Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison on the Art of Modeling

Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison

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service and two days of anger-management classes in connection with one of her altercations.

“I’ve had many challenges in my career,” Campbell admits. “You know what? That’s my past. And with the help of friends and people like Bethann [Hardison], and my mother I was able to overcome.” She adds of Hardison, “She is a lady I will constantly go to for advice, and you know, she’s like family to me.”

Hardison has known Campbell since she flew to London to discuss signing the young model to her agency. Even though Campbell went with another agent, Hardison says she was the first person Naomi called when she got to the States. She describes young Naomi as a shy kid. “She just always knew if something was going not right, she could call me and talk to me about it and I’d give her my guidance and my thought about it. “

Hardison says modeling’s competitive edge and exclusivity makes having high-placed mentors all the more important. 

A former model herself, she remembers, “When I first started to model, I had someone that I called my ‘Mother Model,’” Hardison continues, “She was there when I went to Mexico on my first trip... She was there when I had to talk to her about different things.” Years later, she started the Black Girls Coalition to bring Black models together for charitable causes. “I taught them about their own celebrity and how important it could be used to help others.”

Perhaps for this reason Campbell says she doesn’t take her role as a mentor on The Face lightly.

To be sure, it was a professional risk for the model to align her personal brand as an exclusive high-fashion model with a reality series that airs just before The Bad Girls Club: Atlanta and give viewers weekly access to her, but Campbell says she hopes to pass on the nuggets she’s learned. “Whether you want to end up sticking to it or your calling is something else, it never hurts to learn and to know and to have knowledge about something,” she says. In the meantime, she plans to do all she can to help the girls build real careers in the business.

“I’m going to make sure I place them with good agencies and make sure their career is going okay and they get a good start with people I trust and know.” She adds,I didn’t want them to emulate me. I didn’t want to teach them to be me… I want to teach them to be [their] best.”

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of the novel Powder Necklace and founder of the blog People Who Write. Follow her on Twitter @nanaekua.