My mother has always instilled in us that we should carry ourselves with dignity despite the horror that came with the civil war. She also taught us that where you come from is very important because that's what makes you who you are. So for me, whatever I've gone through had profoundly shaped me; it has given me strength and unwavering faith.
Beauty is subjective and should not be limited to only what we see on the outside.
I've always loved to paint - I was studying to do an art degree when I was approached to become a model - and I've being doing some design work as well. I also love just having a quiet time, sitting in my little library at home in Brooklyn and reading or watching documentaries or listening to music.
When I was a girl, civil war in Sudan forced me to flee my home town of Wau.
When my friends talk about childhood, I've never heard of any cartoons or TV they remember. The only thing we share is Michael Jackson. That's how far his music travelled - to a remote village on the other side of the world.
Whenever I feel I am going through my own 'little' challenging moment, I just think about my mom.
I think the fashion industry has gotten to a place where it is embarrassing.
The fact that designers like Lagerfeld, Gaultier, Galliano and Dior could believe in Alek made me believe in myself, too.
When I was 10 years old, I fled my homeland amid the bomb blasts of civil war in Sudan.
Leaving southern Sudan as a child was terrifying. It was 1985, and my family and I were trying to escape to Khartoum, the capital in the North, to safety.
When I started modeling, it was like, 'Oh, she's too dark,' and I kind of looked at them like, 'You're too daft.'
True beauty is born through our actions and aspirations and in the kindness we offer to others.
The beauty of reading is that it lets you travel in a way you could never know.
You've got to make yourself happy. I'm a happy person naturally.
My life was filled with family in South Sudan. I am the seventh of nine children, and we grew up in what would be considered a middle-class family. We did not have a lot, but we did have more than a lot of other people.
I used to have nightmares about the civil war when I got to England at ages 14 to 15. It took me some years to get over that.
There are tons of black girls modeling, and each one is special.
I have eight brothers and sisters, so I'd like to have a few children.
If my mother hadn't encouraged me, I would be nervous and feeling like I'm doing something wrong.
I don't understand when people are being greedy or mean, when they say who should get what, when they get control of someone else's life.
I meet and talk to women from every corner of this planet, and I can find beauty in each and every one of them.
In restaurants in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I always ask for a doggie bag to bring the leftovers home.
I grew up in southern Sudan, one of nine children. Our life was simple but very happy.
The day you stop enjoying something is the day you should quit, if you can afford to.
There are people who can look out for other human beings; there are people who can speak up when something is not right and say, 'This is wrong, and something should be done.'
We survived on natural resources, so we should take care of the earth. When I leave home, I do things like switching off the heat and lights.
I had serious psoriasis as a child - it's strange that I make my living off my looks after years of looking like a monster.
I had jobs from the age of 14, when I arrived in London as a refugee. Aged 17, I'd get up at 4 A.M. to work as a cleaner before school. It wasn't pleasant.
I believe we should utilise any power we have for important issues that are bigger and beyond us. Whether it's with refugees or working to educate kids. I don't think you need to have gone through a civil war to do something. I believe as human beings, we can look out for each other.
London is like my second home. I've still got friends there from school and from when I first started in the modelling business - people such as Karen Elson, Jasmine Guinness, Jade Parfitt.
Having arrived in London to seek refuge during the civil war in Sudan, where I was born, the thing I'm most proud of is having totally evolved. I came here not knowing how to speak English, but I went to school and learned; I adapted to this new culture.
When I first started working with World Vision, I would sit down and talk with them about issues that concern any part of the world. MSF told me about what was going on in North Korea. I also support AIDS and breast cancer charities.
Going on safari in South Africa was hardcore but a lot of fun - though my friend Maura was absolutely freaking out about all the bugs in her hair and having to pee in the sand.
Everything has to do with education: If you educate the girls, you educate the family, the community, and society, in general.
When I was 14, I came to school in London. I remember it was very cold, but also having to adjust and become fluent in English.
There are mothers who sew for six months to make a fashion collection - someone's grandmother, someone's sister. We come in and get paid to walk for 10 minutes at the end. Whenever I think about that, I realise it's not about me. I was just the one chosen to represent those women and sell the clothes.
It was the most exciting thing to leave secondary school and go to college, to have that freedom to study whatever I wanted.
I grew up in a small town in Sudan. There weren't many cars, so we did things in the countryside near where we lived.
There was no concept of fashion and catwalk shows where I came from.
All the exhausting aspects of my job are made worthwhile because I get to experience so many different cultures. It makes you really appreciate the memories.
The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don't celebrate those, they can pass you by.