Naomi Campbell broke the mold, and continues to even today. The supermodel hit the industry in the mid-80s, and is still strutting catwalks and covering glossies three decades later. Vogue celebrates Campbell on November’s front cover, and inside, hails her as an iconic model but “a trailblazer, lightning rod, truth-teller, provocateur and—most of all—mentor and mother figure to models the world over,” including recent breakout stars Adut Akech and Ugbad Abdi.
Campbell said: “I never used to say the word racism; I just used to say, it’s territorialism. I never wanted people to say that I used that as an excuse, that I was throwing that word out. Now I’m happy that everyone’s all on the same page, that everyone feels comfortable to come out about their experiences without feeling some stigma. But for me, nothing’s changed. I’m going to speak the same way.”
She’s over the “angry Black woman” trope she said. Campbell told Vogue: “I am quite over it. Is it now that we have permission to speak? Well, I have always spoken.”
She continued, “There were a few things that I would do when I was younger that I was told were bad for my race… Now the things I do are not just for me anymore. I think more of my culture and my race, as opposed to thinking about just me.”
Campbell also shared how her life changed during the pandemic.
“I stopped smoking during quarantine, but a friend of mine killed himself, and it really affected me. I called my guy in Israel—he’s great for sugar and cigarettes and addiction stuff—and we’re going to do a session. He told me to just get through this week first.”
She also said goodbye to her 77-year-old grandmother Ruby, who lived in London. “I just knew I needed to get to her. I was panicked to fly over, but I’m so grateful that I decided to come.”
Campbell said: “A lot of the things Grandma taught me as a child came into play in lockdown. I was quite happy to be on my own. I know how to cook. I know how to clean. It’s actually good to get to really know every nook and cranny of your home. I mean, I have to be really honest.”
Cambell takes a maternal approach to the next generation, like Abdi and the daughter of her pal Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber.
Gerber told Vogue: “Naomi has always championed authentic relationships with designers, editors, photographers, et cetera, and has always encouraged me to do the same.”