Interview: Cindy Crawford is Prepared for Her Opportunities

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CHICAGO – Cindy Crawford is one of the great supermodels, and while she acknowledges her one-of-a-kind beauty, it was also her intelligence and hard work that created her successful modeling and business careers. Ms. Crawford is also the Charity Challenge Ambassador for the Art Van furniture stores.

Ms. Crawford was born in DeKalb, Illinois, and was working in the prairie corn fields as a teenager, when her picture appeared in the local newspaper. The feedback from that photo convinced her to join the modeling profession. She was valedictorian at her high school as well, but pursued her modeling career by moving to New York City two years afterward. Her profile exploded, and she became one of the most popular supermodels in the 1980s and ‘90s, with visibility on magazine covers such as Vogue, People, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Allure. She even did a cover shot for the short lived political magazine called George, dressed as George Washington.

Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford For the Art Van Charity Challenge in Chicago, October 29th, 2014
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Ms. Crawford also runs many successful businesses, promoting exercise videos, beauty products, furniture, and hosting an MTV show called “House of Style.” She also took a shot at acting, having been featured in the 1995 film “Fair Game.” She has been named by People Magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People,” and fashion designer Michael Kors once said she has “brains, charm and professionalism to spare.” got to speak with Ms. Crawford, right before her introduction as Charity Challenge Ambassador for the Art Van furniture stores. What is the origin of your association with Art Van, that morphed into your representation as the Charity Challenge Ambassador? 

Cindy Crawford: I’ve had a furniture line for the last ten years, and I started selling it in the Art Van stores in Michigan seven years ago. When I first met Art, we got to know each other, and he asked me about my philanthropic efforts, and telling me about his contributions.

I was very impressed, because Art gives back a lot in his community. Because he’s been in Chicago for a year, he’s including Chicago in that charitable community. This event is to raise awareness that Art Van is in the city, and also to kick off their charity, and they intend to give away a million dollars in the next year, to many different organizations. You’re a Midwestern woman by birth and early life, what characteristics do you possess from that background that allow you to survive the modeling and business jungle?

Crawford: I think when I first moved to New York City, I had that Midwestern work ethic still with me. I also feel – if you ask me how I relate to this question now – it’s about how real and grounded the people are here. That has helped to keep me grounded, even though I’ve had a crazy career. You made a transition to actress with the film ‘Fair Game’ in 1995. What was the biggest challenge in that transition?

Crawford: I never wanted to be an actress, but I was friends with this producer and he decided he wanted me to do this movie, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I did it, and it probably wasn’t one of the best decisions of my life. I wasn’t an actress, and I hadn’t studied acting at all. But I tried it, to see if I would like it.

The great thing about doing that movie was I learned I wasn’t an actress, and I didn’t particularly like it. I’m very comfortable in front of the camera being me, when I’m hosting ‘House of Style’ or doing commercials when I’m Cindy Crawford – I’m very comfortable doing that. When I’m trying to be someone else, I feel inauthentic. It was a gift to do ‘Fair Game,’ because I was able to put the attempt at being an actress to rest. Since you have traveled the world in your career, what place is most spiritual to you, and what spirituality do you derive from it?

Crawford: It would be my home, I live on a beach in Malibu. When I’m down on that beach, either by myself or with my husband or kids, you can’t hide there and you’re at your most natural self. It’s also a great place to talk, something about it that makes for deeper conversations.

Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford Sits on Top of the World
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for From DeKalb to Malibu, God Bless America.

Crawford: [Laughs] The American Dream right there. You were a top student before your modeling career, and had a relationship with academia. What disciplines from your student years did you use most in your early modeling days and subsequent business dealings?

Crawford: In my early modeling days, it was about the discipline. What I applied to my first jobs working in the corn fields, I applied to modeling. I was always on time and always prepared. The unexpected second act of my career has been my business career, and I feel my love of learning has helped me in that area. When I go to a meeting and I don’t know what they’re talking about, I want to learn, and I have the tools to absorb information. I know how to learn. Since extreme beauty attracts a whole range of people and business offers, what parameters on your ‘B.S.’ meter did you develop in order to determine who to trust?

Crawford: Well, if you ask my husband, he’d tell you I’m still not very good with that meter. [laughs] It goes back again to the Midwestern roots, we like people, we want people to like us, and we trust people. I would choose to be that way any day of the week rather than being cynical and mistrusting.

I can only judge what I see about another person. I feel like the truth reveals itself. What is the old saying, ‘if someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ I also think I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, until proven otherwise. What do you think of the karma of the right moment? Meaning that you happened to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right look. What do think about the energy it took for that to happen?

Crawford: Lucky. [laughs] No, it’s true. The expression I use is that the stars were in alignment. Sometimes it’s just meant to be. And there is that other saying, that luck and success is preparedness meeting opportunity. I worked hard, but I also acknowledge that I was given a good envelope, the luck of the genetic lottery. Finally, in your long and adventurous life, what was the first instance you can remember in which you thought to yourself, ‘how did I get here?’

Crawford: It was early in my career, and I was going through an airport. It was the first time I had a Vogue cover, and I went to a newsstand to buy it. It was surreal, taking my face off a rack and purchasing it. And it went from there.

For more information about the Art Van Charity Challenge, represented by Cindy Crawford, click here. For more about Cindy Crawford, click on senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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