MTV Base Meets Alek Wek with MTN premiered on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) on Wednesday 15 August 2012 and terrestrial stations across the continent, including STV (Nigeria), Spectrum TV (Cameroon), Viasat (Ghana), Rwanda TV (Rwanda), Swazi TV (Swaziland), Muvi TV (Zambia) and NTV (Uganda).
Elle magazine took a leap of faith when they first featured a dark-skinned, Sudanese model on the cover of their November 1997 issue. However, the result was a phenomenon with thousands of readers writing letters of support, thrilled to see different standards of beauty in the fashion industry. US talk show host Oprah Winfrey later commented to Alek on her show, "If you'd been on the cover of a magazine when I was growing up, I would have had a different concept of who I was."
Born in Wau, in southern Sudan, Alek was raised as a part of the Dinka tribe. At fourteen, she was forced to flee to London to escape the civil war. By chance, Alek was discovered by a top model agent on a London street, and she quickly rose to the top of the modelling industry. She was named "Model of the Decade" by i-D magazine; one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" and as one of the "50 Most Influential Faces in Fashion". New York magazine also named her one of the "50 Most Beautiful New Yorkers".
Alek's influence transcends the world of fashion and challenges the traditional concepts of beauty. She has spoken at the International Black Caucus Foreign Affairs as a member of a panel, which included Hilary Clinton, Congressman Daniel Payne, Danny Glover and many other distinguished speakers. She also serves on the advisory board for the UNHCR, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She speaks at schools in NY to bring attention to the famine in Southern Sudan and to educate children on the importance of nourishment. She has also launched the Bracelet of Life campaign in conjunction with Medicins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders. Alek also works closely with AIDS awareness benefits, children's charities, and breast cancer research.
Alek has featured in numerous high profile advertising campaigns including, Clinique Happy, Ralph Lauren, Jean Paul Gautier, Banana Republic, Joop, Nars, Issey Miyake, Moschino, the Gap, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors and MAC Cosmetics. Alek also appeared in Coach's "Most Influential People" campaign and worked with De Beers to promote the company's new ethical diamond brand.
Alek remains one of the most iconic catwalk faces and regularly models for Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Christian Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Jean Paul Gautier, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Helmut Lang.