Australian model Yaya Deng in Gods of Egypt (2016)
Credit: courtesy Summit Entertainment

She’s the stunning young student who went from winner of The Face to being celebrated as the face of Westfield‘s national advertising campaign, but Sydney-based Yaya Deng’s aspirations are more of the Angelina Jolie kind than Victoria’s Secret. 

While a part in 2014 film Gods of Egypt saw her bitten by the acting bug and accepted via tough audition to the Actors Centre Australia, her real career dreams see her travelling somewhere far less glitzy than Hollywood.

“I have been talking to the United Nations about what I can do to help, maybe as a Youth Ambassador,” said the model, who was born in Nairobi to South Sudanese parents who had fled the genocide in their home country in the early ’90s. At age nine, she moved to Australia with her mother and four siblings.

Westfield ambassador Deng in a recent fashion shoot for GRAZIA styled by Aileen Marr
Credit: Richard Freeman

“I’m Australian now, but imagine going to a completely different country and the girls who are left there and have no choice or opportunities, nothing, we can take the opportunities that we have here. If the UN can help now, they can really help for generations to come.”

Like Academy Award winners like Jolie and Audrey Hepburn who used their fame to attract attention to their humanitarian work, Deng doesn’t see why her two career aspirations  Hollywood and the Hague can’t co-exist.

“I love acting and would love to move to Los Angeles,” the 21-year-old says. “I’ll see how things go for myself. Things don’t just happen overnight, but hopefully it all goes along the right track.”

See Yaya Deng in our Rose on Rouge fashion shoot.

Yaya Deng is currently a Westfield ambassador.