'An inspiration': Five-year-old Willenhall model signed up Primark

By Thomas Parkes | Willenhall | News | Published:

“I wanted to teach him that how he looks is remarkable and he should celebrate it and that’s the message – being different is wonderful.”

Elijah, who is five and a half, is modelling for clothing giant Primark

A boy from Willenhall, aged five and a half, with a brilliant white afro has taken the modelling world by storm – after landing a contract with Primark.

Elijah was born with albinism – a condition where the person’s skin and hair colour becomes white or light blonde.

The youngster’s condition means that although he is mixed-race, of British and Nigerian descent, he has light skin and white hair.


His mother, Lucy Dawes, said the County Bridge Primary School pupil was an ‘inspiration’ for people with the condition.

She said: “I’m a little bit on the fence about it.

“It’s something I’ve never been involved in.

Elijah pictured in That Kinder Magazine


“It was just that growing up he had such a unique look and people always say to their kids they should model, but it’s something I’ve not thought of.

“Ever since he was born, everybody stares at him and whispers about him – they might think they’ve never seen a child like that and it’s quite new.

“Every single day 20 people have to comment or touch him and he’s not that kind of child.

“He doesn’t want the attention. You have to think about that detrimental effect and it does always worry me when people say ‘look at that little boy’ and point.


Elijah is a student at County Bridge Primary School

“It was having an effect and we were in the Mander Centre at the time and again, we had a few people take notice and he turned to me and said ‘mummy, why does everybody look at me? Why can’t I be like my brother and sister?’

“I said he was very special and people wanted to look at him. When he’s grown up he will like the attention and when people are taking notice, if you’ve something to say they will listen.

“I said you just need to work on your message.

Elijah's photo inside Primark

“Some people had talked about modelling and I wanted to to turn it into something positive.

“I wanted to teach him that how he looks is remarkable and he should celebrate it and that’s the message – being different is wonderful.”

School comes first

The youngster’s fledgling modelling career started after a photograph was shared on the Black Country Vegans group, which showed him making cinnamon buns in the kitchen.

The 40-year-old said Elijah’s modelling career happened in a ‘weird’ way.

She said: “I’m part of Black Country Vegans and they had a picture of him making some cinnamon buns and someone suggested modelling. She pointed me to a Facebook group about modelling and on there is a list of agents.

Elijah's photo inside Primark

“Another member told me to try one and at the end of the day, they said they loved him and so he signed up with them in August 2017.

“A lot of the castings are on school days and it’s hard for us because it’s so London-centric.

“I’m not prepared for him to miss school. We mainly go on school holidays.

“He’s had quite a few other modelling jobs which have seen him travel and shoot with photographers all over.”

Across the country

Giant pictures of Elijah, who is now part of Zebedee management, featured in Primark stores across the country – after being hand-picked by the fashion company.

His mother said: “He got the Primark job and he’s done a few things for Stella McCartney, too.

“We did it for confidence and it’s made a big difference. He is not afraid of people anymore. He has really come out of himself.

“He got the Primark job through his agency. They look at photographs and he was cast from there. You’re shortlisted and you get confirmation and then we went and did it.

“We went down to London for a shoot and it appeared in the store around November and December.

“You could tell he feels proud and I say there’s not many people from Willenhall who can do things he is doing. It’s great life experience.

“People have approached us through Instagram and we’re going to go to London to do a fashion show.

“My husband has albinism.

“There was a few questions from Elijah over identity and we found out that he will probably never drive a car because of his sight.

“I said the universe wants you exactly what it wants you to be.

“In terms of Elijah, he’s a pain in the bum just like any other child.”

Wolverhampton teenager Kaiden Williams, 13, who has the skin condition vitilgo is appearing on gigantic posters for the clothing brand.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at

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