. She is known as Mary in Adelaide as her Australian school teachers were unable to pronounce her real name.

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3. Start in modeling

Akech was scouted by local modeling agencies when she was just 13. She started her modeling career at 16 when she signed with the Sydney, Australia based modeling agency Chadwick Models. She made her runway debut in a local fashion show her aunt organized. She went on to do Melbourne Fashion Week and sent digital photos of herself to a Saint Laurent casting for Paris Fashion Week. She booked that gig and flew to Paris to make her major Fashion Week debut at Saint Laurent's spring/summer 2017 show. She then signed to Elite Model Management Paris. 

4. Countless runways, editorials and magazine covers

Besides the three Saint Laurent shows, Akech has done two shows for Valentino, one for Zara, one for Moschino. She's walked the runway for Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Kenzo, Prada, Lanvin, Loewe, MiuMiu, Acne Studios, Tom Ford, Tory Burch, Jason Wu, Bottega Veneta, Anna Sui, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Proenza Schouler, Versace and others. She's shot editorials for American Vogue, British Voge, Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, I-D Magazine, Le Monde Magazine, WSJ and Vogue Australia, among others. Akech has landed magazine covers for I-D Magazine, 10 Magazine Australia, Vogue Italia, Vogue UK, Vogue Australia, Portrait, Elle Croatia, L'Officiel Singapore and Le Monde M Magazine.

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5. She's an outspoke advocate against discrimination

During her short (so far) career, Adut has been outspoken about discrimination, an issue she's dealt with for years. After all, it was her teachers in Adelaide that preferred to call her Mary rather than her real name as a little girl becuase they found her real name too hard to pronounce. With the Who magazine mistake, Akech noted  the photo had to be seen by several editors before it went to print. White models are not mistaken for one another, so why are black models? She noted that Australia has to do better and said: "This is an important conversation that needs to happen."

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6. The editorial in Who magazine

What makes the mistaken photo even worse is the fact that the editorial about Akech, who is the ambassador for Melbourne Fashion Week, features the sought-after model talking about how the world views people of color and refugees. She has a very valid point. During the 2017 Emmys red carpet show, music director Rickey Minor was identified on screen as RuPaul. The previous year, the Television Academy identified Terrance Howard as Cuba Gooding Jr. The cast of Crazy Rich Asians complained when a photo of them on People's website was incorrectly identified. There are way too many examples of this for non-white people. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.