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19-Year-Old College Student from Viral Homecoming Photo Is Now a Bonafide Model

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Sometimes all it takes is one moment to change your whole life. College student Anok Yai is definitely a testament of that. This past homecoming season for HBCUs was her shining moment when event photographer, Steven Hall, snapped a photo of her while on the yard at Howard University. The photo went viral and the rest is history.

Now, the stunning Yai is the proud recipient of a modeling contract with a major agency.

This week, Yai signed with Next Management. This followed the massive attention the Plymouth State University student’s photo received on social media. She crossed paths with photographer Hall who captured her after being captivated by her beautiful dark ebony skin.

Saw her right at the end of Yardfest. Stunning @anokyai #huhc #huhomecoming #theyard #fro #curlyhair #darkskin #sudanese

A post shared by TheSUNK|The Shit U Need 2 Know (@thesunk) on


The South Sudanese vision shared her thoughts on the response she’s received from the now-viral photo in an exclusive interview with The Boston Globe. “My phone just started vibrating rapidly for a long, long time,” Yai told them. “At first, I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something.”

Yai had always dreamed of becoming a model, but never thought that it would actually happen to her in real life. “It was a dream that I always wanted, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen,” she said.

After the photo blew up, a handful of agencies came knocking on Yai’s door, but Next Management would ultimately prove to be the one she answered to.

The beauty is still very much a student of biochemistry at Plymouth State, but will definitely be getting her feet wet with modeling gigs here and there whenever her schedule allows.


Photo Credit: Steve Hall/TheSUNK

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.