Malaika Firth

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Malaika Firth
Firth at the Michael Kors Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show on September 11, 2013 at New York Fashion Week. Photo by Christopher Macsurak.
Born (1994-03-23) 23 March 1994 (age 24)[1]
Mombasa, Kenya
NationalityBritish Kenyan
Modeling information
Height1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in)
Hair colorBlack
Eye colorBrown
  • Marilyn Agency (New York)
  • Oui Management (Paris)
  • Women Management (Milan)
  • Premier Model Management (London)
  • R1 Mgmt (Barcelona)
  • Le Management (Copenhagen, Stockholm)
  • Model Management (Hamburg)
  • Folio Montreal (Montreal)
  • Chic Management (Sydney)
  • DT Model Management (West Hollywood)[2]

Malaika Firth (born 23 March 1994)[1] is a Kenyan-born British model. Firth attracted attention when, in 2013, she was booked as the first black model in nearly 20 years to appear in a Prada advertising campaign.

Early life[edit]

Firth was born in Mombasa, Kenya and brought up in Barking, a suburban town in east London, when she was seven years old.[3] Her family in Kenya belongs to the ethnic group of the Giriama.[4] Her father, Eric, is of British, Seychellois and Ugandan descent, and mother, Jecinta, is half-Kenyan and half-Swiss. Malaika was born in Kenya and lived there until she was seven, when the family moved to Barking, east London. Eric worked as a French polisher at the Four Seasons hotel. When Malaika talks about her family you get a glimpse of her ambition, but also of a rootedness that might save her from her industry’s worst excesses. She says, "I don’t come from a posh or high-class background. We lived in flats in the ghetto, our version of 'the Bronx'. We weren’t poor, but there wasn't a lot of money. I shared a room with my sister and my auntie. I struggled getting by in school, with £2 for my lunch. When the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) came out I was so excited – £20 a month! I appreciate everything that has happened. For me to have this career is life-changing for my family". Home is Kenya or New York – maybe Los Angeles, one day. "Everywhere is home. I am like a gypsy!" she says. She has not been back to Barking since she "blew up" – the family has all moved to Kenya, so there are no ties to east London left. "I only had one or two friends in sixth form anyway. I was bullied a lot at school. People were like – "she’s so shy, she’s so boring, I don’t want to talk to her. But – ha! – now look where I am. I see people's comments on Instagram, talking about how well I am doing. When I think about stuff like that I just think: "Thank you, God".[5]


Firth was encouraged by her mother to try out modeling, after watching an episode of "The Model Agency", which featured a documentary about the Premier Model Management.[6][7] Her mother called up the agency and arranged a meeting with them.[6][7] After attending an open-call casting, Firth was signed on the spot.[8]

Beginning her modeling career at age 17, Firth soon began modeling internationally: She gave her runway-debut at the New York Fashion Week SS2012 for Odilon. She gained attention from the fashion industry after walking in the SS2014 Prada menswear show and starring in the Prada-fall 2013 campaign, which also featured Christy Turlington, Catherine McNeil, Cameron Russell, Freja Beha Erichsen, Fei Fei Sun and Rachel Williams and was shot by Steven Meisel.[7][9][10] With this feat, she became the first Black model in 19 years to score a Prada campaign.[4][11][7] The last Black model to book a Prada campaign was Naomi Campbell for the fall 1994 campaign.[4][11][7]

Meanwhile, Firth experienced her runway-breakthrough with the fashion week for the Spring/Summer 2014 collections, walking more than 40 shows, including shows from Jean Paul Gaultier, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Dolce & Gabbana among others. In November 2013, she debuted at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.[10]

For the Spring/Summer 2014 campaign season, Firth booked campaigns from Valentino, Burberry and Prada for the second-consecutive time.[9][12]

Personal life[edit]

Firth is currently based in London.[8] If it was not for modeling, Firth would have tried out acting.[8] She acted in several amateur productions in Barking local theatre.[13] Her grandmother runs a restaurant in Kenya.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Malaika Firth". FMD.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c "5 Things You Need to Know About Prada's New Face". Huffingtonpost. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Milligan, Lauren (10 August 2011). "Meet Malaika". Conde Nast Publications. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e McCathy, Lauren (9 July 2013). "Model Call: Malaika Firth". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Exclusive interview: Malaika Firth". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Malaika Firth - advertising résumé".
  10. ^ a b "Malaika Firth - fashion show résumé".
  11. ^ a b c "Malaika Firth: Prada's new Naomi Campbell". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  12. ^ Milligan, Lauren (17 December 2013). "Two Vogue Favourites Become Burberry Girls". Conde Nast Publications. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  13. ^ Alexander, Ella (16 July 2013). "Even Prada Muses Get Star-Struck". Conde Nast Publications. Retrieved 9 January 2014.

External links[edit]