In an interview with a reporter from Britain’s Channel 4 News, Campbell addresses what she calls the racist nature of model casting in her industry.
“Are you essentially accusing the industry that you’ve done very well in of being racist?” the reporter asked the 43-year-old supermodel.
“No, I’m saying the act of not choosing models of color is racist,” the stunner explained. “I’m not calling them racist. We’re saying the act is racist.”
The Diversity Coalition get serious
The “we” she is referring to includes herself, supermodel-turned-beauty-mogul Iman, and former model and current fashion activist Bethann Hardison.
These fashion icons of African descent are part of the Diversity Coalition, which launched a letter campaign during New York Fashion Week in early September.
The organization called out major fashion houses and international governing bodies of fashion for the persistent failure to use models of color.
Channeling passions for good
Channel 4 asked Campbell whether her ardor in pursuing justice for models of color might be a better channel for what was described as her infamous temper.
“You have a reputation, rightly or wrongly, for being quite an angry person,” the reporter alleged.
“I’m not here to talk about me. I’m here to talk about balanced diversity,” Campbell said, cutting him off.
“I’m not angry. And I don’t like the thing of the ‘angry black woman’ either. This is not what this is about,” Campbell said.
“We feel passionate,” she added. “Feeling passionate about something does not have to mean that you are angry.”
Racist experiences fuel empowerment
Revealing that she has experienced racism a number of times in her career, Campbell also hopes to change the fashion industry so that models of color can have the opportunities she has enjoyed.
“What we are asking for is that based on your talent, on your beauty, you should be able to go up for a job, not on the color of your skin,” Campbell said.
“I will always speak and defend my own. That’s just a given,” she added.
“Bravo, Naomi! That’s the calm, cool and collected gal we like to see,” commented Julee Wilson of The Huffington Post on Campbell’s response.
Campbell’s new leadership role
Concurrently, Campbell’s modeling competition series The Face just recently kicked off its coming season with a pop-up runway presentation in New York City.
Joined by her two new supermodel coaches, Anne V and Lydia Hearst, and host Nigel Barker, Campbell and the cast filmed part of the very first episode last week in front of a cheering crowd that gathered at the sight of the cameras and the style stars.
Far from being an “angry black woman,” Campbell has positively revitalized her image in recent years. Not only is she standing up for models of color; she is also the executive producer of The Face, taking a leadership role on a television show that itself promotes fashion diversity. Last season’s winner, Devyn Abdullah, is a model of color.
Jezebel.com just released its diversity review of the just-ended Spring 2014 New York Fashion Week, which found that the lack of equal representation is still an issue.
Given the climate, Naomi Campbell’s new leadership role will be a welcome force as fashion industry watchdogs continue to wrestle with the question of racism in fashion.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.