Nigel Barker Biography

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Birth Name: Nigel Barker
Born: 04/27/1972
Birth Place: LondonUK

Born in London, England on April 27, 1972, Barker had five siblings. His father came from English and Portuguese decent, while his mother, Gillian Barker, was a former Miss Sri Lanka and model. As a child Barker attended the Bryanston School, an English boarding school, and studied biology and physics in hopes of becoming a doctor Contrasting DNA with design, Barker also studied fashion, pattern cutting and tailoring -- which he said caused teasing among all his friends. But the joke was on them, as it enabled him to spend time with the prettiest girls in school, while laying the groundwork for his future calling.

Sometime around 1989 or 1990, Barker's mom, who was obsessed with the British television show "The Clothes Show," entered him into the show's annual model search, where he ended up as one of the three finalists. After this success he decided to take a year off from school before going to university. But he never ended up going back, and instead launched an eight-year modeling career posing for the likes of Giorgio Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino and other top designers. While he still had modeling days ahead of him, he decided to make the switch from muse to creator.

After a decade in front of the camera, Barker decided to pursue photography full-time and quit modeling to open his own studio, Studio NB, in Manhattan's stylish Meat Packing District in 1996. He began shooting spreads for Paste Magazine, and soon was moving on to < i>GQ , as well as ad campaigns for Lexus, Ted Barker, Sony, and other name brands. He even shot Naomi Campbell as she was first entering the business. After falling in love with model and CoverGirl representative Christen Chin Barker, the two married in her hometown of Fairhope, Alabama in 1999.

As Barker's exposure from his photography increased, offers began rolling in quite quickly, leading to a call in 2004 from Tyra Banks's people for an opportunity to shoot "America's Next Top Model." Due to his portfolio and time as a model, he was soon promoted from a one-episode stint to judge -- his exotic good looks did not go unnoticed. The shift to reality television did not immediately endear him to the fashion industry, as he considered reality shows to be crass and "selling out." But 18 seasons, countless fashion reality show spin-offs and American Vogue's editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley sitting as a judge helped ease the transition.

Barker took his lens beyond the runway to grander horizons, taking on his first documentary, "A Sealed Fate?" (2009) which was released along with a set of photos for the Humane Society's campaign to showcase wild seals being exploited for their fur in the Canadian Arctic. Barker followed up the film with another documentary feature: "Haiti: Hunger and Hope" (2009), and later the film "Generation Free of HIV" (2009), about HIV and AIDS in Tanzania. This marked the beginning of his ongoing work as a humanitarian and documentary activist.

Over the next few years, Barker became a celebrity ambassador for both the Make a Wish Foundation and the Do Something organization, and became the only male champion for the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up initiative. Thankfully eschewing the reality-star path of tell-alls and cheap fragrances, Barker extended his brand and message through his first book, "Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation: Revealing a Better and More Beautiful You," in 2010. Unfortunately, he was unceremoniously canned from "America's Next Top Model" in 2012 due to the show's low ratings and an upcoming reboot, leaving him to navigate the unknown waters of post-reality fame.

Barker certainly survived his parting with The CW: he published his second book, "8 Hours Taylor Swift," in 2012, and released his fourth documentary centered once again on Haiti, "Dreams are Not Forgotten" (2012). After only a week-long hiatus from "Top Model," Barker received a call to host the new modeling show on Oxygen, "The Face (2013)," alongside supermodels Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha, and Karolina Kurkova. After surviving the Arctic, working with the notoriously difficult Campbell proved to be another successful step forward in Barker's career.