Malaika Firth (born 23 March 1994) 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.
Firth was born in Mombasa, Kenya and brought up in Barking, a suburban town in east London, when she was seven years old. Her family in Kenya belongs to the ethnic group of the Giriama. 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".