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

"The challenge is permanent," Campbell said, adding that the racist encounter has encouraged her to continue speaking out about the need for diversity in fashion

Naomi Campbell
Photo: John Phillips/BFC/Getty

Naomi Campbell is speaking out about a time that she was discriminated against because of her skin color.

The model, 49, recently opened up in an interview with Paris Match, in which she claimed she had personally experienced racism earlier this year while in France for the Cannes Film Festival.

While speaking about diversity in the fashion industry, Campbell alleged that she had been turned away from a hotel, whose name she declined to mention, in May because of her skin color.

“I was recently in a city in the south of France, at the time of the Cannes Film Festival, where I was invited to participate in an event in a hotel whose name I will not mention,” she explained to the French magazine.

“The guy at the entrance pretended that the place was complete,” Campbell continued. “He did not want to let my friend and I in because of the color of my skin … But he let other people pass.”

The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion - Arrivals
Naomi Campbell. Neilson Barnard/Getty

Though, in the moment, she was “shocked,” the model said she was choosing to speak out about the encounter to raise awareness about inequality and the “permanent” challenges that people of color face every day.

“I have always wanted people to be treated fairly. [I] do not believe that it goes without saying. The challenge is permanent,” she shared. “It is [because of] these kinds of shocking moments that I will continue to express myself and make myself heard.”

Campbell, who was the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue, has long been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the fashion industry.

Naomi Campbell
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Early on in her career, Campbell spoke out about racism and being a black model in a predominately white industry.

“Black models are being sidelined by major modeling agencies, it’s a pity that people don’t appreciate black beauty,” the Empire actress told journalists years ago, according to The Guardian.

At the time, Campbell vowed to play a part in changing the fashion industry’s culture for years to come.

“This business is about selling, and blonde and blue-eyed girls are what sells,” she explained. “There is prejudice. It is a problem, and I can’t go along anymore with brushing it under the carpet.”

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And she certainly continued to do so.

Most recently, the model revealed to Vogue that she had been discriminated against by a “certain country” after they refused to use her photo due to her skin color — a moment she said was eye-opening.

“It’s still not balanced completely. I’m the face of a new campaign and I was told that because of the color of my skin, a certain country would not use my picture,” she explained to the outlet in April. “For me, it was a reality check.”

“I never believe in the hype, so it just kept things in perspective for me,” Campbell continued. “We are not a trend, we are here to stay.”

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