The supermodel gets candid about men, kids and modeling in a new interview with WSJ Magazine

By Katie Intner
October 08, 2019 12:36 PM

Naomi Campbell has been in the modeling industry for over three decades, and has lived a whirlwind life few others ever had. Now, in a new interview, the 49-year-old is opening up about her past struggles and her what her future has in store.

Campbell stars in one of WSJ. Magazine’s three October covers featuring the “Icons of Industry” (including Demi Moore and Disney CEO Bob Iger) and talks about her past drug addiction and the struggles she’s endured as a vanguard of the modeling industry in her accompanying interview.

“I’m a survivor,” Campbell told the magazine. “I don’t have a squeaky-clean life, and I don’t pretend to. I was the first to say that I was an addict, and I’m so grateful to God to be a recovering addict and a recovering alcoholic.”

Because of her own struggles, she’s taken the next generation of models under her wing. “I don’t want models of diversity to have to wait as long as I did [for pay equity],” Campbell explained.

Annemarieke Van Drimmelen for WSJ. Magazine
Annemarieke Van Drimmelen for WSJ. Magazine

And while she doesn’t have kids of her own “yet”, she considers the next generation of models her own kiddies.

“Not yet—I’ll see what the universe brings me. For now, what the universe has delivered is very much in the spirit of a ‘chosen family,'” she said noting model Adut Akech as someone who calls her “Mama.”

Campbell is currently taking things slow in her dating life, and says she always remembers advice she learned when dating her former boyfriend, actor Robert De Niro. “For me, privacy is important to know each other, and I always worry that my job will not allow that,” she said. “But I have ways. I was taught that by Robert De Niro.”

She continues, “Being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. I don’t have time to be bored, and I don’t have time to be lonely.”

RELATED: Naomi Campbell Says She Was Turned Away from a Hotel During Cannes Because of Her Skin Color

These days her inner circle is small, and that’s just the way she wants it. “Traveling has saved my life in a certain way—I keep it very limited to who knows what [I’m doing] and where I’m going,” she says, listing fellow models Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, photographer Steven Meisel, designers Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui and makeup artists Pat McGrath and François Nars as her confidants.

Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty

RELATED: Naomi Campbell Bares It All in Never-Before-Seen Photo from British Vogue Shoot

In the piece, British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful praised the model for her “whirlwind” life.

“If Naomi wasn’t modeling, she could run a small country,” Enninful told WSJ’s Magazine. “She has that thing, like most black people in any industry: You have to fight twice as hard. She’s always been fighting, but now even more.”

One example of that was when she was asked to walk in a show during Paris fashion week in March that was casting all black models. “I can’t say what I’m saying and go the other way. No amount of money will allow me to do that,” she told the magazine. “I had to say, ‘I’m really sorry, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about my integrity at this point of what I have been saying. I’d be a complete hypocrite. I can’t sell out.’”

And her integrity is the reason the model will always be her on boss — no exceptions.

“There’s no point at this stage in my life to just be working for someone else,” Campbell said. “I’ve been asked constantly to do a documentary. People say, ‘We’ll give you a small fee.’ It’s like, you think I’m stupid? I know what my life is. I know that it’s been very colorful. It’s like, I’m going to give it away? No.”

WSJ. Magazine’s October issue out on newsstands Saturday, October 12th.

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