BUFFALO, N.Y. — Anyiang Yak was in the Walden Galleria, like many teens, but she was noticed for her looks.
"I got scouted in a mall," she said. The person told her, "You should do this like modeling thing, and I was like 'OK.' "
Yak entered a competition and won, and for over a year it's been posing and walking the runway.
At 16 she signed with an agent. Her first job was a campaign for Prada.
"When I see myself in ads, it's like, 'Oh, that's cool,' " she said with a smile during an interview with Channel 2's Claudine Ewing for commUNITY.
Yak was a student at City Honors School in Buffalo. She didn't tell her classmates.
"I was embarrassed, people don't need to know about that," she said. "I feel like a bragger if I tell anyone about it, and I don't like that feeling, but if they find it, they find it."
She has south Sudanese roots and was born in Toronto, but raised in Buffalo, New York.
She can't be ignored. Her face is almost everywhere on magazines and ad campaigns for stores.
She graduated from City Honors in June of 2022 and delivered the superintendent's address.
City Honors principal William Kresse said: "We are so proud of her. Her success at modeling is just one more dimension that makes our school and city proud of her."
She will attend college in 2023 and plans to focus on law.
While modeling she had a platform, "My platform is to be used for climate activism, to help combat climate change in the community and to help everyone who is effected by climate change."
When asked why that topic is important to her, she said, "Every single person in this world in some way, shape, or form is affected by it, and it's also exacerbated by race and poverty levels and socio economic levels."
Yak knows her look is uniquely beautiful.
"I'm really glad that modeling has kind of moved forward in a way that it's not just a carbon copy," she said. "Every time I see a model, everyone looks so distinct and different when it comes to size, height, and shape and skin tone. It makes you realize beauty is not a monotonous thing, there are so many definitions and so many things that people find beautiful."