Cameron Russell is at the top of her modelling game, with loyal clients that include JCrew and H&M. But she’s thoroughly focused on Interrupt, the magazine she created following her wildly successful TEDTalk.
She chatted about the project on the TEDBlog. Here are our highlights:
Welcome to Space-Made—the art lab where Cameron Russell and her collaborators create Interrupt, a magazine that lets marginalized communities tell their own stories. It’s a concept that the supermodel felt compelled to launch after her TED Talk, “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model,” went viral.
In the talk, Russell shared her surprise at how often young girls want to know how they too could be models. “Why?” Russell asked on-stage, “You can be anything. You could be the President of the United States, or the inventor of the next Internet, or a ninja cardio-thoracic surgeon poet, which would be awesome, because you’d be the first one.” In her talk, Russell stressed that modeling is not a sustainable career path. “You don’t have any creative control,” she said.
As Russell hopped off the stage, she started cooking up an idea: to create her own magazine.
“I’m totally fascinated by undervalued leaders and experts,” says Russell, “Why does our media ignore them, why does our electoral system ignore them? I wanted to build a sustainable platform for them—be it a magazine, a media outlet or a physical space, a network. I think there are a lot of different iterations.”
In addition to running this ambitious, big-vision magazine, Russell is still modeling. “In the last two years I’ve been more successful as a model than I ever have been,” says Russell. “Eleven years of it later, I’m still trying to find how it’s useful.”
When she started modeling, Russell assumed that the job would phase out after college—she thought it would be something with a definitive expiration date. But while it’s never what she imagined doing for her career, she maintains that it has been useful for giving her access to experiences, and that it has financially helped her get an education and start projects like Interrupt. In the end, she’s embraced it as a part of her identity.