If you haven't heard, yet another modeling competition show called The Face is about to make its debut and it has a few big names behind it: ANTM cast-off Nigel Barker, Coco Rocha, Karolina Kurkova, and Naomi Campbell. Campbell hopped on a conference call with me and some other journalists to chat about her new gig. Yes, I got to listen to Naomi Campbell talk on the phone for an hour. It was pretty unreal.
The Face is basically to America's Next Top Model what The Voice is to American Idol (except, erm, without the blind judging). Instead of collectively judging a big group of girls, each model coaches her own small team of girls. It sounds promising and, you know, if Naomi Campbell is involved, it can't be all bad.
Read on for what Naomi had to say about why she agreed to do the show, her "harsh" judging style, getting along (or not?) with her fellow coaches, and diversity in the modeling industry.
Naomi is not Tyra Banks and has never seen America's Next Top Model:
Well first of all I am different, I’m before Tyra and I have a lot of respect for Tyra and what she’s done with America’s Next Top Model and what she’s done for young women out there who want to be in the fashion industry. I don’t like to compare anything that I do. I’ve not really watched [ANTM] but from what I know it’s a different type of format.
Her coaching style? Tough love:
I’m very honest, and I’m quite tough with my girls because I won’t be with them to hold their hands going to castings and going out there in the real world....I’m tough love but I care very much about my girls and I want them to get as much out of me as possible.
She, Karolina and Coco are mentors, not judges:
We’re not judges. What it is, is the clients, the brands that we bring on--they decide, which is how it is in the real world of modeling. What attracted me was the mentoring side of it. I’ve been asked for many years to do television, but I didn’t feel comfortable telling someone, you’re not right, you’re not this.
She's not there to make friends:
For me, it's a competition even between the coaches. We each are very different and in different places in our careers. I’ve been doing it longer than both Karolina and Coco together; we all have our different approaches. You’ll see that we mentor our girls in a very different way. I get along with both the girls; but at the end of the day, this is a competition and I do realize that we have someone’s career in our hands that is going to win this competition who is looking at us and hoping they can get into the world of modeling in the right way and get the right exposure.
She thinks the winner of The Face will actually have a career after winning The Face:
I definitely think she will be seen; she will be known across America...She fits the criteria; she looks like a model; she is a model; she has that extra little something we talk to our girls about having to have.
She's disappointed by the lack of diversity in modeling:
In terms of diversity, it's an ongoing subject we could sit here and talk about forever. I like to always stay optimistic. I pray every fashion week. I do see a lot of the young models of color out there and when they come to me and say, 'They didn’t want me because of [my skin color],' it hurts. I feel I worked so long in this business and I hoped it would make it easier, so I get disappointed when I hear something. We’re in 2013. It shouldn't be happening; we have Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. I hope we’re going to see a lot of women of different colors and cultures up on the runways because the world has changed with the countries that are now emerging markets.
The Face debuts Tuesday, February 12 on Oxygen.