Barely a week ago, we were applauding the stratospheric rise of model Anok Yai, whose career famously began when the then-college sophomore was photographed by a street-style photographer at Howard University’s 2017 Homecoming celebration.
In the months since, Yai has signed with one of the biggest agencies in the world (Next Models), appeared in British Vogue twice, walked the runway for Louis Vuitton and scored a campaign for Prada, who also broke a disappointing 20-year streak when they made Yai—also 20—only the second black model in the history of the house to open one of its runway shows.
Now, Yai can add another major milestone to her quickly growing resume: legendary cosmetics brand Estée Lauder has now made the model their newest face. Earning a coveted contract with the brand, Yai joins Misty Copeland, Joan Smalls and a slew of other high-profile faces as a global spokesmodel with the company.
In a promotional video, the Egyptian-born and American raised Yai credits her Sudanese parents for instilling in her an ethic that echoed Lauder’s personal edict: she “never dreamed of success, she worked for it.” Yai also lauds the brand for their increasing efforts towards inclusive beauty and calls her mother—a fashion plate herself—her greatest beauty inspiration.
The honor of scoring her first contract as a spokesmodel, Yai, who has spoken openly about the lack of representation in the fashion industry and visibility of models who looked like her when she was a child, said in a statement:
I am so excited to be a part of the Estée Lauder family. To be a woman of color representing an iconic brand that has continuously been at the forefront of beauty is an honor. I hope to be an inspiration to young girls and women and encourage them to feel undeniably beautiful.