Born in South Sudan, Mari Malek is known internationally for being an in-demand model, above anything else. And yet she is also successful at creating good music under the pseudonym of DJ Stiletto – in New York’s clubs as well as in Vienna on Vogue Fashion’s Night Out.
Three things you should know about Mari Malek aka DJ Stiletto:
- She grew up as the daughter of the finance minister of the time with around 20 (half-) siblings in South Sudan. When the situation there rapidly deteriorated as a result of the civil war, her mother left the country with Mari and two other daughters for an Egyptian refugee camp. From there, they emigrated to the USA. Poverty, school, numerous part-time jobs, degree, mother at 20 – that was Mari’s early life. It was in New York that she finally made her breakthrough as a model. She has already worked for Lanvin and Vogue, and as a DJ she has turned her hobby into a career.
- Unlike some other models, Mari Malek has always been true to herself. When the pressure to adapt became too much for her, she left her agency. Definitely the right decision: ever since her Lanvin campaign, which followed immediately afterwards, Malek has not been booked despite of, but precisely because of her unique style. “Just truly be you and it will happen!” That’s certainly been the case for Mari Malek.
- Mari Malek has never forgotten her roots. She uses modelling and DJing to draw attention to the situation in Sudan. For the main part, she puts the bloody conflicts in her homeland down to a lack of education. Only 20 per cent of the population can read and write – only one per cent of whom are women. As a result, she has set herself the target of improving access to education in South Sudan with her charity Stand For Education.