Adut Akech: "I'm leaving behind toxic, negative people"
The Time 100 model tells Rihanna about her work with the UN, helping refugees and the power of positivity.
This story originally appeared in i-D's 'Rihannazine' Special Edition, no. 01, 2020. Order your copy here. For this one-off project, Rihanna put a series of questions to the women shaping culture today, and invited them to share their visions for 2020.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Adut Akech. I am a model and I work with the UN with refugees, for UNHCR. And I do a whole other bunch of stuff, too!
What do you think your biggest personal or professional success has been so far?
It’s hard to chose what’s topped what! But one of my biggest successes was the fact that I was in the Time
100 list. Which was awesome, because it had nothing to do with fashion – it was in its own little world. To be recognised as one of those 100 people who are making a positive change – to be one of the youngest and the only model on there – I thought that was pretty crazy.
So things are going well for you?
Better than expected, honestly. Everything just kind of… happened.
What would you consider to be your biggest failure?
I wouldn't necessarily say I’d had any big failures. I think there have just been occasions where it wasn’t my time to do something. Everything happens for a reason. There is work that I’ve missed out on, but that’s alright. I think I’ve done a pretty awesome job of whatever I’ve put my mind to. I put in 100%, and even if it doesn't work out I’ve done my best with it, so I don’t consider it a failure.
As we’re heading into 2020, what are you taking with you into t his year, and what are you leaving behind in 2019?
I’m leaving behind negative, toxic people and I’m taking the good energy with me. I’m going forwards with new ideas and new goals. I’m excited to see what happens.
So if you could ask Rihanna one question, what would it be?
She’s gonna kill me for saying this, but Rihanna, where is that album?! We have been waiting! We love you. I’m so proud of what you’ve been doing and it’s awesome. So take your time, because we know when you drop that album it’s going to be bomb. But, with love, where’s that album, sis?
Photography Mario Sorrenti
Styling Alastair McKimm
Hair Duffy at Streeters.
Make-up Kanako Takase at Streeters.
Nail technician Alicia Torello at The Wall Group using Chanel.
Set design Jack Flanagan at The Wall Group.
Colourist Lena Ott for Suite Caroline.
Lighting technician Lars Beaulieu.
Photography assistance Kotaro Kawashima, Javier Villegas and Jared Zagha.
Digital technician Johnny Vicari.
Styling assistance Madison Matusich and Milton Dixon.
Hair assistance Lukas Tralmer, Juli Akaneya and Allie J.
Make-up assistance Kuma and Tomoyo Shionome.
Set design assistance Colin Walker and Joe Arai.
Production Katie Fash.
Production coordinator Layla Némejanski.
Production assistance Fujio Emura.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Casting assistance Cicek Brown for DMCASTING.
Model Adut Akech and Kyla Coleman at The Society.
Lede image Adut wears bra and briefs Savage x Fenty.