The career of a model can often be a painfully short endeavor, but 43-year-old Naomi Campbell – who was first spotted while shopping on the streets of London at the age of 15 – has shown remarkable staying power throughout conquest and controversy.
In 2013, the British star – one of the original six models of her generation dubbed “supermodels” by the fashion industry – made her first foray into reality television, signing on to be a mentor and exec producer on Oxygen’s modeling competition show The Face.
Since launching the Shine America-produced show Stateside last February, Campbell has since gone on to front a UK version of the format, which aired on Sky Living, and has signed up for an Australian version, which is set to air this year.
Meanwhile, a second season of the U.S. version – which kicks off next week on March 5 – will see models Lydia Hearst and Anne Vyalitsyna replacing first season mentors Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha.
Campbell met with realscreen in Cannes to discuss the fashion format, and give a hint of what to expect from the Oxygen show’s second season.
You must have had hundreds of offers to do TV shows over the years. What drew you to The Face?
I have had many offers and I’ve been very grateful for those offers, but I declined because I either wasn’t ready at that time in my life, or I didn’t feel the concept was right for me. What attracted me to The Face was the mentoring aspect, and also trusting [Shine Group founder and CEO] Lis Murdoch, as she was a friend.
You’re involved with several different versions of the format. Are there unique elements and challenges between the various editions?
They’re slightly tweaked – we don’t have a host in London. I love [U.S. host] Nigel Barker; he is amazing at what he does and it’s a pleasure to work with him in America. Basically, we’re focusing more on the skill in London, and with the American version we’ll be focusing more on the skill this season too. And on getting more time in with our girls, which is the most important thing.
Do they feel like distinctly different shows when you’re doing them in each territory?
Yes – they are not just one whole melting pot. They are different shows, absolutely. Different girls, different characters, different stories, different emotions… It’s like restarting a relationship.
Oxygen will soon launch the second season of The Face in the U.S.; tell me what we can expect.
We have two new mentors – we have Anne V and Lydia Hearst – and this one is very, very challenging; very hard.
In what way is it challenging?
Endurance-wise. We really push our girls, but we get the most amazing transformation out of all 12. I feel like all three of us have different mentoring skills, but it works for each of us with our girls. It’s amazing; I can’t wait for you to see it.
- The second season of The Face premieres next Wednesday (March 5) on Oxygen at 10 p.m. EST/PST
- This article first appeared in the January/February 2014 edition of realscreen magazine, which is out now. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.