A fixture on the modeling scene for nearly three decades, Niki Taylor epitomizes what we think of when we talk about supermodels. She was the youngest person ever to be featured as one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People as well as the first spokesmodel younger than 18 to sign a major contract with CoverGirl, and she appeared on the cover of six major American magazines in the same month, dubbed the “Niki Six”. But behind the megawatt smile, Niki faced her own challenges due to family tragedy and a near fatal car accident. After taking a hiatus, Niki returned to modeling with much fanfare and has parlayed her brand into charitable work, most notably as a brand ambassador for the Nexcare Give Program, a partnership with Nexcare Bandages and the American Red Cross. I spoke with Niki about her remarkable career.
You began your career during the heyday of the Supermodel era and now there’s something of a renaissance and renewed interest in those models and that time period. What do you attribute that to?
I think a lot of the models have been working steadily all along—maybe now there is a recognition of that fact. To me, the job of a model is to represent and communicate with the intended audience. It must be working for the clients, or they would not be paying us to do so.
You had the opportunity to work with some of the legends in the business. Tell us about some of the most memorable moments of your career.
The obvious milestones are the big contracts, cover shoots, or simply the great chemistry you have on set with people. For the most part, all the models got along really well. I never hung out with a lot of models because I lived in Florida, but we’d meet up on set or around the world during Fashion Week and it was always great to see them again, even if it was just crossing on the runway.
What do you attribute your longevity in this industry to?
I think there are always two parts to having a long career. The first is that you love doing it, and the second is that clients need to want you to work for them and see value in that.
Did you have any reservations about your sons entering the modeling industry and what advice did you give them?
The industry has changed a lot, but as long as they have fun doing it and it provides them with an income and opportunities they want, I am all for it.
You recently had a special Mother’s Day photoshoot with your daughter Ciel. Is she fashion’s next Niki Taylor?
I hope she becomes the next Ciel Taylor Lamar!
You’ve had tremendous highs in your career punctuated by incredibly dark periods. What did you discover about yourself during those times?
That the old Persian saying “This too shall pass” is true. You get through everything and while it does change you along the way, you can make it through. I’ve always clung to that.
Tell us about how you got involved with the American Red Cross and the Nexcare Give campaign and why it’s important to you.
I hardly consider myself a celebrity, but some people think I am, so if a by-product of that is to be able to focus people’s attention on something that can drive a cause, help people, or awaken interest in something we should all pay attention to, I am all for it.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement and why?
My family. It is an ongoing mindset of caring and coping with life that never ceases to provide joy and meaning.
How would you like to be remembered?
Like a happy sunny day.