In 1983 when the Southern Sudanese took up arms against the central government due to neglect for many decades, the response from the government was to attack all Southern Sudanese villages and towns, shooting at everything that moves, killing children women or elderly raping young women. This is how Digol Deng was displaced from his home. In 1984 Digol fled to the Northern Sudan in which he struggled to complete High school in Arabic, but when his Big brother was placed in jail due to the quarrel between the government of Sudan and the Southern Sudanese politicians he was able to skip to Egypt with the rest of his family where they were able to gain security and peace and seeking the education, but all that came in the end by Sudanese Government slammed the education opportunities in the face of Southern Sudanese studies and required them to go back to war.
Digol refused to go back and fight against his own people but he didn’t have a choice but seeking for a political asylum in Egypt, but it was denied. Kenya was allowing Southern Sudanese to gain asylum at that moment. Luckily his brother who was in America was able to send him an airplane ticket to Ethiopia and to Kenya. The trip to Kenya was a nightmare and because suddenly the airplane landed in Sudan’s Capital Khartoum the layover took about 20 minutes but those 20 minutes could be dangerous for him. When he arrived in Ethiopia waiting for his flight to Kenya, suddenly he ran to his cousin who was living there for more than six months trying to get to Kenya, so he decided to make a sacrifice and sold his plane ticket so he and his cousin could have food and shelter and go to Kenya together. And that was the beginning of his long journey to America, which included gruesome of two years of poverty and suffering in a refugee camp before coming to America.
This is an EXCLUSIVE Interview with the now Sudanese Male supermodel Digol Deng, only at ADUNAGOW Magazine.
AM: Please tell us more about your name and your origin.
Digol: My real name is Dedgol Gak Deng which means Big Family in my mother’ s native dialect. My family from my father side is a big number; we own the whole village. I have 15 siblings brothers and sisters. My tribe is called Nuer. The Nuers are known in Sudan as the warrior people and are one of the largest tribes in Sudan.
AM: How did you get started in modeling?
Digol: When I first came to Atlanta, I used to work for Marriott hotel and this regular client for Marriott approached me and told me to be careful with those smiles and said: "don’t you think that you could make a great model?" I also got many approaches from the people in public, around the shopping mall, until one day a man handed me his business card and asked me if I could see him in his office; which I did. Two days later I was assigned to work with Keith Sweat, a platinum recording artist. Keith Sweat inspired me by his words and his work.
AM: Was this what you dreamt for when growing up?
Digol: No. My intentions were to become a lawyer and to help with the crisis in Sudan. But that was cut short due to the difficulties at that time. Well, you never know what the future holds.
AM: When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do?
Digol: Reading, writing, watching movies, working out and going to social gatherings.
AM: Currently, where is home? Where are you located presently?
Digol: my home is in Atlanta , GA.
AM: What’s a typical day for you?
Digol: Well, when I wake up in the morning it is always a busy day for me. I check my e-mails, try to finish projects and seek new modeling opportunities, and also practice on my acting skills in case I get my big break.
AM: How do you stay fit in this hectic lifestyle?
Digol: I just go to the gym and work out about 4 times a week, and eat the right foods.
AM: Tell us, how can someone get involved in the Modeling world?
Digol: If you got what it takes to get the job done and meeting the right people, you can make it.
AM: How do you promote and market yourself?
Digol: By finding the right agencies and working with the top designers.
AM: What are the pros and cons of being a male model?
Digol: The pros are meeting the people, networking, and getting a chance to discover new things about others. The cons are when you never get a chance to do anything for your own.
AM: Can you tell us something about you that people would never guess?
Digol: People wouldn’t guess that I am the luckiest man surviving many fights, animal attacks, due to civil war; and I love GOD for that.
AM: Can you tell us about your Sudanese Children’s Foundation?
Digol: I am the founder and the president of the Sudanese Refugee Children’s Foundation. I strongly believe in building the generation to come and tomorrow’s leaders. The Foundation provides educational opportunities for college students such as tuition, textbooks, and provides all school supplies to all grade levels here at home. My biggest mission is to go global to southern Sudan to help those who are in need.
AM: How can someone get involved in the Foundation?
AM: In your opinion, what’s the number one issue to deal with in Africa? What’s your take (solution) on it?
Digol: The number one issue is to deal with internal problems within self and open the doors of opportunities to our richest nations. By using our natural resources to build mother Africa, we can become a supper power.
AM: About Africa: what will you keep? What will you change?
Digol: I would keep the family based system culture. I would take away negative thoughts, poverty, jealousy.
AM: What’s the best food you crave for always when you visit Africa?
Digol: Waal waal, which is a common food in the Nuer tribe that is served with fresh cow’s milk.
AM: What can Africans do in order to create a strong presence in the America media?
Digol: What are we lacking? We need a strong collaboration with American in the terms of business, music, industry, film, Hollywood and the whole nine yards. For the interest of both sides we can do that by using our trade and resources to boot the economy of Africa lacking collaboration.
AM: Do you collaborate with other Africans as well? Tell us a little bit about your recent collaborations?
Digol: Of course. African supermodel Nöella Coursaris and myself hosted the show miss Africa USA Pageant here in Atlanta, GA recently.
AM: What do you see in the future for Africa?
Digol: I see success and wealth in the future because we have a new generation that’s growing up in North America, Europe, Australia and those generations are tomorrow’s workforce and leaders.
AM: Tell us; what is the craziest thing you ever done?
Digol: Walking on Kenyan desert for a day without water or food. My two years in refugee without hope.
AM: Other than Fashion world, what other projects are you involved in at the present?
Digol: I’m Involved in Sudanese crisis, helping to stop the genocide in the Darfur Sudan.
AM: How often do you visit Africa?
Digol: Not much
AM: Can you tell us some places where you’ve been and what is your favorite vacation location?
Digol: American beaches. My favorite spot is Hawaii because of the tropical weather.
AM: Will you consider transitioning completely to acting in the future?
Digol: Of course. That is my biggest dream to appear in major movies. I have already appeared in several movies such as: Drumline , stump the yard, Meet the Browns and various music videos.
AM: In the acting world, who would you want to work with, if you had your choice?
Digol: I would like to have a chance to work with Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie,Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and my African brother Akon.
AM: Any words of wisdom for all our aspiring models out there?
Digol: Well many times, belief makes a person achieves many things that other people consider impossible. But belief is trust and faith without guarantee. You have almost to die to get to your destiny.
AM: Any last words?
Digol: I would like to thank ADUNAGOW Magazine for having me, thanks.
Thank you Digol for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you plenty of success and wisdom in your career.
ADUNAGOW Magazine is an online publication full of exciting African art and culture, information, photographs, celebrities interviews and much more, with the purpose of showcasing the positive contributions of Africans in the world.