Niki Taylor on Tragedy and Appreciating Life

Aside from being a popular model, Taylor is the picture-perfect role model for having the strength to overcome any obstacle life throws at her. We sat down with her at Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Manhattan location for this heartfelt interview

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
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More: If I played the word-association game with folks and said your name, most people would say supermodel.
Niki Taylor: How about supermom?

More: Is the life of a supermodel picture-perfect?
NT: No, it is not. At the end of the day, the heels come off, and so does the makeup. At my house, I am simply Mom and Burney’s [husband Burney Lamar] wife. I live in Nashville, where it is laid back and no one gets dressed up. I mean, I drop the kids off at school in workout clothes or in jeans and a T-shirt.

More: Nashville? Why there?
NT: I fell in love with the city and its wonderful schools. Not only is it easy to get to New York, where I travel for work, but it is also close to Los Angeles.

More: Do your older boys [twins Jake and Hunter with ex-husband Matt Martinez] get who Mommy is and what she does?
NT: They do, and they are so used to it. They have gone on so many photo shoots and have seen what I do. If you ask my daughter, she thinks I say cheese for a living.

More: Another word I associate with your name: survivor.
NT: I could not have done it without prayer and a good support system. I have an amazing family and amazing friends. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know what I would have done.

More: You lost your sister Krissy when she was only 17 years old.
NT: There is no getting over this. I think about her every day and have pictures of her all over my house. She is still a big part of me. I will never get over losing her. I also think of my mom and dad and say to myself, “I can’t imagine losing a kid.” When you lose a sibling and best friend like I did, I still say to myself, Who can I call when I need this? or Who is going to go to the mall with me? She was my bestie . . .

More: Is this still hard for you to talk about?
NT: I know it has been 15 years, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. However, I know I will see her again.

More: You were also the victim of a horrific car accident in 2001.
NT: Oh, my car accident. Yes, that one I needed a lot of prayers. I mean, if I didn’t survive that, I can’t imagine my parents having to go through the pain of losing two children.

More: You survived that accident, which some say was a miracle.
NT: I had a liver laceration, and when you have that, they give you a 10 percent chance of surviving. The Red Cross gave me over 100 units of blood. I remember the surgeon telling me they held my liver in both of their hands. Not only did I flatline twice, but they kept me open so much because it was just surgery after surgery after surgery. My lungs collapsed. The doctors even called my parents to tell them to make arrangements because I wasn’t supposed to make it through the night. I truly believe it was spiritual that I am alive.

More: Given what you went through, do you see things differently?
NT: I see everything differently. I think I might be a bit more of a daredevil now because I have gotten over my fear of doing things. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is don’t take anything for granted and don’t waste one second of a day being sad.

More: Were you scared to get back in a car?
NT: Yes, because most people who went through what I did don’t make it.

More: Your older boys, who are now 18, were so young when this happened.
NT: Yes. They were only six years old at the time. I couldn’t see them for almost three weeks because I was in the ICU where and children are not allowed inside. But thank God for my mom, who blew up all of these photos of them and other family members and stuck them to the ceiling.

More: Luckily you are here, healthy and now the mother of four children.
NT: Yeah. The twins are 18, Ciel is three, and Rex is going to be one. My boys are adults now. They are seniors in high school, driving and getting ready to go to college.

More: Because of your past, were you frightened to let them get behind the wheel?
NT: I was more scared about the kids who were driving them.

More: You also had to blend your family. Describe the transition.
NT: The twins were 11 years old when Burney came into the picture. For a long time it was the three of us against the world. Luckily for me, when Burney came in, he fit in with the boys right away. For me, it was easy to blend my family.

More: You mentioned this bond with your older boys. Do you walk the line between being their mom and their buddy?
NT: It was the three of us for a long time, and, yes, we like the same music and some TV shows. But I am their mom, and I do have to say no to things like a trip. I have also had to have the talk about drugs and sex, but they have always been open with me. I mean, we grew up together, because I was only 19 years old when I had them.

More: Besides your camera work, you are teaming up with Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions.
NT: I have to confess, I really love what this all-natural product does for my hair, skin and nails. I mean, they took a beating once I had my four children. After four pregnancies, my hair started falling out and my skin wasn’t the same. Now my nails and skin are super strong.

More: Good to know.
NT: I also love how this product was created by women, which is something that was very important to me.

More: What are the benefits for women over 35?
NT: In just three months, my hair grew three inches. Plus, if you are a woman in your thirties and forties, there is a calcium bone health and vitamin D pill, which women in this age group need.

More: You are now 37 years old. What are the advantages of climbing the age ladder?
NT: I could not wait to get out of my twenties. My twenties were horrible. I had a great career, but I went through a lot of stuff. I feel like my life really started when I got into my thirties. I have learned how to embrace every year, and I am excited for 40. I don’t want to go back. If anything, I want to keep going forward.

More: You have not stopped smiling during this interview. How do you find so much happiness given all the tragedy you have experienced?
NT: I don’t even like that word. My friends and family tell me to snap out of it. I mean, we live here in the United States and are sitting here in beautiful Manhattan. Going to Starbucks is a blessing. I have a roof over my head, I have my family, I get to work out, and I have beautiful children.

More: Point well made.
NT: I even gave my buddy Trace Atkins, who is raising money for the Red Cross on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, a check because of what that organization did for me. It is all of these little blessings that keep me happy and focused on what is important.

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First Published Sun, 2012-11-04 20:27

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