British supermodel and icon, Naomi Campbell was born in Streatham, South London, on May 20, 1970. Both her parents are of Afro-Jamaican heritage, though her father is also partially of Chinese descent. She and her brother were raised alone by their mother Valerie Campbell.
As a teenager, Naomi studied at the London Academy for Performing Arts. Her public appearance in a performance of any kind came in February 1978 when she was cast to appear in the Is This Love? music video with Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley.
Years later as she was walking in the streets of Covent Garden, she was scouted by Beth Boldt, an Elite Model Management (London) scout, who was renowned for having a very selective eye. At the time Naomi was a school girl of only 15 years of age.
“She was radiant”, says Boldt. “I followed her to watch her move. It seemed as though she had legs that go on forever. Then I went up to her and asked her if she would like to be a model. She said, ‘yes’, and the rest is history.”
Since that chance meeting with fate, Naomi Campbell has gone on to conquer the fashion industry in a way that few others could rival. She achieved iconoclastic status around the world with her incomparable physique and electrifying presence.
Of all things remarkable about Naomi Campbell, it is incontestably her unique and dazzling runway style composed of sass, sophistication and panache that ascended her upon the thrown as the greatest catwalk diva of all times !!! Still today after more than twenty years of career and after thousands of fashion shows, Naomi continues to be the sought-after highlight of many designers’ shows.
Once she hits the runway, she commands applause as if she is rising to receive a best actress Oscar. An appearance by Naomi is in designers’ show immediately establishes the designer as a serious player in the international fashion world.
Stephen Meisel was the first star photographer to shoot her, granting her instant supermodel status. Then all the other star photographers followed suit: Patrick DeMarchelier, Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts, Ellen von Unwerth, Mario Testino and Peter Lindbergh.
In the early years of her career, she teamed up with fellow supermodels Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. Together, the three women formed the entity known only as fashion’s “trinity”. Working together as a single unit, the “trinity” sat fire to every runway it hit, made best sellers of every magazine spread and campaign in which the three supermodels appeared.
A Jurassic-sized force in her own right, Naomi became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Vogue. Then, she captured the cover after cover of British Elle. She followed behind the 1960’s supermodel Donyale Luna in becoming the second black woman to land the cover of British Vogue. She then followed Beverly Johnson’s history making achievement in becoming only the second black woman (at that time) to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Naomi is the first black model to appear on the cover of TIME magazine as well.
She has appeared in countless ad campaigns for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Versace, Jazz, François Nars, Louis Vuitton, les Galeries Lafayette, Dolce & Gabbana, Dsquared, Rocawear, H&M, etc.
Naomi is truly a super-superstar. Every month, articles on her life, career, her projects, and about her “beaux du jour” continue to sell magazines and newspapers across the planet. Most recently her bouts with drug abuse and her violent temper seem to be the two subjects that keep her name in the spotlight.
In the past, Naomi Campbell has had high profile feuds with several celebrities.
Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham publicly branded the supermodel as a “massive cow” and a “bitch” in 2000. She too had a falling out with supermodel Heidi Klum in 2003. Though her feud with American supermodel, Tyra Banks, is the most well known of all. The two finally made up in December 2005 on an episode of Banks’s syndicated talk show, The Tyra Banks Show. That episode was a tearful one for Banks. Naomi recognized her many faults towards Banks and apologized. The two hugged and kissed in from of Banks’ audience and exchanged numbers promising to keep in touch. They ended the episode with a catwalk battle!
Over the years, Naomi has amassed wealth estimated at more than $30 million.
Her talents reach far beyond the realm of being a supermodel. She has her name anchored in other interests, talents and creative ventures including singing, restaurants, writing and acting.
She was credited as having co-authored the best-selling novel Swan, with introductions from friends and admirers Iman and Quincy Jones. Later, she acknowledged that the book was written by a ghostwriter, and that she had not written a word of it. She did, however, have published a photo book of her work as a model. It was published under the name, Naomi.
She followed in Cindy Crawford’s groundbreaking steps by posing nude for Playboy magazine. She did a series of lesbian-erotic photos with Madonna in her book Sex. She teamed together with supermodels Elle McPherson, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer to create the short-lived Supermodels Café.
Naomi has had honorable success as a singer. Her album Baby Woman sold over 1 million copies worldwide (mostly in Japan), and she was featured on Vanilla Ice‘s single “Cool as Ice.” In 1995, she teamed up with Toshinobu Kubota. Their collaborative efforts yielded LA LA LA LOVE SONG, which became a hit in Japan, with the single selling approximately 1,856,000 copies.
Naomi has appeared in numerous videos. The first was George Michael‘s music video, “Freedom ’90” along side of the other members of the original “Fab Five” quintet (Christy Turlington, Tatiana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista). She subsequently appeared in other music videos for artists such as Michael Jackson and Jay-Z. In late 2004 she had a high profile romantic relationship with R&B singer Usher.
In acting, she has appeared in numerous movies and television programs as her herself or with a small role alongside international stars, including appearances in films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Steve DiMarco and Spike Lee. She has hit television series such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Absolutely Fabulous” to her acting credits.
Naomi has drawn much international attention to many a worthy cause using the star power of her name alone. In 1996 she was the face of the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer Campaign. Later, she worked with Nelson Mandela children’s fund, Fidel Castro’s Cuban Children’s Fund, joined the Dalai Lama in fund raising efforts through UNESCO to build kindergartens for the poor communities of the world. In 2005, she also spearheaded a celebrity fundraiser and auction during New York’s fashion week to come to the aid of Hurricane Katrina victims.
Naomi’s has been attacked and criticized too for her duplicity on good causes. She posed nude with other supermodels in a PETA campaign to bring attention to the plight of poor animals tortured for the fur industry. Months later, she became a declared enemy of PETA after strolling down the Milanese runway for Fendi in one of the most vulgar fur coats. Her only defense was that PETA has tricked her and that the Fendi coat was not made from any animals on the endangered species list.
True scandal came for the tireless supermodel in February 2001 when the Daily Mirror published photos of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in London. She successfully sued the publication; though the verdict was the issue of several overturning ruling, which finally ended in May 2004 when the Law Lords overturned the Appeal Court’s ruling from October 2002. Even though it concerned drug abuse, this final victory by Naomi is recognized as a landmark victory for celebrities’ right to privacy. This prompted Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan to spew in anger, “This is a very good day for lying, drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media, and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with their Cristal champagne.”
Never one to bow down to adversity, Naomi wiped the dust of scandal from her heels and went on to new achievements. In September 2002, she launched NC Connect, her own lifestyle, branding and events planning company based in New York City. She has also launched her own successful cosmetics and fragrance ranges. She continues to land many high profile advertisement campaigns and to stroll down the high fashion runways, but only for the most deserving of designers.
Cool as Ice (1991), The Night We Never Met (1993), Ready to Wear (1994) (Cameo), Unzipped (1995) (documentary), Miami Rhapsody (1995), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), Catwalk (1996) (documentary), Girl 6 (1996), Invasion of Privacy (1996), An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997), Beautopia (1998) (documentary), Trippin’ (1999), Prisoner of Love (1999), Ali G Indahouse (2002) (Cameo), Fat Slags (2004)
“I don’t always wear underwear. When I’m in the heat, especially, I can’t wear it. Like, if I’m wearing a flower dress, why do I have to wear underwear?”
“I make a lot of money, but I don’t want to talk about that. I work very hard and I’m worth every cent.”
“I never diet. I smoke. I drink now and then. I never work out. I work very hard, and I am worth every cent.”
“The worst was when my skirt fell down to my ankles, but I had on thick tights underneath.”