Naomi Campbell spoke out during London Fashion Week in September this year to accuse sectors of the industry of discriminating against black and Asian models.
This video clip in which Naomi is interviewed for Channel 4 is a tough one. It is a bit lengthy, the speakers talk quite fast, their voices often overlap, they get angry at times, there are cultural references and a bit of name dropping... in short, it has all the elements that make listening the hardest skill of all.
Let's give it a try, anyway.
Watch the video through and just get acquainted with what is going on there.
Watch the video again and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 Naomi is accusing the fashion industry of being racist.
2 More than eighty percent of models in big fashion shows are white.
3 The situation is worse now than when Naomi started in the industry.
4 Naomi has talked to Victoria Beckham.
5 Naomi has worked as a fashion model for more than thirty years.
6 Naomi's campaign is being successful.
7 For Naomi, what people think of her is very important.
8 As well as modelling, Naomi has a TV show.
9 Naomi feels optimistic about seeing more models of colour in London.
Are you essentially accusing the industry that you've done very well in of of being racist?
No, I'm saying the act of not choosing models of colour is racist, so I'm not saying I'm not, we’re not calling them racist, we’re saying the act is racist and I'm also saying that they may not intentionally know, but they do choose, they hire casting directors, they hire stylists, and they are now the ones who choose the models not so much, so much the designer anymore. So it's not directly the designer but it does affect their house and their brand.
So what you're saying is that over eighty percent, of eighty-two percent of last year's walks on fashion runway shows in New York, in New York Fashion Week were white models and just 6 percent black.
6 percent black and 9 percent Asian.
And is this worse than it was when you went into the business, what, twenty seven years ago?
Yes, yes it was, it is, sorry, because when I started modeling I did Yves Saint Laurent, I did...Versace, there was a great balance of models and color.
But you're a well famous supermodel, why can't you go up to Victoria Beckham…
Who says I haven't?
…and what is Victoria Beckham saying.
I haven't got up to Victoria Beckham but who says I haven't got up to designers that I am friendly with and said, hey, why are you not using more models of color. I have.
And what do they say what do your friends say?
We want to, you're right, you're right but it doesn't happen.
You’re the face that launched a thousand magazine covers, doesn't your success prove that black models can be extremely successful?
We don't want them to hide behind their aesthetic of when they say what the show is gonna be this aesthetic this season. We want them just to allow balance diversity, and yes, I have worked for 27 years, almost 28, and it's very upsetting to me, it’s heartbreaking to be sitting here in 2013, even having this interview.
And you've chosen normally, you've named really big brands Calvin Klein, Armani, Prada has it got to the point where you will not work for companies that you think are involved in racist … .
I'm lucky enough that I work on television now and I still do modeling as well, obviously, and I'm not trying to accuse and point fingers and embarrass anyone. We're just basically trying to say ‘be aware’.
And does the British end of things particularly disappoint you, given that you're Streatham born and bred, that you're naming Alexander McQueen, you’re naming Mulbury…
I'm not pointing, I'm not pointing to one country, we are pointing to the fashion industry as a whole.
But you’re naming Alexander McQueen, you’re naming Mulbury, you've named Victoria Beckham…
Yeah, because they haven't used any models of colour.
And how will you measure success from your campaign, the fact that you've written to all these fashion houses.
New York was okay, New York shows have just finished. Huge difference, big difference, so many more models of colour, 6 black models in Calvin Klein, there were none last year, so things are changing.
You're quite famous for having Nelson Mandela as a role model, I'm wondering whether you feel this is your campaign other than this is what you ...
I feel this is our campaign and as I said Bethann Hardison is a woman I've looked up to and known since I'm 15 years old…
This is your fellow black model.
And Iman also the same, with huge respect to both and I feel if I'm able to open my mouth but it’s something Mr Mandela did tell me I could do when I was younger, if you can use your mouth to help others, do so. You can speak to help others.
Because I mean people most recently you've been in the headlines for the whole Charles Taylor diamond business.
I don't want to talk about that.
The only reason I ask…
I don't care about that. This is fashion, this is what I've known to do, this is my job, when it comes to my job I don't think anyone can fault me.
I just wondered, wondered whether you were worried…
I don’t care what people think about me…
… it were harder for you to speak out because you’ve been critisised in the past.
I don’t care what people think about me as their opinion, they are allowed to have their opinion but what they cannot do for me is my job and this is my business fashion, this is what I'm in and this is what I see. You have a reputation rightly or wrongly for being quite an angry person.
I'm not here to talk about me, I’m here to talk about balanced diversity, so I think I will finish you as I need to get back to my set and finish my TV show.
But let me finish my question. I would have wondered whether there's a good anger and a bad anger, this is actually a good anger to have.
This is.. it's not about… I’m not angry and I don't like the thing of the angry black woman. This is not what this is about. We are just… you asked to interview me because we've done very nice interviews in America and you wanna know what it's all about, so we're telling you what it's all about. We feel passionate, feeling passionate about something does not have to mean to that you are angry.
What is your message, to finish, to the London fashion industry … based on what week of the year?
I think, I have faith in London because London fashion, the British Fashion Council were the first Fashion Council to respond and so I …
And what did they say to you?
And so… it wasn't to me it was a letter sent to Beth Ann so I, and it was a positive response. I feel really optimistic about London. I think London is gonna do the right thing and we gonna see a lot more models of colour on the runway, that's how I feel about London.
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