Niki Taylor on her near death experience and the rise of Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid

By Alexandra Hurtado

In the wake of the horrific shooting in Orlando, hundreds of individuals have lined up to donate blood for victims. The generosity of Americans coming out during National Blood Donor Week has particularly stricken a chord with ‘90s supermodel Niki Taylor, who like those injured in the June 12 attack found herself in dire need of blood donations in 2001 after a near-fatal car accident.

“I’m just grateful that people are getting out there and rolling up their sleeves and helping save lives,” the 41-year-old told HELLO!. Niki — who has since become involved with the American Red Cross and NexcareGive Campaign — credits blood transfusions with saving her own life after a car she was a passenger in struck a pole.

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Photo: Russ Harrington/Nexcare

She shared, “My liver was torn in half in the accident — I was bleeding internally so they had to cut me open right away and I was losing blood so much that they were giving me whatever blood type they did have on the shelves — I thank the donors.”

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Following her accident, the Nexcare Give spokeswoman was “always” left wondering whose blood she had received. Thanks to the blood donation’s process of tracking and logging, Niki was able to reach out to the very donors that saved her life. “They were like ‘What, who are we meeting, why?’ — I think that they had to tell a couple people. They’re like ‘Look Niki Taylor has always wanted to meet her blood donors.’ It was nice that they did come out so I could hug them,” she said. “I met about 15 of them and I got to hug them and thank them — [I] just thought it was so cool that I finally got to find out whose blood was inside me."

Photo: Russ Harrington/Nexcare

The near-death experience has shaped the model’s approach to life both on and off the runway. “I think you just take things a lot slower and of course you appreciate things. I mean I always appreciated stuff — no one is immune to life; everybody is going to go through something,” she admitted. “For me it was this accident, so I could share the importance of donating blood and [I’m] just grateful for other human beings. Blood can’t be reproduced. It can’t be made. Only a human can give it to another human being.”

The mom-of-four loves being 'a kid' with her children Photo: Instagram.com/nikitaylorinc

Likewise, Niki’s children — 21-year-old twin boys Hunter and Jake Martinez (from a previous marriage) and son Rex Lamar, four, and daughter Ciel Lamar, seven, whom she shares with husband Burney Lamar — have also been taught not to take life for granted. While the American beauty began her modeling career at an early age, she confessed that motherhood was never far from her mind. “I always wanted a family and wanted to have kids early,” Niki said. “I love being a kid, and I love my kids. They are everything.”

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Hunter already appears to be following in his mother’s footsteps when it comes to modeling. The proud mom revealed, “He is going this July to Men’s Fashion Week in New York where he is going to be walking the runway.” While he is the first of her children to express an interest in the industry, the mom-of-four said if the others wanted to follow suit she would "definitely stand by them.” The face of Talbots said, “It’s been such a great job for myself and it’s a great industry. You’re surrounded by amazing artists, and I love the fashion world. I’m still working which is kind of rare for a 41-year-old mama.”

@voguemagazine // May 1996 #NikiSix

A photo posted by Niki Taylor (@nikitaylorinc) on


However, Niki noted that the biggest difference with models today versus the '90s when she, Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer and Stephanie Seymour ruled the fashion scene is social media. "Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, they just know their fans and same as Karlie Kloss," the Nashville resident said. "They do it very very well. They have that great following and that’s where it’s all kind of gone to."

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She added, “I wish I had Instagram back in the ‘90s so I could do my own editorials, that would have been great. But yeah I love it. I love all of it.”

As for who her favorite “it model” is of the moment, Niki responded, “Definitely has to be Karlie. She reminds me a lot of me, the all-American girl — I think she represents such an amazing American girl.”

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