I met Kenyan born model Yaya Deng at Sydney Fashion Week 2014. She dominated the catwalks and I was blown away by her beauty, confidence and gregarious nature. We have kept in touch and Yaya very kindly agreed to an interview for Mama Stylista readers.
Discovered after entering a model competition for Cosmopolitan magazine when she was 14 Yaya has since become a runner up in first The Face Australia series and her career is going from strength to strength!
Signed to Chic Management Yaya has modelled for Zac Posen, Le Specs, Ae’lkemi, Steven Khalil, Ixiah the Label, by Johnny and Desert Designs to name a few. Yaya will soon be starring in her first film along side A-listers Gerard Butler and Geoffey Rush!
Find out what she loves about Australia, how she got involved in The Face and her thoughts on supermodel icon Naomi Campbell.
Interview with Yaya Deng The Face Australia Star
You were born in Nairobi, when did you arrive in Australia?
I was born in Nairobi Kenya and came to Sydney when I was 9.
How did you adapt to the change in cultures?
It wasn’t very easy to adapt to Australian culture. I was lucky because I already knew how to speak English so the only barrier was the culture shock I encountered when I arrived. I was bullied and isolated at times but kids are always kids therefore it didn’t last for long.
What is the the one thing you love the most about living in Australia?
There are far more opportunities here. When you are in Kenya you learn that education is the only way to success. They plant that seed in your mind. But here you can have success in numerous pathways which makes it easier to be ambitious.
How did you get into modelling?
I started off by winning the NSW round of the cosmopolitan model search. It was in the final round in Melbourne when I met my first Agent.
How did you get involved in the Face?
I started by auditioning online for the show. The first round is online where you answer questions and submit Polaroid pictures. The second round was in person with a panel and a group of girls.
What’s been your favourite challenge so far?
My favourite challenge was the Lingerie challenge on the show. We had to model with a male model and convey a sexual connection. It was my favourite because I was forced to completely step out of my comfort zone. For me that challenge at the time was extremely difficult. However I used my acting skills to get through it. That’s when I realised that I can step out of my comfort zone and perform on demand.
Who have you developed the strongest bond with on The Face?
I have developed a lot of close bonds with the girls. The closest for me would be Melise Williams. Mostly because we had similar personalities and learnt so much from each other.
What was it like to work with supermodel icon Naomi Campbell? Is she as intimidating as she appears on the show?
It was amazing. I looked up to her growing up and she was the sole reason I auditioned for the show. She is really intimidating because you wouldn’t know how to approach her. She is a strong and determined woman therefore she is capable of coming off rough. However she is the sweetest person and just incredibly misunderstood.
Cheyenne seems like a great role model. What have your learnt from working with her?
Cheyenne is a great role model. She has taught me to strive for the best. In order to get the best you need to get all you all you in terms of your performance. From there you can give the client enough to work with.
Describe how the experience has changed you as a model.
The experience has made me want to perform to the best of my ability. I have learnt to be a stronger model and have worked with such amazing people ever since.
Did you think Olivia would be the winner?
From the beginning it was obvious to me that Olivia had a strong chance of winning.
Who’s your favourite model/fashion icon?
It’s very hard to choose just one. However I love love love Naomi and Tyra. I can’t choose between the two.
What’s next for you after The Face?
I’m currently filming Gods Of Egypt which premieres early 2016. I have a few campaigns coming out also. So I truly hope God blesses me with a strong and lasting career in both modelling and acting.
Thank you so much Yaya for a great interview! I will definitely be following your journey and I have no doubt that you will be a great success!