Alek Wek (born April 16, 1977) is a South Sudanese model.
She was born in Wau in Sudan (now South Sudan), in a two-bedroom house without electricity or running water, and is the seventh of nine children. Her mother Akuol (b. 1946) was a housewife, and her father Athian (1933–1985) was an education official. Her name reportedly means "Black Spotted Cow". She has stated that physically, she resembles her father, who was 6'5" and also had unusually long limbs. She suffered from the skin condition psoriasis from infancy until age 14.
When the civil war broke out in Wau in 1985, the Wek family had to flee from both rebel and government forces. Her father, Athian, once broke his hip in a bicycle accident, and his hip was repaired with metal pins. Long periods of walking caused Athian's hip to get infected, and upon the family's return to Wau, he became paralysed and endured a haemorrhage. He died at a relative's home in Khartoum.
After arriving in London at age 14, her psoriasis immediately cleared, possibly due to the damp climate. She enrolled in London's College of Fashion with a concentration in Fashion Business and Technology.
She was discovered at an outdoor market in 1995 in Crystal Palace, London by a Models 1 scout. She appeared in the music video for "GoldenEye" by Tina Turner that year, and shortly thereafter began fashion modeling. She was signed to Ford Models in 1996 and also appeared in the "Got 'Til It's Gone" music video by Janet Jackson that year. She was named "Model of the Year" in 1997 by MTV, and was the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle that year.
She was in a relationship with Italian real estate developer Riccardo Sala from 2001-2013.
Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Alek walked in one Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Alek walked in Segment 1.