#1

Naomi Campbell: ‘People try to use your past to blackmail you. I won’t allow it’

in Salary Structure Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:29 pm
by loredoss • 3 Posts

Naomi Campbell: ‘People try to use your past to blackmail you. I won’t allow it’

At a big and ritzy Halloween party in New York two Saturdays ago, a lot of highly famous people dressed up as other highly famous people. Naomi Campbell, however, went as herself. Why deign to masquerade as some lesser being when you are already an internationally acknowledged apogee of fabulousness? In a gold strapless mini dress and a crown bigger than the one Beyoncé wore at the Grammys, the 47-year-old supermodel was approached by more than one party guest who had come in costume as Naomi Campbell.

When we meet, Halloween itself, we are in the restaurant of a downtown Manhattan hotel and one of us has been here a lot longer than the other. It would have been disappointing, bewildering even, if Campbell were punctual. Extreme lateness has become part of her notoriety, her mythos of supreme divadom. One hour and 27 minutes after the scheduled time, she swoops in, the full force of her, in giant sunglasses and on the phone, flanked by an assistant smiling apologies. Does she want anything? Coffee, water? “No. I just want to start,” she says, sitting down and stressing the last word by giving the table a brisk rap with manicured fingertips.

She acknowledges the homages with smooth queenliness. “Every Halloween, I’m very honoured and flattered to see many Naomis,” she says in a coy, Cool Britannia voice that floats somewhere between Streatham and Notting Hill, both south-London-gal-at-the-back-of-a-bus and posh-lady-taking-tea. “When I came to New York and went to my first Christopher Street parade, I saw many Naomis.” And, in conclusion: “I embrace them all.”

This is how it begins, then, with Campbell seemingly in character as one of the imperious women she plays on the small screen. She is vampish, predatory Camilla Marks in Lee Daniels’s hip-hop drama series Empire, a character who had a particularly fine coital moment yanking on the gold chains of a besotted, shirtless Hakeem Lyon (23-year-old Bryshere Yazuan Gray) to intone: “Tell me who am I to you.” (“My mama,” he answers, in a whisper.) She was also Claudia Bankson, a shade-throwing Vogue editor on the cult FX show American Horror Story. Finally, she plays Rose Spencer-Crane in the new show Star, the petulant wife of a rock star and a woman who descends upon working-class Atlanta swathed in designer clothes to deliver lines such as: “You have bad roots, you insolent hussy.”

These characters are all delicious to watch, but they are united by cartoonish hauteur. As I ask Campbell about this acting phase of her life, one facet of a highly visible career resurgence, she taps away at a text, peering distractedly at her phone for the response. I seem to be getting an act, all three roles in one. Over the next 40 minutes, however, she turns into a human being. And not just a human being, a likable one.

Advertisement

“Put it this way,” she says, sliding the phone away and launching into a motor-mouthed monologue. “Everything I’ve had, I’ve worked for. And I will never take the easy way to get anything. So I’m grateful to Lee [Daniels] – I’m a grafter and I work hard at something for the long term. I don’t believe in things that happen overnight. I’m grateful not to have gotten it all because I think I would have lost it all. I came into everything so young.” In 1986, a few weeks shy of her 16th birthday, her first ever shoot landed her on the cover of British Elle. “I’m grateful for the way my path has turned out. And I am very spiritual, I do believe in God, and I thank God every day for my blessings because I know I am blessed.”

Read more at http://www.queeniebridesmaid.co.uk


Scroll up