Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell Biography

(1970–)
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Naomi Campbell became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of French 'Vogue' en route to iconic status in the modeling industry.

Who Is Naomi Campbell?

After beginning her modeling career at age 15, Naomi Campbell became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue and the first Black model on the cover of Time. Campbell is also known for appearances on TV series like The Face and Empire and her scrapes with the law.

Early Life and Career

Naomi Campbell was born on May 22, 1970, in London, England. The daughter of a Jamaican-born dancer and an unnamed father, Naomi Campbell attended Dunraven School and the London Academy for Performing Arts as a youngster.

She studied at Italia Conti Academy stage school and appeared in music videos for Bob Marley and Culture Club before signing with Synchro modeling agency at age 15.

Top Supermodel

One of the world's most renowned supermodels, Campbell was the first Black woman to appear on the covers of French and British Vogue and the first Black model to appear on the cover of Time.

While the exquisitely exotic leggy supermodel began her career on the catwalk, she quickly segued to high-profile advertising campaigns for such fashion icons as Ralph Lauren and Francois Nars. Campbell has also posed for more erotic fare, including Playboy magazine and Madonna's Sex book.

Music, Films and Other Endeavors

Following her rise to fame as a model, Campbell pursued acting and music careers, enjoying her greatest success with the latter in Japan. Her singing career peaked with the 1994 hit "Love and Tears." Though her debut album Baby Woman sold over 1 million copies, it was a critical flop.

Around that time, Campbell appeared in several music videos and films, including the Vanilla Ice vehicle Cool as Ice (1991) and the romantic comedy Miami Rhapsody (1995). She also co-authored the novel Swan in 1994 and published a self-titled photo book two years later.

An ambitious businesswoman, Campbell launched a line of fragrances for women in 1999 and the lifestyle-branding and event-planning firm NC Connect in 2002.

Legal Troubles

In 2002, Campbell was involved in a high-profile lawsuit with London's Daily Mirror over the publishing of photos of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. After several appeals, the court ruled in Campbell's favor.

With a reputation for a quick temper, Campbell has been arrested and sued for committing acts of physical violence and verbal abuse. In June 2008, she pleaded guilty to assaulting two police officers during an "air rage" disturbance on a plane at London's Heathrow airport. In January 2007, Campbell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor "reckless assault" for throwing her cell phone at her maid in a dispute over a missing pair of jeans. She spent five days mopping floors at a New York City warehouse, covered the maid's medical expenses and was ordered to attend a two-day anger-management program.

In 2000, she pleaded guilty to a similar attack on an employee in Canada. Her assistant claimed Campbell threw a mobile phone at her and threatened to throw her out of a moving car. Campbell paid the assistant an undisclosed sum and agreed to attend anger management classes.

Reality TV

In 2013, Campbell joined the reality TV craze by developing her own model competition series, The Face. Along with serving as a coach and a producer for the program, Campbell created a version of The Face for the Australian television market. 

Campbell was given the chance to demonstrate her acting skills with a recurring role on the hit American drama Empire, which debuted in 2015. That year she also appeared on the anthology series American Horror Story: Hotel.

Campbell went on to another recurring role in the musical drama Star, beginning in 2017, before returning to reality television as a judge for the fashion competition series The Cut in 2020.

Meanwhile, she launched a YouTube channel, Being Naomi, and continued her work in the modeling industry by becoming the face of the NARS cosmetics Spring 2019 campaign.

Philanthropy and Personal Life

Campbell, who was close with former South African President Nelson Mandela, has been active in promoting the welfare of children in Africa. Through her charity Fashion for Relief, she has raised millions of dollars for victims of catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

She has been linked with such high-profile love interests as Mike Tyson, Robert De Niro, Usher, Flavio Briatore and U2 bassist Adam Clayton.

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