Duckie Thot always wanted to pursue a career in modeling but had trouble breaking into the business even after being featured on Season 8 of Australia’s Next Top Model in 2013 as a 17-year-old. After moving to New York City in the summer of 2016, she finally made her runway debut in the Yeezy Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear show, and since then her career has taken off. Thot was the face of Fenty Beauty, a global ambassador for L’Oreal Paris and is now a SI Swimsuit rookie. Off the runway, Thot — who is of South Sudanese descent— is a big advocate for diversity, inclusion and representation within the fashion industry. We caught up with Thot to find out more about her first SI Swimsuit photo shoot and her plans for the future.
What does it mean to you to be named an SI Swimsuit rookie?
“Growing up, I have always loved the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. For years, seeing beautiful, talented and empowering women in their magazines motivated and inspired me. But being born in Australia and watching from afar, working with SI Swimsuit seemed out of reach. That makes this moment that much more special, and I am honored that SI would want to have me in their SI Swimsuit family.”
What’s been the best part of the experience so far?
“So far, the best part has been working with the team in Montenegro—it was an absolute dream. Even though our time there was short, the location was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Sometimes shooting on set with a large crew can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re filming alone but the entire team was highly supportive, which calmed my nerves. I’ll never forget that. Immediately, they made me feel comfortable during this experience that I had dreamed about for years.”
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How will this experience impact your advocacy for diversity, inclusion and representation within the fashion industry?
“Being a minority in any line of work should encourage people to create space for others that reflect their ethnic backgrounds. I’m South Sudanese born and raised in Australia; this moment is rare for people like me. I’m grateful to represent both my home countries and represent Africa on a global scale. With my rookie status, I’m hoping to inspire young girls who look like me to see and know there is space for them, too.”
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
“In the past few years, fashion has changed. I’m fortunate to work in a time where boundaries and rules are changing. Yes, the faces of fashion have changed, but I’d like to see more diversity and inclusivity behind the scenes, including hairstylists, makeup artists, film crew and lighting teams. I believe I am working to make this happen by using my voice and platforms to open these discussions.”
What advice would you give to young women?
“Don’t shy away from your dreams and aspirations; chase them! The journey is not always going to be a straight path or easy. There will be many highs and many lows, but do not underestimate what being your own biggest supporter and advocate can achieve. No matter your dreams and goals, life will always be full of surprises; do yourself a favor and be encouraged by the challenges.”
What goals do you have career-wise?
“As long as I’m working in the industry, I’ll always want a career in modeling. However, during the pandemic, I had spare time to explore other creative works. It is exciting to have a platform where I can expand my interests. For the time being, I have not fully defined which path I will take, but I hope it will be the entrepreneurial route.”