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A single shot makes her dream come true

A refugee from Sudan is talent-spotted online, while a Twitter user makes a KFC 'discovery'


One image was all it took to turn the fortunes of 19-year-old student Anok Yai around.

Ms Yai, a Sudanese studying biochemistry, had been enjoying a party held at Howard University in Washington on Oct 22 when she was snapped by photographer Steven Hall (@thesunk) for her eye-catching street style.

Her striking good looks and keen, casual fashion sense went viral on social media. She (@anokyai) self-deprecatingly said the photo made her look like a "deer in the headlights" and described it as "average" at best.

But the masses on the Internet had different ideas.

Her winning looks garnered more than 70,000 likes and comments on both Mr Hall and Ms Yai's accounts. As her image spread wildly across Instagram, Ms Yai eventually found herself gaining more than 100,000 followers.

The serendipity was not lost on Ms Yai, who first arrived in the United States in 2000 as a refugee. Her family was fleeing a genocide.

A photo of student Anok Yai, 19, taken by photographer Steven Hall, went viral on the Internet and got her signed up as a model. Ms Yai first arrived in the United States in 2000 as a refugee from Sudan.
A photo of student Anok Yai, 19, taken by photographer Steven Hall, went viral on the Internet and got her signed up as a model. Ms Yai first arrived in the United States in 2000 as a refugee from Sudan. PHOTO: ANOK YAI/INSTAGRAM

She told Vogue: "I first saw the photo after my phone started getting the notifications."

Her photo also caught the eye of Mr Kyle Hagler, president of Next Management, which has represented the likes of Miranda Kerr and Lana Del Rey. He said: "Anok has something very special. She's not only beautiful, but she's also intelligent and has a real understanding of community."

Ms Yai said she hopes to be an established figure in biochemistry, and wants to encourage young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Women aren't always raised to be as great as they can possibly be. They're told to care more about how they look and be extremely feminine. Science, maths and technology are still considered male jobs," she told Vogue.

Mr Hagler has since signed her up as a model under Next Management - a dream come true for Ms Yai who had always wanted to get into the industry but did not know how.

"I definitely want to be a role model for young dark-skinned girls and girls in general. I want to bring to light ideas of self-love and self-confidence," she said.


On Oct 20, Twitter user Mike Edgette (@edgette22) made a very important observation - the official Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) account follows 11 people.

The people KFC follows are Geri Horner, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie C and Victoria Beckham of the pop group Spice Girls, and five random Twitter users named Herb.

To put it in a clearer context, KFC follows 11 "herbs and spices", a play on its original recipe long viewed as one of the most famous trade secrets in the catering industry.

His tweet - ".@KFC follows 11 people. Those 11 people? 5 Spice Girls and 6 guys named Herb. 11 Herbs & Spices. I need time to process this." - has been retweeted and liked more than a million times.

As a result of his "discovery", some people have dubbed Mr Edgette the "smartest man of the day".

But others have pointed out that another Twitter user - Laurel Bartlettt (@laurelbartlettt) - had made the same discovery several days earlier.


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Mr Edgette defended his actions, saying that he had figured it out on his own without seeing her tweet.

But most importantly, KFC recognised Mr Edgette's sleuthing skills and rewarded him accordingly.

The fried chicken restaurant sent him a letter congratulating him on his feat.

"You were the one who found the obscure message hidden in who I was following on Twitter. I wasn't sure if anyone in the world had the wits, skill and sheer determination to solve this puzzle I created. And you not only solved it, you went, as they say, 'viral' with it. So, from one refined yet still in-touch social media mogul to another: Well done," the message read, signed off by none other than the late KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders.

KFC also sent him a portrait of Mr Edgette piggybacking Colonel Sanders.

"You may not have noticed yet, but attached to this letter is a reasonably sized painting. This is a painting that I painted, with paint. And yet, it's somehow more than that. It's a metaphor. It's a tribute," the letter read.

To which Mr Edgette replied: "Dreams do come true. #GiddyUpColonel"


Celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves is a format popularised by US TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

But one video, posted by Facebook user Kris Bayne, about a very different subject - homelessness - has been garnering rave reviews.

It features homeless people in Canada and the US reading mean tweets about their group.

Here's a sample.

"I hate the homeless. I don't feel sorry for you. If you want change, then let me throw it at you as hard as I can at your dirty face," one message read.

"If home is where the heart is, are homeless people heartless?" read another.

Needless to say, the homeless people featured in the video had strong reactions to the tweets they read out.

Many of them ended up sobbing by the end of the 1 min 15 sec video, which has been viewed more than 12 million times.

It also drew many responses from social media users, who have since raised thousands for the US-based National Coalition for the Homeless and the Canada-based Raising the Roof.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 12, 2017, with the headline 'A single shot makes her dream come true'. Print Edition | Subscribe