CarrÃ© Otis is our March 2018 Model of the Month. In the late 80s and early 90s, she was one of the most sought-after models by photographers, fashion designers and magazines. A native of Northern California, she first achieved fame when she appeared on the cover of Elle France in April 1986.
Following that she shot to fame and went on to appear on the covers of Vogue (USA, France, Great Britain, Italy), Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She also appeared in advertisements for Calvin Klein, Revlon, Donna Karan and Guess and in the pages of Playboy and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and the Pirelli Calendar. Over the course of her modelling career, she has worked with the likes of several great photographers of the past half-century including Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh and Patrick Demarchelier.
In 2011 she published Beauty Disrupted, an inspiring and personal memoir in which she detailed the triumphs and challenges of her career in modelling, her rise to fame and her unique insight into the business of beauty and the high price it demands by giving an honest account of her struggle with love, identity and spirituality.
In 2012, she returned to the catwalk for Elena MirÃ² autumn-winter 2012-13 show in Milan. CarrÃ© is on the advisory board of the Model Alliance, a non-profit industry group working to establish fair labour standards for models in the U.S. and is also an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association.
She was previously married to Mickey Rourke, whom she met on the set of Wild Orchid. Otis lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Matthew Sutton, an environmental researcher, and two daughters, Jade and Kaya.
In an exclusive interview with us the model, actress and beauty icon talks about her life as a model in the '90s, the power of positivity and her future goals.
Did you already have thoughts about becoming a fashion model before being discovered in San Francisco? Who or what inspired you to become a model? How did you get started in the modeling business?
Modeling was a path forward for me. I didn't have many options at the time. It was a means to survive. I had an interview with an SF agent and was quickly sent to NYC.
Looking back at the beginnings of your career: What was your favorite or most exciting aspect of being a model?
How would you describe yourself in a few words and what would you consider your main strengths?
Compassionate. Strong willed. Determined. Motivated.
What is the most pressurizing aspect of the world of modeling?
Its focus on the physical and an ideal of perfection that doesn't exist.
Do you think the role of supermodel has changed over the last 20 years?
Hopefully, its workers are more of a voice now than just a face. But not everyone exercises this.
It seems that today, models are given more of a voice especially through social media rather than just being the image of a brand. Do you agree?
What's the funniest thing that happened to you on a photo shoot or fashion show?
I am notorious for getting uncontrollable giggles. Hard to recover sometimes. One of my daughters is the exact same.
What were some of your favorite experiences in modeling?
Travel. Working with artists and create incredible art.
What are some of your greatest memories from the 90's?
The 90's were a train wreck for me! I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. It was more challenging than great memories!
What else was happening in your life during that time?
In Paris, I was bit in the face by a dog. My career was put on hold. It was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the opportunity to escape a lecherous agent.
If you could turn back time would you do anything differently?
I would not have filmed Wild Orchid. But thatâ€™s about it.
What would you say defines this period of your life and career?
It is defined by my spiritual path. My activism. My family. My care for humanity and this planet.
How do you feel fashion has empowered you?
I don't necessarily. There are many things that have empowered me, but I feel that fashion is a luxury. Of which many on this planet cannot afford.
1990s nostalgia is back in a big way, why do you think that the 90s remain so influential?
Everything from the past comes back around. I have seen the cycle before!
What made you want to quit the modelling business at the height of your career?
I never really quit just reprioritized. Becoming a mother was a game changer.
At the point when many women with your experience might pivot away from the camera, you are bold enough to step in front of it. What made you want to return to modelling after all these years?
I believe that all aspects and demographics of humanity, especially women, should be justly represented in the media. Our industry should honor that. When I was deemed 'plus size' I didn't just disappear. I stepped forward to represent that woman. Now I am silver-haired, turning fifty and rocking it. Why not step out and represent the beauty of this age?
Who is your favorite photographer? Why?
Probably Herb Ritts. He had a way about him. Creating a feeling on set, always with a likeminded team. He photographed the feminine and nature in such a way that exhibited the relationship between the two. Such an artist. So talented.
