British Vogue has released a stunning February 2022 issue starring nine Black African models in a stylish editorial shoot. Models Adut Akech, Akway Amar, Majesty Amare, Akon Changkou, Dibaa Maty, Jumbo Janet, Abeny Nhial, Nyaguaa, and Anok Yai all shared the cover. Photographed by Rafael Pavarotti, the heritage of the ladies range from Senegalese to Rwandan to Sudanese to Nigerian to Ethiopian.
“I saw all these incredible models from across Africa who were just so vivacious and smart,” said Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief in the magazine. “These girls,” he continued, “are redefining what it is to be a fashion model.”
Enninful also spoke to the cover on Instagram, writing “No longer just one or two dark-skinned girls mingled backstage, but a host of top models took a meaningful, substantial and equal place among the most successful women working in fashion today. It means so much to me to see it.”
The models themselves also opened up about the now-viral magazine cover.
“When I first started modelling internationally…I would literally be the only Black, dark-skinned girl in the show. There were no Sudanese models, no African models,” remarked Akech to British Vogue. “Now,” she added, “I go to a show and there are girls from my country, girls from Africa who look like me. So yes, there has been a huge change. It has gone from me being the only one at a show to 15 or 20 of us. I’m just so happy that we are finally at this place. I was tired of always feeling out of place and feeling like an outcast.”
Yai, the Egyptian-born Sudanese model who was discovered after a photographer took her photo at Howard University homecoming in 2017, also shared her experience in the industry and finding friendship with other Black women models.
“In the beginning, I felt really isolated,” Yai recalled. “I got thrown into the modeling industry very quickly and I kind of had to navigate it on my own. I also have social anxiety, and so I struggled a lot with connecting with people. Backstage, there would maybe be one other Black girl, but now my tribe is backstage. I can speak my own language to my friends. They are basically like my family.”
The February 2022 issue of British Vogue is set to hit newsstands on Jan. 18. Read the full story here.