Nyajuok in Golden Trance

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Photography, Styling, Direction + Set Tenneal McNair

Makeup — Ashley Tolani 

Model Nyajuok Deng

I had a dreamy experience shooting with Washington DC-based model Nyajuok Deng, who is also a Howard University Law student, this past week. Armored with the most beautiful deep skin I've ever seen, Nyajuok is reminiscent of my all-time favorite model Alek Wek. As a teenager, Alek Wek was the first high fashion model of a dark deep skin-tone. Finally, this type of beauty was given its place in the sun, there to show others of the same complexion that their beauty was just that — beautiful! So you can imagine my excitement when getting the chance to work with Nyajuok.

An air of regality, calm, and grace filled the space when we began shooting. I think a great level of awareness of not just her beauty, but also of her body and the day's duty aided her as I snapped both film shots and digital between looks. Other darkskin women will understand me when I say that it's both thrilling and a relief to know that our type of melanated beauty is coming into it's our own. Because of women like Alek Wek, and now Nyajuok among many others, we are regularly reminded that we don't need validation from others. Instead, we need to confidently embrace our own regality, calm, and grace in the face of monotone beauty standards that mean very little to most.

See some of my favorite shots of Nyajuok below:

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