What was the hardest photo shoot for you, and why?
Probably any of the shoots where it was cold, and I had to be in summer clothes. Those were challenging. Then again, as remarkable as Kevin Aucoinâ€™s makeup was, I hated to be under that mask! May he rest in peace!
Do you see significant similarities between acting and modeling? If so, which ones?
Not really. Itâ€™s a different skill set.
Would you ever return to Hollywood? If so, under which conditions?
Never say never but itâ€™s not anything I am driven to manifest. My life is full and busy.
Which change in the filmmaking-industry would you like to happen within the next few years?
Laws in place to adequately protect its workforce against sexual harassment, sexual assault, as well as discrimination.
Who are your favorite fashion designers?
Donna Karan, Calvin, the classics.
My Rag and Bone
What era would you like to bring back?
Nothing like the present moment!
Who is your style icon?
Style is so personal. Constantly changing. I don't really have one!
Your favorite store?
Any local Boutique type store. I support LOCAL! I don't like the massive shopping experience. Too impersonal.
What was your style back in the 90's?
I am not sure if I really had my own! I felt like a puppet to so many folks.
What do you wear today?
Practical with a small heal. Jeans and my pearls.
What are your best beauty secrets?
Sleep! A gallon of Water daily. And Skin Ceuticals products!
Do you have any beauty / skin care tips or tricks to look fresh and rested for early morning photo shoots?
Not at my age! I hope for the best come mornings. No, in all seriousness the days where I used to stay out all night and go to work and look great are gone! I have to treat myself well. And I do.
Do you believe in homemade recipes? Do you have one to share with us?
I believe in nutrition. I believe we are what we eat. I know there are many homemade recipes for masks and blemishes but none that I use.
How much attention do you pay to meditation & exercise, or is it all natural? How do you stay in shape?
I have been a practicing Buddhist for thirty years. Meditation can happen on a cushion as well as mindfulness out in the world. It is my yoga practice. Itâ€™s a daily for me. And I do exercise. Hiking, yoga, Pilates, bicycling.
Favorite kind of food:
I am vegetarian. There are such incredible vegetarian options today! So, I have to say as long as the menu has vegetables on it I feel grateful.
When models say they eat healthy, what do they mean by that?
It depends who you are asking. Thatâ€™s a vague question!
How would you describe yourself as a human being in three words?
Compassionate. Honest. Present.
Whatâ€™s controversial or unique about you?
"I have always been outspoken. Even when it made me unpopular. I am definitely a seeker of truth and justice."
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
I have superpowers! At least my children think I do. I don't tell them otherwise.
What are your favorite things to do in your free time?
Experience indigenous cultures. Learn about ancient civilizations and their healing modalities. Gather with my dear spiritual tribe. Be present with my children. Hold hands with my husband. Help others.
Do you have a mentor? Who? What is it about them that affects you? Why?
Lama Tsultrim Allione. I have known her since I was 17. She was one of the first western women to take her robes as a Tibetan Buddhist Nun. She is no longer a nun but an incredible teacher and friend. She has had a profound influence on my life and how I live it today.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? What could be your next career?
I think there is one more book in me. And I am creating www.thebluelotusfoundation.org. I want to continue educating people about eating disorders. I believe not enough focus is going into preventative measures. I believe in the benefits of talking to youth and empowering them. As well as talking to the adults that are around children. Everything we do and say plants a seed in our childrenâ€™s mind. Which can either ripen into an empowered relationship with themselves or a fractured one. I suffered far too long with my eating disorder. I would like to prevent others from going down that path.
Which is your preferred social media website?
How would you describe your use of social media?
InstagramTo be a voice for education and activism
What are your views on social media? Do you think it is a good way to control your image?
It can be a powerful platform for change and awareness. It can also be misused.
Favorite kind of music?
The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved by the Western Woman"
I'd like to meet â€¦
In my heart. It comes from my humility. My gratitude.
People have said I look like
Cersei from Game of Thrones.
Thank you Carre for this great interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Interviewed by Reimund Homann and edited by Clinton Gonsalvez