From New York City, Claudia Mason is a world-renowned supermodel, actress, producer, author, speaker, activist, and life empowerment expert. Claudia, a stroke survivor, is the spokesperson for the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association as she works to spread awareness in stroke prevention. She is the author of Finding the Supermodel in You, The Insider’s Guide to Teen Modeling, which helps young people and their parents navigate the entertainment industry. Throughout her modeling career, Claudia worked with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein. She has been featured in Vogue, W, Mademoiselle, Elle, Cosmopolitan and many other magazines. We sat down with Claudia to discuss her background, her favorite memories working in the entertainment industry, her inspiration behind her book, her mission as a spokesperson, and how she uses her platform to spread stroke awareness.
Where are you from? How did you get involved in the modeling industry?
I am from Manhattan. I was discovered in a music store when I was 13 years old. The rest, as they say, is history.
How did you get involved in the modeling industry? What are some of your favorite memories as a model?
I was discovered in a music store when I was 13 years old. The rest, as they say, is history.
All the traveling – that is one of the best parts of the job: working with Mario Testino in Egypt for Vogue; shooting the Jimmy’Z campaign on the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii; shooting the Fendi campaign with Karl Lagerfeld in Monaco, among many others. Also, I loved filming acting roles in movies such as Outpatient, and performing onstage in Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending, which I also executive produced.
How do you think the modeling industry has evolved since your involvement?
The online component changed everything – the business multiplied within a short amount of time. Digital photography also brought sweeping changes to our industry. Social media has truly changed the direction of this industry in terms of how models aren’t just seen as muses now but as marketing partners as I discuss in my book, Finding The Supermodel In You (available to purchase on Amazon).
What made you want to write your book Finding the Supermodel in You, and what do you think is the take home message for anybody that reads this book?
I was inspired to write my book since there are so many young people and their parents who are clueless about the inner workings of the entertainment industry at large, in which modeling is just one branch of that tree. I want to help people know what it really takes for a young person to survive and thrive in this ever-changing business, to be equipped by guarding themselves from the inside first and foremost. “It’s an inside job,” as I so often say; self-confidence, self-esteem, being grounded in who you are is first and foremost. My book delivers everything the would-be initiate needs to know in order to avoid the potential pitfalls of this industry, of which there are many. The book is also perfect for anyone, no matter what age, gender or career path, since it helps remind one of great spiritual, inner-life principles that allow anyone to maintain wellness and success throughout life. All from my experience and expertise in the spotlight.
What made you decide to become a motivational speaker, and what does resilience mean to you?
Life is about paying it forward: giving back and being of service; what that actually means to each individual and how that is expressed varies tremendously. For me, I have much to offer in terms of inspiring people to live their best lives, especially after a setback. When you have fame in the entertainment industry like I do, you have gone through so many difficulties to get to where you are and very often these are never seen by the public and so often there is this illusion that show business is all glamour, money, and fame, and nothing could be further from the truth. I am also a stroke thriver, which means I have come out of a health crisis and I’m better than I was before the stroke.
Life is complex, beautiful, difficult and always presenting us with the possibility for positive change, as long as our perspective is clear, coming from the Good, and lining up with the moral compass we were all naturally born with. Resilience is one of my main themes as a speaker – it is what keeps me bouncing back throughout all the difficulties that life can throw our way. It is what makes someone either stand back up after she’s been knocked down, or what keeps her down. Do not be kept down, rise always.
How do you use your platform to raise awareness/spread the word about stroke prevention?
I’m a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, and I incorporate my knowledge of stroke prevention and warning signs into so much of what I do, whether it’s a lecture, an interview, a post. I like to discuss the instrumental role that stress plays in injuries, diseases and the like, and how we can shift our perception to that of abundance, peace, joy, health, and watch as most difficulties in our life slowly melt away. It takes great discipline and perseverance to live a life aligned with one’s inner-guide. Fortunately everyone is equipped for this kind of life, but each individual must choose it.
What is your mission for stroke awareness and prevention?
To help stop preventable strokes from happening; to educate the public on the facts about strokes and to show that I too am a face of stroke. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
How big of a role does mental health play in your life? What are some activities you do to maintain a positive mental health?
Mental and emotional health are key components of wellness and beauty. If I am not feeling good on the inside, it will show on the outside. I practice yoga; do Transcendental Meditation; get out in nature as much as possible; eat healthy nutritious food; smile as much as possible; live with an attitude of gratitude each and every day.
What does it mean for you to be powerful?
It means to practice an appreciation for all that I have been given. It means to give back to others in whatever way I can. It means to be responsible a la “with great power comes great responsibility”. To practice humility, kindness, courage, empathy – these are all aspects of what it truly means to be powerful.
What empowers you as a woman?
Honoring myself; my need for quiet time away from my boyfriend, my friends, my work in order to recharge. To remember that women are equal to men and that while the differences are beautiful, they don’t mean that one sex is superior to the other. In order for the world to move forward and survive, we must recognize the important role that women play in society, culture, community, politics as that of equal status to men.
To learn more about Claudia, check out her website www.claudiamason.com