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Naomi Campbell candidly opens up about her drug and alcohol abuse – revealing she turned to substances to ‘cover up’ her childhood trauma and grief… only for addiction to leave her with ‘huge fear and anxiety’


Naomi Campbell has opened up about her battle with drug and alcohol addiction in her early modelling days for the candid new documentary, The Super Models.

The fashion icon, 53, claimed she started to abuse substances as a way to deal with the grief of her childhood abandonment issues – as well as the shocking death of her close friend and beloved designer Gianni Versace.

In the Apple TV+ docuseries, the runway legends opens up about her game-changing career path alongside fellow super models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington.

However, the four-episode project took time to reflect on the tougher moments which took place during the height of their fame – with Naomi admitting that she was slowly ‘killing’ herself early in her career due to the amount of drugs she took in the early 90s.

Naomi Campbell opened up about what led to her her battle with drug and alcohol addiction in her early modelling days 

The fashion icon explained that the shocking death of her close friend and beloved designer Gianni Versace was a huge trigger; pictured together in 1995

‘Grief has been a very strange thing in my life because it doesn’t always [show],’ the mother-of-two explained. ‘I go into a shock and freak out when it actually happens, and then later is when I break. But I kept the sadness inside, I just dealt with it.’

The fashion world was rocked when famed designer Giovanni Maria ‘Gianni’ Versace was shot dead outside his Miami Beach home in 1997.

Naomi had developed a close bond with the Italian fashion icon and was one of many who had been left heartbroken by the loss of his life.

Speaking about the special place he held in her heart, Naomi explained: ‘[Late designer] Azzedine Alaïa was my papa. With him, I learnt about chosen families. The same for Gianni Versace. 

‘He was very sensitive to feeling me, like, he pushed me. How would push me to step outside and go further when I didn’t think I had it within myself to do it. So, when he died, my grief became very bad.’

She continued: ‘When I started using, that was one of the things I tried to cover up, was grief. Addiction is such a… it’s just a bulls**t thing, it really is. 

‘You think, “Oh it’s gonna heal that wound”. It doesn’t. It can cause such huge fear and anxiety. So I got really angry.’

The British-born model famously collapsed at a 1999 photo shoot after five years of cocaine addiction. The scary moment prompted her to check into rehab that year.

Naomi admitted that she had been ‘killing’ herself due to the amount of drugs she took in the early 90s

In the confessional, Naomi made it clear that she was aware of how her substance abuse led her down a life-threatening path as she added: ‘When you try to cover something up, your feelings… You spoke about abandonment. I tried to cover that with something. You can’t cover it. I was killing myself. It was very hurtful.’

She also made light references to her previous assault convictions, the first in February 2000, which saw her plead guilty in Toronto to assaulting her personal assistant with a mobile phone in September 1998. Several other employees and associates came forward with claims of abuse by 2006.

‘For my mistakes, I’ve always owned up to them. I chose to go to rehab, Naomi stated. ‘It was one of the best and only things I could have done for myself at that time. It is scary to pick up the mirror and look into the mirror. It is scary, and it’s taken me many years to work on and deal with.’

The model claimed a large trigger for her substance abuse was her unresolved abandonment issues from growing up without a father figure.

Naomi was born to Jamaican-born dancer Valerie Morris and has never met her father, who abandoned her mother when she was pregnant. 

The documentary highlighted Naomi’s previous comments about the issue from her 2000 interview with Barbara Walters in which she stated: ‘There’s a lot of issues that I have from childhood. Well, for instance, not knowing your father, not seeing your mother. That brings up a lot of … it manifests a lot of feelings. 

‘One of those feelings… absolutely is anger. But I think that’s a really normal thing. I’ve not always displayed my anger in the appropriate time. It’s always been an unappropriate time. But it’s a manifestation of a deeper issue, anger.’

The model claimed another trigger for her substance abuse was her unresolved abandonment issues from growing up without a father figure

Naomi was born to Jamaican-born dancer Valerie Morris and has never met her father, who abandoned her mother when she was pregnant 

She continued: ‘And that, for me, I think is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness, and being abandonment. That’s where my core issues were abandonment and rejection. 

‘That puts me in a real vulnerable space, and everyone thinks, “Oh, Naomi’s a really tough girl and really strong”. But that’s what I want to appear to people to be like, because if I fear that I don’t, they’re gonna just walk all over me if they really knew.’

Reflecting on her journey in the documentary, Naomi admitted: ‘It does still come up sometimes. But I just now have the tools how to deal with it now when it comes up. 

‘I have to think of something outside of myself. Something greater than myself.’

The model also revealed her battle has helped her to guide others as they faced similar struggles as she continued: ‘If I have people in my life that I love and I see that they need help, of course I’m going to offer my help. I’m there, I’m very loyal to the people that I love.’

Designer Marc Jacobs then spoke about Naomi reached out to help doing his own time of crisis, while troubled designer John Galiano explained that the supermodel ‘brought joy when I was in a place that was so dark’. 

He gushed: ‘Naomi did arrange for me to go to rehab in Arizona. I mean, she’s super in every way. So it’s good that I tell this story because apart from work, she’s human too.’

The Apple TV+ documentary charts the rise of the women who earned millions, dated movie stars and cemented their status of supermodels after that iconic music video for George Michael’s track, Freedom, in 1990. 

The Apple TV+ docuseries sees the runway icon open up about her game-changing career alongside fellow super models Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington

It’s the first time all four of the surviving icons – Tatjana Patitz died earlier this year of breast cancer – have come together to discuss the phenomenon in depth.

While the series basks in the exceptional beauty of the women it doesn’t shy away from the uglier issues they faced, such as domestic abuse and racial inequality. 

Typically reserved Linda Evangelista is seen in tears and she opens up about being left disfigured by a failed cosmetic procedure.

Meanwhile the Canadian beauty also shares claims that ex-husband Gérald Marie abused her during their five-year marriage.

Cindy Crawford recalls an uncomfortable interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1986 that left her feeling like ‘chattel’. 

Elsewhere, Naomi reveals she is perimenopausal after being captured suffering a ‘hot flush’ during a photoshoot in the docu-series.

The Supermodels is available to stream now on Apple TV+. 


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