News, Culture & Society

Supermodel Adut Akech says Who Magazine was hoping she wouldn’t notice print mistake

An Australian supermodel whose interview was featured in a magazine alongside a picture of another model wasn’t told about the blunder until days after it went to print.

South Sudan-born model Adut Akech was interviewed by Who Magazine and discussed the issue of race, and how people view refugees. 

The magazine has since been criticised after Akech released a statement revealing her interview had been marred by an administrative error which saw fellow model Flavia Lazarus pictured instead of her.

Akech only found out about the mix-up on Sunday, 72 hours after the mistake made it to print on Thursday morning.

 

South Sudan-born model Adut Akech (pictured) was interviewed by the Who Magazine and discussed the issue of race, and how people view refugees

The Who Magazine spread claimed the model pictured above - who is actually Flavia Lazarus - was Akech

The Who Magazine spread claimed the model pictured above – who is actually Flavia Lazarus – was Akech

Akech also features on the prestigious September edition of Vogue Australia (pictured above)

Akech also features on the prestigious September edition of Vogue Australia (pictured above)

A representative for the magazine contacted Akech to formally apologise, but the 19-year-old told The Age the apology should have come directly from the editor.

‘I think they were kind of hoping nobody would notice,’ she said. 

‘When I found out three days ago, I was angry, I was pissed, hurt, you know, a lot of things. I think I have calmed down now.’

Akech has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Valentino. 

She also recently featured on the prestigious September cover of British Vogue, guest edited by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Now she has set her sights on tackling stigma in the industry head on, and hopes the incident will shed light on unintentional racism, particularly within the Australian industry.

Akech has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Valentino

Akech has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Valentino

Strong women: Akech (top left) was one of 14 women who appeared on the cover of British Vogue's prestigious September edition, guest edited by Meghan Markle

Strong women: Akech (top left) was one of 14 women who appeared on the cover of British Vogue’s prestigious September edition, guest edited by Meghan Markle

She previously claimed the mix-up wouldn’t have happened if there were white models involved, and that it disrespects her entire race. 

‘We all look different… I honestly don’t understand why it keeps happening… it needs to stop because it’s insulting, it’s disrespectful, it’s rude and [it suggests] that we’re being treated differently.

‘I’ve never heard another white girl being called [incorrectly] but it’s happened a lot to me and other dark-skinned girls. It’s just ignorant. It is racist, in a way. If you’re going to do it, at least do it to everyone.’  

The 19-year-old said the blunder was almost ironic considering the context of the interview, where she hoped to shed a light on racism and ‘change the way people view refugees.’ 

Instead, her quotes were featured alongside pictures of fellow African model Flavia Lazarus.  

While the magazine has since apologised to both models, Akech told The Daily Telegraph the apology wouldn’t undo the  hurt and embarrassment. 

‘It is racist but obviously I know it was not intentional. It was a mistake that wasn’t supposed to happen,’ she said.  

Model Flavia Lazarus was actually pictured

Supermodel Adut Akech spoke of her disappointment about the blunder

Model Flavia Lazarus (left) was published in the magazine when they meant to share pictures of Adut Akech (right) who they interviewed 

Lazarus said the incident brought her to tears.

‘We don’t have the same head shape, we don’t look the same except that we have the same skin colour and a shaved head,’ she said.

‘I feel bad for Akech. She has worked her butt off and it makes you feel invisible.’   

WHO IS ADUT AKECH? 

Adut Akech is a 19-year-old supermodel who grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya before moving to Adelaide with her family.

She was initially scouted by modeling agencies as a 13-year-old, but didn’t start her career until she was 16, when she joined prestigious Chadwick Models in Australia.

From there her career skyrocketed. 

She has worked alongside some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Saint Laurent, Valentino, Calvin Klein and Tom Ford. 

She is now the ambassador for the 2019 Melbourne Fashion Week. 

A statement attributed to a Who Magazine spokesman claimed the incident was an unfortunate misunderstanding and wasn’t meant to offend. 

The City of Melbourne Council’s PR agency OPR is believed to have made a mistake in sending files through to Who Magazine which resulted in the mix up.

When organising the interview, they reportedly sent a file containing images of Lazarus, rather than Akech.   

‘Unfortunately the agency that set up our interview with Adut Akech supplied us with the wrong photograph to accompany the piece,’ a spokesman for Who Magazine said.

‘Who spoke directly with Adut to explain how the error occurred and have sincerely apologised.

‘We also apologise to Flavia Lazarus for the misprint.’

The magazine also said they hoped the mistake would help create a discussion about diversity.

‘Hopefully the result of our misprint will be more people talking about this issue in the industry and tackling it head-on.’ 

The 19-year-old global sensation said the mix up defeated the purpose of her sharing her story at all (Pictured: Adut Akech at the David Jones Spring Summer 2018 Collections Launch)

The 19-year-old global sensation said the mix up defeated the purpose of her sharing her story at all (Pictured: Adut Akech at the David Jones Spring Summer 2018 Collections Launch) 

While in town for Melbourne Fashion Week, Akech made time to chat with Who Magazine about what she’d been up to of late and used the opportunity to discuss diversity and acceptance in the industry.

‘I want to change the way people view refugees,’ she was quoted as saying in the feature. 

She spoke of issues close to her heart, having been born in South Sudan and raised in a Kenyan refugee camp before she and her family moved to Adelaide, which she said made the mix up all the more hard to handle.

‘This has upset me, this has made me angry… to me this is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstance.’

She said this was not the first time a mix up of this sort had occurred, citing an incident where she was called by the name of another model of the same ethnicity. 

‘To people within the industry, this is not okay and you need to do better,’ she said. 

‘Australia, you’ve got a lot of work to do. You’ve got to do better.’ 

Akech said she hopes her experience will generate a conversation and encourage diversity and better understanding. 

Melbourne Fashion Week released the above statement on their Instagram account

Melbourne Fashion Week released the above statement on their Instagram account

Kerri-Anne Kennerley was one person who defended Who Magazine for the mix up, claiming she too has been confused for other white celebrities.

She said on Studio 10 on Tuesday that it was a simple mistake and had nothing to do with racism.  

‘I just think she’s [Akech] taking this way too far, if she thinks it’s all about racism … somebody just made a mistake,’ she said.

Kennerley admitted that while the error could be seen as a ‘big mistake’ – she had been mistaken for 60 Minutes journalist Liz Hayes on several occasions in different magazines.

Akech said she hopes her experience will generate a conversation and encourage diversity and better understanding.

Akech has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Valentino

Akech has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Valentino

ADUT AKECH’S FULL STATEMENT 

‘I’ve have given some deep thoughts the past few days on how to approach this situation that isn’t sitting well with me.

‘For those who are not aware, last week

‘Who Magazine (Australia) published a feature article about me. In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to colour in general. 

‘With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl.

‘This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. 

‘Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue. 

‘Whoever did this clearly the thought that was me in that picture and that’s not okay. This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview. 

‘By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrow-minded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same.

‘I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model. My aim for this post is not to bash Who Magazine -they have apologised to me directly – but I feel like I need to express publicly how I feel. 

‘This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop. 

‘I’ve been called by the name of another models who happens to be of the same ethnicity, I find it very ignorant, rude and disrespectful towards both of us simply because we know that this doesn’t happen with white models. 

‘I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better. 

‘Big publications need to make sure that they fact check things before publishing them especially when its real stories and interviews and not just some made up rumors. 

‘To those who work at shows and shoots it’s important that you don’t mix up models names. 

‘Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.