The modeling industry is often considered a youth-based profession, with many models between the ages of 16-21 getting the most attention for their youth and beauty. However, this young demographic often means older models are relegated to managerial positions behind the scenes; an industrial stereotype fashion model and influencer Dawn Leak aims to change as she cements her position in front of the camera, strutting the runway at 55 years young.
Born in Harlem but growing up in the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop and graffiti, Dawn Leak had always had a passion for the arts and was inspired by her father, who, before his demise, was a poet, painter and sculptor, bringing her unique life experiences into the fashion industry. “My father was my true cheerleader, and though we only had a short time together before his untimely death, he always encouraged me to have the confidence, as he did, to live my dreams. As a result, he ignited my love for fashion, writing and entrepreneurship,” she says.
In pursuit of her passion, the trailblazing fashionpreneur journeyed to Europe, making her first stop at the fashion capital of the world, Paris. However, being in the capital of fashion and luxury was no guarantee for success as she faced lots of rejection, but that did not deter her. The go-getter did not travel over 4,000 miles to give up on her dreams. Instead, she put her ego aside and soldiered on in the pursuit of becoming a working model. Finally, Elite Paris signed her, which was a domino effect from then on.
Dawn soon became a popular name in the Paris fashion industry as word spread. She graced the catwalks and showrooms of Haute fashion houses such as Yves St. Laurent, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, Paco Rabanne, Azzedine Alaia and John Galliano, and appeared in reputable fashion magazines including German Elle, German Max, Vogue, and Italian Amica, going on to become the face of Absolut Vodka Africa.
In addition to being a renowned fashion enthusiast, Dawn Leak has also tapped into her creative aspect as a writer and entrepreneur. She created her lipstick line called “Dawn Lip Candy” and authored two award-winning psychological thrillers, “No Rhyme…No Reason” and “The Blattaria Mind.” Many applaud her work of fiction for its sheer brilliance, and she even won the Bronze Remi Award for “No Rhyme…No Reason” at the Houston International Film Festival.
According to Dawn, no goal is too hard to attain and no dream without determination. In an interview, she shared what it means to be older in a youth-driven industry. “At 55 years young, I find it hard being a model, but I haven’t let that deter me. At any age, a model’s life is not all sunshine and roses. Success is rare, and failure is very personal. The days are long, the waiting is endless, and the travel is exhausting. And the key to survival is to learn how to be mentally strong enough to handle the disappointments which are sure to come. I’ve been fortunate to survive as a model for decades by having a mindset of determination and strength.”
As an individual who has fulfilled her dreams of becoming a top model, entrepreneur, and author, Dawn Leak is a living example of having beauty and brains and holding yourself with immense grace. She advises everyone to take a chance that may supersede any hardships towards actualizing their purpose. “Your love for anything should outweigh your fears. You should try to be fearless to think outside the box…the Norm,” she says.
In the coming years, Dawn Leak aims to position her brand as an influencer for more life-changing opportunities. “I see myself evolving into a fierce businesswoman having her makeup and clothing line on QVC. So, the answer to that question, “where do I see myself in a few years?” –more fearless and fierce!” she says.