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Cindy Crawford on Modeling Advice to Her Teenage Daughter and How Oprah Influenced Her New Book

Cindy Crawford signing copies of <i>Becoming</i> at Books & Books Bal Harbour
Cindy Crawford signing copies of Becoming at Books & Books Bal Harbour

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What do you do when you're one of the biggest supermodels in the world, you're celebrating the big 5-0, and you're basically ageless? If you're Cindy Crawford, you come out with a page-turning book of jaw-dropping photos to prove it. The best part about this iconic supermodel isn't her looks; it's her down to earth, girl next door personality! Okay, maybe it's her looks a little...

The business woman, wife, and momma of two picked Miami to celebrate the release of her autobiography, Becoming, which documents her show-stopping life and career through a series of 50 iconic photographs and essays. She hopped from Books and Books at Bal Harbour to an afterparty at 1 Hotel South Beach, and in the midst of it all we sat down with her to chat all things modeling, Miami in the 90s, and Oprah's hand in writing her book.

So how does a small town girl from Illinois get to become the biggest supermodel in the world?

Well, for that you'll have to read the book! It certainly wasn't an overnight success type of thing, and in the book I do chronicle all the little steps that I made, that ended me up in New York. So many things in life are about being in the right place at the right time. A lot of it is luck, or whatever you want to call it. But one of the things [that helped] was that so many photographers loved Gia Carangi, a model who I don't think had passed away, but wasn't in New York anymore. When I came to New York, some people thought I looked like a baby Gia, so because of her I was able to get in to see some of the biggest photographers right away. I always kind of feel like I owe a lot to Gia. People loved the way she looked so much, I reminded people of her, and that was like an opening. That was like a foot in the door for me.

And you are letting people into your life. In the book you share all these amazing photographs from your career. Why now, in this stage in your life, did you want to put that out?

You know, I had [lead] Oprah's Master Class. The idea is that you are doing it [to teach] life lessons to other people but it ends up being a huge life lesson for you. When I originally got asked to [be on the show] I was like, what am I going to say? Maya Angelou has done it. How can I have something to offer at her level? And [the audience does] such a great job of asking really good questions so after the interview I felt like, I actually had learned a thing or two that's worth sharing.

I think doing that show really prepared me and, knowing that my 50th birthday was on the horizon, I started this book a couple of years ago. It was like I'm either going to dread that, I'm either going to be crying in my room, or how do I embrace that? How do I celebrate where I've been, but also what I've learned along the way to become the woman that I am today? I'm not the 25 year old that was posing in Playboy. I have other things to offer now. It was really a gift to myself, taking the time to reflect back but also taking the time to let those lessons gel.

I like that you talk about all the aspects of your life and one of them is motherhood. Your daughter now wants to go into the modeling world. As a mother and as a model, what piece of advice do you have for her as she navigates these waters?

She will still listen to me about these things because she knows that I know what I'm talking about. But really my advice to her is no different from the advice I gave my son when he started his job at a juice store, which is to show up on time, be prepared, be professional, pay attention, work hard. Those things– and that I probably got them from my midwestern upbringing– are applicable in any job that you do and so I tell her the same thing. As a model what I say to her is that if you're working with a certain photographer, take the time to look online, see what kind of pictures they do, so when you get to set you're not surprised and you can already know what language you're talking about. But the actual experience of modeling she's going to have to figure out by herself. She might be a completely different, she's a dancer for instance, she might be able to move in ways that I wasn't able to move. She will find out herself if she can do that. But the work ethic is something I want to instill in her.

Miami in the 90's as a supermodel. Tell us!

We were down here all the time shooting. The hotels definitely weren't as nice as this hotel. They were funky, but there was something really cool about being in Miami back then. It was just starting. It was just exploding and, by the way, it's still exploding. I don't think it's stopped since then.

What do you and your husband like to do when you come down here? Where do you hang out?

Our favorite thing to do is just walk. Walk on the beach, walk on the boardwalk. Go in the ocean. Try a new restaurant. Get a little sun, and visit my mother-in-law! She lives down here.