Anok Yai, a 19-year-old Plymouth State University student, signed with NEXT Model Management on October 31 after a photo of her went viral on Instagram, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. Both Yai and NEXT posted on Instagram to announce their new partnership.
Yai has begun to model part-time while she finishes her current classes, her older sister, Alim, told the newspaper. She’s currently studying biochemistry and is still interested in becoming a doctor.
NEXT discovered Yai after she was featured on Steve Hall’s “TheSUNK” Instagram page.
The professional photographer saw her at Howard University’s Yardfest event and asked to take a few photos, calling her “stunning.” The two photos have been liked more than 20,000 times, and Hall posted a photo from Yai’s first professional shoot in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Sunday.
For Yai, who dreamed of catwalks and New York City offices as a child, according to the Washington Post, this is a life-changing opportunity.
“Now, I can speak my mind on certain topics and have people that will definitely listen,” she told the Post. “Now, I can use my mind and tell people about colorism and teach girls about self-confidence.”