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College student’s viral photo sparks modeling agency attention

Beauty is in the eye of everyone on the internet.

Anok Yai, 19, is about to have her world turned upside down in the best way all because of a viral photo on Instagram.

Yai, who attends Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, was invited to Howard University’s homecoming on Oct. 22 by a friend. There, a photographer, Steven Hall, who runs the Instagram account @theSUNK, asked to take a photo of her at Howard’s Homecoming concert because he was looking to photograph the best-dressed students. Yai agreed and Hall took down her information and Instagram handle.

The photo received over 11,000 likes and hundreds of comments praising the student’s beauty. Yai’s own repost of the picture garnered an additional 29,000 likes. Yai, for most of the day after the picture was posted, had no idea her photo was getting so much love.

“My phone just started vibrating rapidly for a long, long time,” Yai told the Boston Globe. “At first, I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something.”

She told the Globe that three modeling agencies had already reached out and she would consider modeling as a part-time gig while she is in school studying biochemistry.

Anok Yai could soon be a featured model based on her photo, taken by Steven Hall of The SUNK, going viral.


While fashion and modeling were something she’d considered, she didn’t think it would ever happen. Yai even thought she just looked “average” in the photo.

“Honestly, I think that people get so used to seeing themselves that people don’t see their own beauty because they see it every day,” she said.

Many who saw the photo either believed Yai was a model already or wanted to help get her in the business. Photographers and agencies reached out in the SUNK and Yai’s comments.

“If your ever in DC again please dm too shoot..beautiful,” said @s.barleyphotography.

@theycallmedig said: “@thesunk did someone already get to her. I place models with Next worldwide. Check your DM asap.”

Hall himself told the News he plans to work with Yai again to bring “black beauty and expression” further into the mainstream.

Others tagged the Instagram accounts of famous people in the fashion industry like Zac Posen, Tyra Banks, Ford Models, and Vogue Runway.

But not everyone wants Yai to pursue modeling, encouraging her to keep getting her degree.

“@donnaclark6263 She is a beautiful young lady. If I was her I would stay in school, get that degree and be a Biochemist…..Modeling is overrated.”

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