19-year-old supermodel Adut Akech won big yesterday evening at the 2019 Fashion Awards when she took home the prize for Model of The Year. The awards, which were held in London, recognized some of the biggest tastemakers in the global fashion realm this year. Rihanna also won last night taking home the “Urban Luxe” prize for her LVMH-backed-brand Fenty.

According to the UK publication, Independent, Akech received a standing ovation as she accepted her award last night. The model who became a refugee at 7, used her time on stage to call for greater diversity within the fashion space. “This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work. I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did,” exclaimed Akech. Although the South Sudanese-Australian model is just a teenager she has walked the runway for household names like Valentino, Stella McCartney, and Givenchy.

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 29: Adut Akech walks the runway during the Givenchy Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 29, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

There has been a great discussion on when the fashion industry will expand its arms to accepting more people of color. From industry insiders to designers and models, the industry has had a reputation of only allowing a few black creatives to squeeze through the cracks. Even in 2019, we’re seeing the word “diversity” being used to attract a buzz, while the sincerity behind the inflation is questionable.

As Akech concluded her acceptance speech she reminded the audience of the work that still needs to be done in the fashion industry, “It is important for all of us to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity.” she said.

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