Six months ago Akiima Yong was just a face in the crowd.
Now, she’s the face of fashion, modelling for labels Valentino and Prada.
“I was working and studying, and just having a normal life,” the 22-year-old told SBS World News.
Born in South Sudan, it was in her new home of Adelaide where she became a near-overnight sensation.
The former refugee was propelled into the world of international fashion, just weeks after walking into a modelling agency.
Finesse Models managing director Brigette Mitchell remembers the day she signed her up on the spot.
“It’s the quickest it’s ever happened, via this agency, that’s for sure,” said Ms Mitchell.
Akiima is now in demand all over the world – but she’s in Australia this week to front the Adelaide Fashion Festival.
“Akiima is just such a beautiful girl. I mean, her neck and her stature and her fabulousness. She just was born to do this,” Adelaide Fashion Festival Creative Director Chris Kontos said.
“In our industry, we love diversity. We love to have different looking people and different ideas within our runways.”
Although she is home, she won’t be staying for very long. Her busy schedule takes her straight back to the catwalks of Europe.
The model with the stand-out face also has an enormous heart. South Sudan and its people are never far from her mind, she says.
“It’s not good, everything that’s happening back home. We see it, and we just try to help back home,” Akiima said.
The former aged care worker also plans to one day return to study nursing.
“I want to be around people and help them as much as I can in the near future, and make them comfortable.”
But first, a career in the spotlight that is only just beginning.