In the new cover feature for Vogue Arabia‘s April 2020 issue, the publication profiles South Sudanese model Eman Deng who is taking the modelling industry by storm.

From becoming a refugee at a young age and fleeing to Uganda to being scouted on Instagram and then walking the runway for top designers including Thom Brown and Rick Owens, Eman’s story is truly inspiring. In the interview, she talks about her journey so far, breaking stereotypes of being a model and bringing change to her country.

Read excerpts below

On how she was scouted
I was scouted on Instagram by my mother agency in Africa, Isis. I was excited and afraid at the same time. The exciting part was that I was going to travel, appear in magazines, and meet the international models that I’ve always looked up to. Getting a visa wasn’t so easy – I almost quit – but being signed is still one of the best things to occur in my life. It hasn’t been an easy journey so far and I’m still struggling to make a name for myself in the industry. Castings scare me but they have given me the opportunity to meet photographers and people I never thought I would. I believe the most important thing is to love yourself, be true to who you are, and love what you do.

On her best parts of being a model
Traveling, meeting new people – the models and superstars I used to see on the TV back home – being in magazines and walking the runway for big designers… It’s all a dream come true. I used to see pictures of Tower Bridge in London and imagine myself there – being a model allowed that to happen.

On shattering the stereotypes of being a model 
Some people from my tribe believe modeling means I will be getting naked pictures taken or that I’ll start taking drugs – these are the things I’m fighting against. I want to prove my culture and community wrong and show them a positive side of the industry.

On her dreams of opening an agency to help young models from Africa.
I’d like it to be one of the strongest in South Sudan and to be a place to educate and offer support. I want to be a person who brings change in my country, to open doors for local girls, and connect them with international clients. But I have so many other plans, too, like opening an orphanage. When I was growing up I didn’t live with both my parents so I understand the struggle. I feel I have to make a change in my community – I’d like to become a voice for the voiceless, to be that hope for someone who has lost hope.

Read the full interview on