Exclusive: On set with Ajak Deng
Despite a tumultuous upbringing and a series of defining hardships, Ajak Deng is now a woman living her dream. A gorgeous and talented model from the land down under, Deng has graced the cover of i-D, the pages of Vogue, Interview and W as well as walking for stalwarts such as Givenchy and Lanvin. Milk Made had the pleasure of shooting and sitting down with Ajak to discuss her career, the perfect piece of pizza, and how she deals with her haters.
You’ve been able to call several different continents home, but if you had to pick one place to live where would it be?
Well there are a lot of places I want to live, but I’d have to pick a place where I can one day see myself raising children. Paris, that’s probably my favorite city. I’m a huge fan of their public transportation, so much better than the New York subway right? And I would live there for the food. I love croissants and they obviously do it best there.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?
Travel. All of the same day traveling. Having to get on and off the plane then go straight on set and work all day long and then have to fly back out early in the morning. It’s exhausting. You have no chance to freshen up. You haven’t really gotten much sleep, nobody really cares if you get sleep or not. That is the hardest part for me, because you should at least care if we’re well rested. Come on, we are human! This is teamwork, it’s not all about you and it’s not all about me. It’s about the team working together, bringing together the brand. And it’s easier to do that if we’re awake!
So what would you say is the most fun part about being a model?
Being recognized in the street! Hmm no not that, that’s not the most fun part. I’m going to have to say meeting new people every day is my favorite part of the job. I love making new connections and being surrounded by positive people.
You’ve been quoted saying that “As a teenager I always wanted to be a model.” If you had to pick another career, what would it be and why?
Yes and no. When I was younger I wanted to be a model, but when you’re little you want to be a model for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be a model only because I saw Giselle and Naomi and Cindy Crawford and thought, “If only I was that pretty, I need to model!” In high school I thought about being a marine biologist or a doctor. But my main interest outside modeling now would have to be law. I like the law. I’m taking online classes right now to get ready for law school.
Earlier this year you posted a very sassy video on your Instagram of you consuming pizza. We though it was hysterical. What’s the story there?
Well I posted that video because the day before this kid on Instagram was talking shit. He said things like “Oh you’re an anorexic bitch, if you don’t eat you’re going to die of starvation” and blah blah blah, just really senselessly negative comments. And my manager was like “Don’t even bother responding.” But I thought “Oh I’m going to respond in my own way.” I mean I do eat, damn it! I love food! So I thought “I’ll just make little 15 second videos showing them how much I eat, and then nobody can say that I’m starving!”
So what is your idea of the ultimate pizza?
The only pizza for me is Artichoke pizza, but not the Artichoke pizza. It’s the Margherita pizza from Artichoke with the tomato paste all over it with that little bit of fresh basil. I’m actually going there now!
How would you describe your personal style? Do you have a style icon?
My own style is pretty simple. I try to make it chic. I like to keep things light and easy for travel because I have to be able to hop on a plane and go at a moment’s notice. My icons would have to be Beyonce and JLo. They always look flawless. And I don’t want to offend them but I hope I look that good at their age!
In articles written about you, you’ve been referred to as ‘Australia’s Most Successful International Model.’ What does that mean to you?
Honestly I didn’t even know that. I’m speechless! I feel like I’m still climbing my ladder, and I haven’t even climbed the first step yet. So I’m very honored.
Ajak Deng photographed exclusively for Milk Made by Mitchell McLennan
Styling by Paul Bui
Special thanks to Milk Studios.