Written by Amir Ridzuan Mohammad.
Standing at a statuesque 5’9”, with sharp features blended on her exotic glowing tanned skin, the Sabahan lass, Atikah Karim is now living the dream of every aspiring model by expanding her modelling career in the vibrant New York. She began modelling at the age of 18 and relocated to New York in 2015.
Atikah, known as Tiks in the industry was discovered when she entered Ford Models Supermodel of the World Malaysia in 2011 and eventually won the competition. She has always wanted to be a model since she was little. She would pose every time her parents or maid took photos of her and that’s how she developed her interest in modelling. Plus, she used to watch videos of Chanel Iman on YouTube and practised her walk. To date, she has been featured in prestigious fashion magazines, modelled for distinguished fashion brands and graced the catwalk on every fashion shows.
Her international career took off in 2015 where she flew to London at her own expense and successfully signed with 3MModels, a London-based modelling agency. Up until now, her relationship with her mother agency is going strong. Among the notable jobs she booked upon arriving London were becoming Miley Cyrus’s dancer during the latter’s concert in Wembley Stadium as well as debuting on runways at London Fashion Week.
Atikah is currently being represented in all four major fashion cities in the world; Soul Artist Management (New York), 3MModels (London), Major Models (Milan) and Metropolitan Management (Paris). Besides that, she is also signed with VIVA Models (Berlin) and Book Management (Montreal). She is now based in New York after realizing that she found more job opportunities in the Big Apple and it’s definitely the best for her blooming career.
Throughout her international career, this 25-year-old stunner has worked with big names such as Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Costume National, Libertine and Vivienne Tam. She made another remarkable achievement when she walked for Kenzo at Spring/Summer 2018 Paris Fashion Week. Besides that, she has also landed a campaign for Milk MakeUp, an American beauty brand. Recently, she booked a campaign for Ted Baker, a house brand in the United Kingdom. Following her international success, Atikah described that people in the western countries appreciate her tanned skin more than in her own country. As a matter of fact, Atikah has a profile on models.com where not many local models are listed there hence it is considered as a big deal.
Atikah divulged that not everything was smooth sailing for her. In order for her to live her American dream, she sacrificed a lot. She first went to London at her own expense and looking for each agency one by one because they preferred face-to-face castings. When she’s abroad, she gets homesick all the time since she is away from her family and friends. Furthermore, she decided to defer her studies because according to her, “it’s now or never”. Well, it seems like her determination and sacrifice paid off as she is now very well-known internationally.
Speaking of any challenges that she experienced throughout her modelling career, she started off with the scenario that’s happening in Malaysia. She found it quite disheartening that when it comes to homegrown fashion labels, Malaysians prefer foreign Caucasian models over local ones. When she started modelling, the local scene did not really appreciate her skin tone as they prefer models with fair skin most of the time. After Atikah established her name in the industry internationally, only then people noticed and booked her for jobs. But then again, Atikah said the industry is more diverse and acceptable now as plus-sized models, models of colour and models with disability are rocking the scene today.
Atikah believes that staying true to herself, being humble and having patience alongside the support from her family and friends is key to success.
Whenever she is being asked if having a tanned skin is a liability, she quickly retorts “It’s an asset.”