The New, NEW Black Woman: Alek Wek

Black is beautiful. But I know y’all already knew that. The fashion industry has been a bit slower to catch on, but the stunningly gorgeous model Alek Wek has taught the industry a thing or two about the allure of smooth, dark-chocolate colored skin over the years.

Alek Wek was born in 1977 as a member of the Dinka ethnic group in what is now South Sudan. When she was still a teenager Alek and her family were forced to flee the civil war in her home country for a new life in Britain.

In 1995 while shopping at an outdoor market in London Alek was noticed by a model scout and the rest, as they say, is history; that same year she appeared in the music video for “GoldenEye” by Tina Turner. Wek’s career took off and she quickly became one of the world’s top models. She was signed to Ford Models in 1996 and was also seen in the “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” music video by Janet Jackson that year. Alek was named “Model of the Year” in 1997 by MTV and became the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle, also in 1997. Proving that she doesn’t just know how to wear fashion, but truly has an eye for it, Alek designs handbags under her own label “Alek1933″.

A woman as stunning as Wek could be content to just have outward beauty, but she chose to also display her inner beauty when she became a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council. As a member of that committee, Wek is using her stardom to bring attention to the plight of refugees worldwide, particularly those in her native Sudan. She is a missionary for World Vision, an organisation which combats AIDS, an ambassador for Doctors Without Borders in Sudan, and devotes time to UNICEF.

In 2007, Wek released an autobiography, entitled Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel.