Naomi Campbell (born 22 May 1970) is a British model. Scouted at the age of 15, she established herself among the top three most recognisable and in-demand models of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and she was one of six models of her generation declared "supermodels" by the fashion world. As the most famous black model of her time, Campbell has been outspoken throughout her career against the racial bias that exists in the fashion industry. Her personal life is widely reported, particularly her relationships with prominent men—including boxer Mike Tyson and actor Robert De Niro—and several high-profile assault convictions.
Campbell's first public appearance came at the age of seven, in 1978, when she was featured in the music video for Bob Marley's "Is This Love". That same year, she played Snow White in two episodes of the Children's Film Foundation television series The Chiffy Kids. At the age of twelve, she tap-danced in the music video for Culture Club's "I'll Tumble 4 Ya".
In 1986, Campbell was scouted by Beth Boldt, head of the Synchro model agency, while window-shopping in Covent Garden. Her career quickly took off—in April, just before her sixteenth birthday, she appeared on the cover of British Elle. Over the next few years, Campbell's success grew steadily: she walked the runway for such designers as Gianni Versace, Azzedine Alaïa, and Isaac Mizrahi, and posed for such photographers as Peter Lindbergh, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. By the late 1980s, Campbell was part of a trio of models—the others being Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista—known as the "Trinity", who became the most recognisable and in-demand models of their generation.
When faced with discrimination, Campbell received support from her friends; she later quoted Turlington and Evangelista as telling Dolce & Gabbana, "If you don't use Naomi, you don't get us." In December 1987, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue, as that publication's first black cover girl since 1966. In August 1988, she became the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue, after her friend and mentor, designer Yves St. Laurent, threatened to withdraw his advertising from the magazine if it continued to refuse to place black models on its cover. The following year, she appeared on the cover of American Vogue, which marked the first time a black model graced the front of the September issue, traditionally the year's biggest and most important issue.
In January 1990, Campbell, who was declared "the reigning megamodel of them all" by Interview, appeared with Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, and Tatjana Patitz on an iconic cover of British Vogue, shot by Peter Lindbergh. The group was subsequently cast to star in the music video for George Michael's "Freedom! '90". By then, Campbell—along with Turlington, Evangelista, Crawford, and Claudia Schiffer—formed an elite group of models declared "supermodels" by the fashion industry. With the addition of newcomer Kate Moss, they were collectively known as the "Big Six".
In March 1991, in a defining moment of the so-called supermodel era, Campbell walked the runway for Versace with Turlington, Evangelista, and Crawford, arm-in-arm and lip-synching the words to "Freedom! '90". Later that year, she starred as Michael Jackson's love interest in the music video for "In the Closet". In April 1992, she posed with several other top models for the hundredth-anniversary cover of American Vogue, shot by Patrick Demarchelier. That same year, she appeared in Madonna's controversial book Sex, in a set of nude photos with Madonna and rapper Big Daddy Kane.
In 1993, Campbell twice appeared on the cover of American Vogue; in April, alongside Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Stephanie Seymour, and Helena Christensen, and again, solo, in June. She famously fell on the runway in Vivienne Westwood's foot-high platform shoes, which were later displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Despite her success, however, Elite Model Management, which had represented Campbell since 1987, fired her in September, on the grounds that "no amount of money or prestige could further justify the abuse" to staff and clients. Elite founder John Casablancas described her as "manipulative, scheming, rude, and impossible."
In the mid 1990s, Campbell branched out into other areas of the entertainment industry. Her novel Swan, about a supermodel dealing with blackmail, was released in 1994 to poor reviews. It was ghostwritten by Caroline Upcher, with Campbell explaining that she "just did not have the time to sit down and write a book." That same year, Campbell released her album babywoman, named after designer Rifat Ozbek's nickname for her. A critical and commercial failure, the album produced the single "Love and Tears", which reached No. 40 on the UK charts. In 1995, Campbell and fellow models Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson invested in an ill-fated chain of restaurants called the Fashion Cafe. Campbell also attempted an acting career: she had small roles in Miami Rhapsody and Spike Lee's Girl 6, as well as a recurring role on the second season of New York Undercover.