If you don’t know Yaya Deng, prepare to see a lot more of her. The Kenyan-born Australian model has just landed her first major campaign, joining Delta Goodrem as one of Westfield’s A/W 16 Style Ambassadors. Deng’s career launched after appearing on The Face Australia and she has since signed with Chic Management and worked with some of Australia’s best designers (as well as landing a small role in Gods of Egypt alongside Gerard Butler).
It’s been a big year for Deng and we can’t wait to see more of her. Keep scrolling to read about her signature styling trick, game-changing fashion moment, and who she loves to follow on Instagram
Who What Wear Australia: What makes you most excited about working with Westfield?
Yaya Deng: I’m so excited because Westfield is such an iconic brand—plus, it’s my first national Australian campaign. It’s really beautiful because the focus is on owning your story, your history, and who you are. Plus, I get to work with amazing designers all over Australia!
WWW: What has been your game-changing fashion moment?
YD: I would say working with Westfield on this campaign. I’m honoured to share my story, and work with great designers. I think this will be a great launching pad for my career and set in stone what I’ve achieved so far.
WWW: What are your career plans for 2016?
YD: I want to continue modelling and focus on a bit more on my acting. I’ve just started with Actors Centre Australia, so I want to polish my skills a bit more continue training in that area.
WWW: What Instagram accounts do you follow for style inspiration?
YD: I follow a lot of my fellow models, they all have the best style! I get inspiration for what to wear to castings. And I follow a lot of Australian brands as well, to look at what’s new and keep up to date with the industry.
WWW: What are your favourite Australian fashion labels?
YD: Sass & Bide—I love the bold designs and the beautiful colours. Camilla is another favourite—I love anything boho chic. And Dion Lee, obviously, for when I want something a little more structured.
YD: Adding heels! I’m always running between castings (and wearing flats) so I keep a pair of heels on me to throw on and look more polished and change up my look.
WWW: Who do you look up to?
YD: Australia has SO many models to look up to. I look up to Cheyenne Tozzi, because she does a lot of work locally. I also love Nicole Trunfio and how Miranda Kerr’s career has developed. But really, it’s so hard to narrow it down, we have so many incredible models here.
WWW: How has your personal style evolved over the years?
YD: Through my work, I’m exposed to so many new designs and designers, so I’ve learnt what suits my body type. I get to try on different clothes that I probably would’ve never tried on before, things that actually suit my body better so I’ve learnt more about my body.
WWW: What would be your best piece of advice for aspiring models?
YD: Work REALLY hard. Work on your body, but being healthy is the number one goal. That’s very important in this industry, and knowing not to take everything personally. I think a lot people get into this industry thinking it’s all about how you look, but everyone has a different vision—designers want certain looks for certain campaigns, shows, look books—as long as you work hard, stay healthy and true to yourself, then that is my best advice. You have to stay hungry and success will follow.
WWW: Is modelling harder than what you anticipated it would be?
YD: Very hard, very, very hard. That’s what’s shocked me the most, but there are amazing opportunities to be had. I never in my wildest dreams, thought I’d have these opportunities that modelling has brought me—especially working with Westfield. I’m really grateful.