Aweng Chuol is one of the most interesting people in the fashion industry. She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, discovered while working at a McDonald’s in Sydney and today is one of the world’s most demanded supermodels. Her eyes change their colour relative to the level of pollution in the air, her face graced the covers of some of the biggest magazines out there. She is outspoken about the ongoing violence in her family’s native country of South Sudan and a sincere fighter for equality. We caught up with Aweng after the cover shoot for our HEREAFTER issue.
9/10: You were scouted while working at a McDonalds, then gave up everything and moved to Paris to pursue your modelling career. Have you always been a very dedicated person?
Aweng: I Would say that I have always been a very dedicated person, my upbringing was full of dedicated people.
You are a black woman, you are LGBT and you are a refugee. It seems like you had all odds stacked up against you but nevertheless became a success story and huge inspiration for many people, not only in fashion. What advice would you give people battling with prejudices?
My biggest advice is that your beginning is never your ending.
You are currently studying law and are set to graduate next year. What importance does education and personal development have in your life?
For me personally, education has always been an important aspect of my character & upbringing.
Not all models and celebrities are as outspoken about social issues as you are. Do you feel like there is an obligation to raise your voice against injustice if you have an audience?
When you have a platform, and an audience, I strongly sit on the hill that you have enough power to speak on important issues, especially the ones that violate human rights.
It seems like these days whenever there is a tragedy somewhere, the hashtag #PrayForXX starts trending for the topic to vanish a few days later. What do you think needs to happen to turn this short term awareness into long term action?
The actions taken after the hashtag.
You have accomplished a lot at a very young age. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In the next five years, I see myself in so many places. I want to see myself all over billboards, in campaigns, as the face of a brand, or two. I also want to have graduated from all of my education pathways, and hopefully I become a model of the year a few times. I also want to have more accolades under my belt.
You’ve stated that you want to be the first female president of South Sudan one day, is that still a goal of yours?
I think it is still a goal, a long goal. Somewhere inside me, a ten year-old kid wants to become the first female president of her homeland.
What would be the first rule you would change or implement if you were elected president of South Sudan today?
Free education, fix the roads, create rail lines, LGBTIQA+ rights.
What are your dreams and hopes for the future of humankind?
For us to truly be kind.