Australian model Duckie Thot has dominated the US fashion industry in the past year. She made her debut appearance at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 catwalk show, has been shot by Mario Testino for V magazine, appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, closed the Naeem Khan spring 2017 catwalk at New York Fashion Week and recently fronted Rihanna’s new beauty range, Fenty Beauty.
But the 21-year-old model has revealed in an interview that she felt forced to move overseas because of the Australian fashion industry’s lack of acceptance when it comes to different skin colours and ethnicities.
The Sudanese model, a former Australia’s Next Top Model favourite who was flagged as the next Naomi Campbell, spoke out in US Paper magazine about the struggles of being an out-of-work coloured model in Australia. Since coming third on season eight of the show in 2013 she almost seemed to disappear from the Australian industry.
“I didn’t understand why, but I wasn’t getting any work,” Thot told Paper magazine’s Michael Cuby.
“I think it was a very confusing part of my life for me. I was just this little [black] girl in Australia just being like, ‘Oh yeah, I want to do modelling’, but [while also] being in a country that doesn’t promote black models. It was kind of like a mindf— all in itself anyways, so I didn’t really get how far I was going to go with it.”
In the past year Australia has something of a diversity awakening, with models including Ajak Deng and Subah Koj being dominant faces of fashion week and campaigns. But for Thot, whose real name is Nyadak (her last name is Thot), it was all a little too late. Australia’s unwillingness to cast her led her to take time out for self-care and to consider her options, deciding to move overseas mid-workout.
“I remember running on the treadmill in Australia and thinking, ‘You should be running on the treadmill in New York,'” she said.
“I just thought — why am I here? So I was just like, ‘Let me make the executive decision to move to New York’. I’m not getting my coins in Australia.”
Thot remains self-aware about the initial hesitation and rejection she faced when Australian agents pitched her to “six of seven” agencies in the Big Apple. Meaning that the model was fully prepared to work harder to earn her spot on the runways. She saved up for a plane ticket to set-up personal one-on-one meetings with agencies that had passed her up the first time.
“You know, they saw this really, really black girl with a long-ass weave to her butt and legs for days. They were probably like, ‘Oh!’ and didn’t want to sign me,” she recalls to Paper.
But now several years on she is one of the most in demand international models.
Thot was recently cast as the titular Alice in Pirelli’s 2018 calendar edition; an all-black re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, shot by Tim Walker and styled by newly appointed British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. It is just one of the many jobs she is booked for in the next year.
”Now, my whole passport is booked out with stamps on every single page.”