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Cindy Crawford on her new movie, her favorite Omega watches & turning 50

Supermodel Cindy Crawford has been an Omega brand ambassador for 20 years: “It’s a partnership that has lasted longer than most marriages,” she says.

Cindy Crawford fans might remember her movie debut in 1995’s Fair Game, where she garnered less-than-glowing reviews playing a divorce attorney on the run opposite Billy Baldwin.

Twenty years later, the supermodel’s latest cinematic turn is touching audiences, moving them to tears and earning her a level of acclaim she probably never thought she’d see 20 years ago.

Crawford, now 49, narrates and stars in the Omega-Orbis documentary The Hospital in the Sky, where the super undertakes the role she’s most comfortable in — playing herself, mother to a gorgeous 13-year-old who could be her clone, and an Omega ambassador traveling to Peru to witness the Swiss watch brand’s corporate social responsibility in action.

Omega provides funding for Orbis, an international NGO composed of eye doctors and medical professionals who volunteer their services in Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital — a specially outfitted DC-10 that can fly to the most remote countries around the world — to perform surgeries, train local doctors, and save the sight of millions of children and the elderly.

In The Hospital in the Sky you see Crawford and her lookalike daughter Kaia arrive in Trujillo, a far-flung city on the northwest coast of Peru. In a local hospital they mingle with the young patients Orbis has chosen as the best candidates for eye surgery.

“I didn’t even know that much about Orbis,” Crawford admits, “but I know Omega and everywhere they’ve taken me in the world, it’s always been a great experience,” she says. “This was a little bit different because it was a pure charity mission and doing a documentary, which we haven’t done before.”

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The supermodel admitted that Peru’s initial lure for her was the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, but that quickly changed: “We started our trip and did the tourist part, then we went to Trujillo,” she said. “My expectations were that Machu Picchu was going to be the highlight, and then I would do the Trujillo part, which would be interesting. But after doing the trip, really the highlight was the Orbis part because it’s such a unique opportunity to be able to see what Orbis does firsthand but also interact with local people in a real way.”

Crawford even watches an eye operation performed on a little girl in the Flying Eye Hospital, where she has to excuse herself at one point when the graphic surgical procedure makes her queasy.

A few days later as the young patient is being examined, when she finally manages to open her eyes the first thing she sees is Crawford, and she immediately extends her hand to the supermodel, who is visibly moved and fighting back tears as she takes the little girl’s hand in hers.

“That was the highlight of the whole trip,” Crawford says, “because it was so real. Especially with kids, you can’t make them have that connection. The only reason she cared about me was because I cared about her the day before: Kaia and I were playing and singing with her. I get chills now thinking about it, that was my ‘aha’ moment.”

A day after The Hospital in the Sky premiere in Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (once the site of the old airport), we had a chance to sit down with the supermodel, who is a very candid and down-to-earth in person, with a quick wit and ready sense of humor. She of the famous mole also dresses simply and unpretentiously, choosing a couple of off-white ensembles that set off her tawny skin for this Hong Kong trip, from a sleeveless tuxedo jumpsuit for the premiere to a silky-sheer military-style blouse today, tucked into a button-down skirt. Her jewelry is equally understated: a tear-shaped pendant necklace paved in tiny diamonds, an ultra-thin diamond wedding band, and an Omega Constellation on her wrist, also twinkling with tiny diamonds. Shod in strappy camel stilettos, her nails are buffed and polished in nude shades, leading me to think of her as “Cindy Crawford, natural woman.”

PHILIPPINE STAR: How many Omega watches do you own?

Oh, man. I’d say probably around 10.

Which are your favorites to wear?

It’s like, who’s your favorite child? (laughter) It just depends what I’m wearing and what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I like a chunkier, heavier men’s watch; sometimes I like the Constellation, even the older ones that are smaller, because it’s like a piece of jewelry. So I really switch it up. And even more so now: we don’t really need a watch anymore because we all know what time it is, even more so, I think watches are more about the fashion statement and the emotional, “How does it make you feel to wear that watch?” and so I kind of go by that. Like, a white watch for me feels very summery and light, I have my watches if I’m going to a business meeting, it just kind of… it’s another accessory.

You brought Kaia along on this trip. What sort of values and advice have you received that you pass on now to your daughter and women in general?

My mother I’m really close to, and I think she’s my biggest teacher. Things that I learned from her are not the things that she taught me per se, it just who she is, and my kids are the same way. If I try to tell them something it’s like (squawks) but if they see me acting in certain ways, they learn by example. And so from my own mother what I learned is unconditional love. Just because she made all of her children feel that way. And I hope my children feel that as well, especially because in some ways they’re so fortunate, they have this incredibly blessed life. But to be able to expose them to something like this Orbis trip is them understanding that with all the blessings comes responsibility. I don’t know if that applies to what I want to teach the world or other women, I just think the only thing you can change is yourself, right? And hopefully you’re either a role model, starting with your own children, or not, but you define who you are.

You were talking about how you wanted to involve them more in charity work. Any plans in the near future of bringing your son (Presley) along?

