Childhood & Early Life
Naomi Elaine Campbell was born on 22 May 1970 in Streatham, London, England to Jamaican-born dancer Valerie Morris. Her father had abandoned her mother when she was pregnant. Later on, her mother married another man and Naomi eventually took her stepfather’s surname ‘Campbell’. In 1985, her half-brother, Pierre was born.
During her early years, Naomi Campbell resided in Rome, where her mother worked as a dancer. Following their return to London, Campbell was left with her relatives while her mother toured across Europe with her dance troupe called Fantastica.
From age of three, she studied at the Barbara Speake Stage School. When she was ten, Campbell enrolled at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.
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Naomi Campbell made her first public appearance in 1978, at the age of seven, when she appeared in a music video for Bob Marley's song "Is This Love". At the age of 12, she was featured in Culture Club's music video for "I'll Tumble 4 Ya".
In 1986, while still a student of Italia Conti Academy, she caught the attention of the head of the Synchro Model Agency, Beth Boldt, while window-shopping in a district mall. She was offered a deal and soon her career took off. Just before her 16th birthday, Campbell was featured on the cover of ‘British Elle.’
Over the next few years, her career progressed gradually as she walked the ramp for the designers Azzedine Alaïa, Isaac Mizrahi, and Gianni Versace and posed for photographers like Peter Lindbergh and Bruce Weber.
In the late 1980s, Campbell, along with Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, formed the trio "Trinity". The girls went on to become the most in-demand and popular models of their generation.
In December 1987, Campbell graced the cover of ‘British Vogue,’ as the publication's first black cover model since 1966. In August 1988, she became the first black cover girl of ‘French Vogue.’ The following year, she was featured on the cover of ‘American Vogue.’
She appeared in George Michael's music video for "Freedom! '90" in 1990. By then, she and her fellow models Turlington, Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Evangelista had formed an elite group of models that went on to be declared "supermodels" by the fashion industry.
She appeared as Michael Jackson's love interest in a music video for the song "In the Closet" in 1992. The same year, she posed with other top models for the 100th anniversary cover of American Vogue. In a controversial move, she also appeared in Madonna's book ‘Sex’ that year.
In the mid-1990s, Naomi Campbell tried her hands in various fields. The English beauty released her novel ‘Swan.’ The novel, ghost-written by Caroline Upche, received poor reviews. During this time, she released her album titled ‘Baby Woman’ and also played minor roles in the movies ‘Girl 6’ and ‘Miami Rhapsody’.
In the year 1999, she signed a deal contract with Wella’s Cosmopolitan Cosmetics and launched a line of her signature fragrances. Campbell also posed for ‘Playboy’ and ‘British Vogue’ around this time.
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In 2007, she walked the ramp for Dior's 60th-anniversary fashion event at Versailles. The following year, she appeared with a few fellow black models on the cover of an all-black issue of the Italian Vogue. The iconic photograph was clicked by Steven Meisel.
She appeared with Iman and Liya Kebede on the cover of ‘Essence’ for its 40th-anniversary issue in 2011. In March 2013, the English model graced the cover of ‘Numéro Russia.’ Soon after this, she contributed to the reality television modelling competition show, ‘The Face.’
She appeared as a supermodel mentor in ‘The Face Australia’ that ran on Fox8 in 2014. In 2015, she served as the show-stopper at New York Fashion Week’s Fall/Winter Zac Posen show. That year, Campbell also joined the cast of Fox’s series ‘Empire’ as Camilla Marks. In addition, she appeared in two episodes of ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ the same year.
In September 2017, she was featured in Versace's Spring/Summer 2018 fashion show and also appeared in the campaign for the collection.
In February 2018, she walked on the runway for Kim Jones' final menswear fashion event for Louis Vuitton. In April the same year, Campbell, alongside rapper Skepta, appeared on the cover of ‘British GQ.’
Naomi Campbell is involved with numerous charitable organizations. She has been supporting the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund for a long time.
In 2005, she founded the charity We Love Brazil in order to raise funds to fight poverty in Brazil. The same year, she founded Fashion for Relief to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina as well the victims of other natural and man-made disasters.
In 2009, the English model was chosen as the goodwill ambassador by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
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Blood Diamond Scandal
In August 2010, Naomi Campbell appeared at the Special Court for Sierra Leone during a war crimes trial against ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor. She was called to confirm facts regarding a "blood diamond" she had allegedly received from Taylor in 1997 during a Nelson Mandela Children's Fund event.
Campbell initially refused to testify. However, later she stated that she was provided some "dirty-looking" stones at night by two men anonymously. She further claimed that she was unaware that those diamonds had come from Taylor.
The model’s statements were challenged by testimonies from her former agent Carole White as well as from Jeremy Ratcliffe, former director of Children's Fund.
In January 2007, Naomi Campbell pleaded guilty for assaulting her former housekeeper who accused the model of throwing a personal organiser at her the past year.
In 2008, she was charged with assaulting two police officials at the London Heathrow Airport. After she pleaded guilty, Campbell was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. The model was also fined £2,300 and was banned for life from British Airways.
Campbell was sentenced to six months' probation in July 2015, after she pleaded guilty to assaulting a paparazzo photographer in 2009.
Naomi Campbell has never met her biological father and regards record producers Chris Blackwell and Quincy Jones as father figures. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, once referred to Campbell as his "honorary granddaughter".
Coming to the model’s love life, she was engaged to U2 bassist Adam Clayton in 1993. After separating from Clayton, she became engaged to racing driver Flavio Briatore. The couple had an on-again-off-again relationship until their final separation in 2003.
In July 2017, it was reported that Campbell was dating multimillionaire Louis C. Camilleri.