September 29th, 2010
06:18 PM ET
Naomi Campbell may have pushed past barriers in the fashion industry as a woman of color to become one of the most well-known names in the world, let alone the industry, but she still gets skittish when people start to toss around the “role model” label.
“Listen, I make many mistakes. Many mistakes,” she told gallerist Tony Shafrazi in Interview magazine. “I’m not a perfect human being…So I always get nervous when people speak about something that sounds like a role model, because I don’t know if I’ve been a great role model myself. I don’t think I have in certain aspects of my life.”
But, Campbell added, she is “trying to do better.”
The 40-year-old admitted that she does feel a sense of duty to other young women of color who may get passed over in the notoriously homogeneous fashion world. It's a reality that hasn't greatly changed from the time when Campbell herself was coming up in the business in the mid-80s, but she didn’t let that slow her down.
“There are always obstacles in life, and even if I did see obstacles, I never looked at it like, ‘Okay…We can’t achieve what needs to be achieved.’ I’d look at whatever obstacles were in front of me and find the people who could help me overcome them.”
This strategy, she said, led to her first Vogue cover on the French edition of the renowned publication, a gig she may have been the first black woman to receive. “I do feel a responsibility, because I’ve been given so many opportunities, and I’d like to see other girls of color presented with those same opportunities,” she told Shafrazi.
But, Campbell added, she’s also not one to simply wait for someone else to help open a door – especially not at this point in her career, which has been flanked with good and bad press.
“I mean, look, I’m controversial. It’s not that people don’t know who I am…If people want to work with me, then they want to work with me. If they don’t, they don’t. You also have to create your own things…If something doesn’t come your way, then you find another way,” Campbell explained. “I am a woman of color and I will always be proud of that. I know I will always have to go that extra 10 miles. And that’s fine. I’m okay with that.”
Even in light of the dogged coverage of her testimony at a headline-making war crimes trial – one at which she thinks turned into a “complete media circus” for an event that “wasn’t about me” – Campbell says she’s not one to shroud herself in self-defeat.
“I don’t get depressed. When I feel an attack, I withdraw. I disappear, I replenish, and then I come back,” she said. “I’m not going to wallow in self-pity and not live my life. There are always going to be some falls in life for everybody, no matter what career you have. You have to roll with the punches and keep going.”
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.