I talked to him last night. My daughter’s more… they’re different, you know, like kids are. And they’re hard trips, like going to Peru, even coming here, it’s a long flight, you’re jetlagged, it’s good for them to see that I actually work hard for my job. And I knew my daughter could handle it. She’s not squeamish, like I tell the story when we took our children on safari a few years ago. And we were in the Masai village, and they do that thing where they stick that thing in the cow’s neck and there was blood, and it was so hot, there are flies, and my daughter was, like, holding babies and handing out little candies, and my son passed out. (Laughter) So they’re just different. And I knew my daughter would be able to handle the Peru trip. I think my son, because he saw the outcome, he’s more inclined to want to do it now. But he’s his own guy, like he’s a surfer, so he might find that his charity is about the oceans, or the environment, and just being an example myself of things that speak to me, and that I care about, then they know that if there’s something they care about, they can get involved and become an activist.

Did you learn something new about yourself during this trip?

 

 

It’s funny. As a kid I was a good student, so certainly “doctor” was one of those things I thought about, like “I could be a doctor,” and after watching that eye surgery, I’m not sure. (Laughter). I didn’t think I was squeamish, but at one point I was like, “Whoa, that’s intense.”

You mentioned that you joined a leukemia organization, and now Orbis. What motivated you to join?

Well, leukemia was because my brother died when he was 10, so seeing my mother use her sense of loss to then raise money and do something good — that was very powerful to my 11-year-old brain. And then when I was able to do it myself and raise money on my own, when I became famous and had money, that felt good. Sometimes I think charity is more meaningful if you have a connection. So for me to give money to the hospital where my brother was treated, it’s easy. I saw the work they did, I experienced it firsthand. And for anybody, for charity, find something that resonates with you. We all know someone who had cancer or a child that has a learning disability or the environment. Whatever it is, there are more than enough charities to go around, and if you can find something that speaks to you, then it’s easy to give the money, or show up, or work hard — whatever they ask of you.

What was the most memorable part of your trip to Peru?

Every single thing was interesting and fun, but as I’ve gotten older I’m a better traveler. When I was younger and working so much every day and traveling all the time, it was just like in and out. But even here we came a day early, I wanted to show my kids around. We’re going to India tonight, we’re staying an extra day; we’re doing a slum tour there. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to India, so I want to have an experience everywhere. You don’t need a week. Do one museum, or one cultural thing. Even when we went to Beijing with Omega, the kids remember getting their pedicures with the little fish. And they remember seeing the pandas. Those are the things that stick in your mind. Otherwise I could be in a hotel only and this room, and that’s not seeing Hong Kong. Even though it was really hot walking around yesterday, I’m glad we did it. And they said it gets hotter! I’m so happy I live in LA.

You’re releasing a book soon, Becoming. What’s it about and what are your future plans?

That’s my main thing. I have my skincare line (Meaningful Beauty), but definitely the book has been taking up a lot of time and energy. It’s coming out the end of September, so I’ll be promoting that at the end of the year. I’m excited because it’s really hard to do a book, it’s takes a long time, much more than I was aware, but it’s a real — it’s not the end. As I say in the book, it’s what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years but more importantly, what I learned from it and why it matters.

You’re reaching an important milestone next year, you’re turning 50. How do you feel about that and how do you maintain your looks and attitude?

I think doing the book was really how I’m dealing with it, because 50 is something you either run from and try to avoid but it comes anyway, or you realize that the alternative is not being here to celebrate 50, which is not something I’m interested in either. You have to do the work, do you know what I mean? I’m not 25, I don’t want to be 25, I wouldn’t mind looking 25, but that’s why taking stock of what you’ve learned is such an important part of aging gracefully, because it’s easier to accept when you realize the journey you’ve been on and hey, I’ve had great fun being Cindy Crawford, you know? That’s not going to stop, but it’s evolving and changing and that’s why I’m working with companies like Omega, who are allowing me to evolve and change and still it’s not just about, “Are you on the cover of Vogue and Sports Illustrated?” You’re a woman who has this brand and it’s a nice partnership. But look, I’m a woman too. I don’t like seeing wrinkles; it’s not fun.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Probably “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” I think I would probably have had a little more fun. But because when I moved to New York I was from a small town and I didn’t feel necessarily… after dinner I would go back to my room and read a book because I didn’t want to be in a situation that I didn’t understand, which probably is the reason why I’m known as such a professional and why my career went on so long, but in retrospect, I could have had a little more fun, yeah. I have fun now.

What is time?

Time is such a luxury. It’s the greatest luxury.

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In the Philippines, Omega watches are available at Omega boutiques in Greenbelt 5, Makati and Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong; Lucerne in Glorietta 4, Makati; Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong and Cebu in Paseo Marina, Cebu City; Chronos in SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, Alabang Town Center and Marquee Mall, Angeles City, Pampanga; and Le Temps in Newport City Mall, Pasay City.

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Follow me on Facebook (Therese Jamora-Garceau), Twitter @tjgarceau and Instagram @tj108_drummergirl.

 

 

 

 

 

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