There’s no point in hiding our major fangirl crush on iconic Supermodel Niki Taylor who we had the chance to chat with exclusively about an important campaign she is the spokesperson for. For those of you who are 90’s kids, you would’ve grown up seeing this beautiful face on the cover of just about every fashion magazine: Vogue, Elle, Allure, Marie Claire and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. That list doesn’t include her work for brands such as Pantene, Covergirl, Liz Claiborne, Nokia, L’Oreal and Gap just to name a few.
Aside from her immense success as a model (which kicked off in her teens, made her a young millionaire, and is still continuing today as a 41-year-old mother of four, nbd…) Niki has also endured some pretty major life-changing experiences. Many of us remember the tragic news of her younger sister Krissy (also a model) who died in 1995 from an undiagnosed heart condition. She was only 17.
Following that, Niki struggled with a substance abuse to deal with the pain.
“I wanted to be numb, and chose prescription drugs. That was my choice in not wanting to deal with losing my best friend,” she told the Oprah Winfrey Network in an interview from 2014.
But it was her own brush with death that really change the course of Niki’s perspective on life forever. In 2001 she was in a near-fatal car crash with a then-boyfriend.
“We turned onto an ordinary street. We hit a utility pole and the seat belt tore my liver in half. If I had been sitting…in a different position, maybe the outcome would have been different. But for some reason I was supposed to go through that and be in the hospital for three months – be in a coma, die on the operating table twice. It was definitely a miracle that I survived,” she said.
Niki ended up having over 40 operations but one of the huge aspects of this story that ultimately saved her life, was the 100+ units of blood she received. If it weren’t for the generous act of people donating blood to blood banks like the Red Cross, Niki may not have been able to survive her ordeal. Thankfully, she is here today which is why the campaign she is promoting is so important.
Nexcare Bandages and The American Red Cross have joined forces for the 8th annual Nexcare Give Campaign to encourage people around the world about the importance of donating blood. It kicks off on June 14, which is also World Blood Donor Day. This is something we have all heard about, on TV commercials, radio ads, and in our communities, but when you hear incredible personal stories like Niki’s, all of a sudden there is a human face attached to this simple act which can save a life.
“I owe my life to my donors. Every day I see the scars of my accident and remember what they did for me,” she told us in an interview over the phone. The timing of this campaign is very strategic, and for an important reason even we had no idea about.
“Summer is a critical time for donating blood. There is a lot of shortage due to people going away on vacation, but it is also the time when accidents increase and people still need blood,” she explained.
In 2015, the National Safety Council reported that the US saw an increase in traffic-related accidents, injuries and fatalities, the deadliest year since 2007. Over 38,000 people were killed during the year, and roughly 4.4 million injured, it stated. Every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood, and there is no substitute for it other than another human giving their own.
“Through the Nexcare Give program, we aim to increase awareness around a seemingly small act that can make an unbelievable difference. Just one donation can help save the lives of up to three people, and we hope donors will wear their Nexcare Give bandages as a symbol of the significant impact they made,” said Tara Menzies, Global Business Manager, Nexcare Brand in a press release.
As part of her remarkable recovery journey, Niki had the chance to meeting 15 of her donors at one point, which you can see in the OWN video below.
“It was an incredible moment! These were people from all different walks of life, all different backgrounds, nationalities, and they donated blood to keep me alive. It was surreal to stand next to the people whose blood was in my body, giving me life,” Niki told us about that day.
Now that she is well and truly on the other side of that experience, Niki says it has taught her to take better care of herself, and how important it is to have a support system around her. Today, she lives in Tennessee with her husband and four children, but she is not resting on her laurels when it comes to being a powerful voice in the world advocating the cause close to her heart – literally!
“We never think about bad situations until they happen to us. My parents were from the generation who always gave blood. My dad had a rare blood type so it was important for both of him especially to do this as centers are always looking for people like him. Thank God my parent and others like them in the world understand how valuable it is,” she said.
“Every day 41,000 blood donations are needed nationwide, making eligible donors invaluable to our efforts to help patients, as well as educate others on the importance of donation. Throughout the year, and especially during [summer], we encourage donors to give blood as often as possible, and share their meaningful experiences to motivate others to do the same,” said Darren Irby, executive director, marketing, American Red Cross.
Niki’s advocacy is her way of using here celebrity platform as a form of currency to help other people in the world.
“For me, it’s personal. I lost a lot of blood and wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for donors,” she said. It was the simple act that saved her life (over 100 units, precisely), but it is the type of act nearly everyone can do in order to help save someone’s life.
“Supporting blood donation is a fundamental way that anyone can make a powerful difference. Nearly 5 million Americans require a blood transfusion each year, so the need is great and the impact can be life-changing,” said Christine Zambricki from the America’s Blood Centers.
Of course there are some restrictions on who is eligible to give blood, and you can find more information about that on the American Red Cross site.
Today Niki is able to continue her successful fashion career, for which she says she is incredibly “blessed”.
“Starting out at such a young age made me grow up really fast, and although the industry is very different today, I am grateful that at 41 I am still working and I also get to enjoy life with my kids and family,” she said.
We asked her the question we like to ask all our interviewees: “what makes you a powerful woman?” and her poignant answer gives a subtle nod to everything she has endured and triumphed over.
“I would say knowing that the best years are ahead of you.”
Everyone deserves to feel that way about life, and if we want help making that a reality, blood donation is a simple way to make that happen. To find out more about the Nexcare Give Campaign and get information on how to donate blood, click here.
Watch the interview with Niki Taylor from, OWN’s ‘Where Are They Now’ series here: