A Congolese model is taking Hong Kong’s fashion industry by storm.
Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga arrived in Hong Kong as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011. Unfortunately, Ilunga faced racism on a daily basis while trying to adjust to her new home. But it was those experiences that inspired her to found Harmony HK, a modeling agency for ethnic minorities and models of color.
“You know it’s just like, you’re walking in the train, people pull the kids over, nobody will sit next to you, you know, people staring, pointing finger,” Ilunga told the Associated Press.
As a model, the 22-year-old psychology student at Adventist College, was told by agencies that they preferred white models.
“I decided to just create something of my own, you know, to kind of just give myself an opportunity instead of just going after and begging for something,” she says.
But she hasn’t only created opportunities for herself. Harmony HK has had three fashion shows with models from Burundi, Ghana, the Philippines and India. Ilunga is breaking away from the image-obsessed ethos of the industry. When she casts her models, she asks about their values instead.
While there is much work to be done, Hong Kong is now embracing conversations about diversity and inclusion. Ilunga credits the Black Lives Matter movement.
“People are more willingly open-minded to work with Black models, I would say compared to four or five years ago before this Black Lives Matter movement,” Ilunga says.
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