Cynthia Bailey, gracing the cover of a magazine, looks as gorgeous today as she did over 30 years ago. The supermodel-turned-reality star-turned-actress is living proof of her mantra that age doesn’t define beauty.
“Being 20 doesn’t mean you are more beautiful than a 50-year-old; it just means you are younger,” she states matter-of-factly.
Bailey’s career started when she was quite young. As a teenager in Alabama, she had chiseled cheekbones on a face that begged to be shot by international photographers, and a statuesque body made to walk Parisian runways. Bailey relocated from Alabama to New York, then Paris and Africa, and a star was born. Taking her Southern values with her on her jet-setting lifestyle was easy for Bailey, who grew up with a healthy sense of self and personal boundaries.
“Early on, the most challenging thing in my modeling career was probably being lonely a lot of the time. I moved to New York, and I didn’t know anyone there, and then within six months I was off to Paris, and I didn’t know anyone there, then Africa, so I learned early on to enjoy my own company,” Bailey shares. “If you can’t sit by yourself, you aren’t ready to sit with anyone else.”
Bailey’s time as a supermodel prepared her for the next chapter in life as a reality star on Bravo’s hit reality show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
“I went from being a very private person to being in a position that required me to share everything. At times, it could be challenging to find where my real life stopped and the show began. But it was a blessing, and being on ‘RHOA’ made me a household name. The show introduces you to an international audience in a way most people don’t comprehend. I remember going to Ghana, and these young women ran up to me and said, ’50 Cynt!’ They knew all my sayings from the show, and we were all the way in Africa. I think that’s when I first realized what an impact the show had. Being given such an opportunity and platform, I wanted to make sure I was being responsible with this opportunity and do something positive with it,” Bailey says. “I have to credit Peter Thomas [Bailey’s ex-husband] with encouraging me to do the show. At first, I was skeptical, but he encouraged me to do it, and it was the right decision.”
Using her platform wisely has included digging deep into her entrepreneurship bag and doing commercial deals aligning with her brand. Bailey is currently a spokesperson for Seagrams Escapes and recently added a new signature flavor, Berry Mimosa, to the collection. In addition to her flagship flavor, Peach Bellini, Seagrams extended the partnership and made Bailey a rep for the entire brand.
“Anything that has my name attached to it, I take seriously. I’m not just putting my likeness on something I’m not involved in fully. From the first flavor until now, I’ve been involved in every aspect, from the quality to the flavor to the marketing and packaging. So I feel a sense of pride when I see my picture on the side of the packaging,” Bailey says.
As Bailey prepares for her third act, which she has decided will be acting, she is ready to commit her all to the craft.
“Acting has always been something I was interested in. I did a few cameos when I was younger, but at the time, I was just getting into my groove with modeling and needed to focus on that. I did a cameo on ‘The Cosby Show’ and a movie with Sandra Bernhardt that was a lot of fun, but back then, my focus was on modeling. Being with someone like Leon [her daughter’s father], who is a true thespian, I knew if I ever wanted to do it, I’d have to commit my all,” she says.
At 56, Bailey says she is in a great space.
“I’m truly happy and at peace at this time in my life. I have been blessed to have love in my life from some amazing men. Anyone who contributed love to my life at any time, I’m thankful for. I will always believe in love and be open to it because that’s what makes life worth living,” Bailey shares. “I had someone on my team that tried to tell me to stop sharing my actual age, but that’s not me. When I look at pictures of myself now, I love the woman I see. She’s loved and lost and experienced so much life. I’m in great health, and I’m kicking a– at 56. I’m learning every day that it gets greater later.”
Photographer: J. Paschal Photography
Hair: Scott Spence Miller
Makeup: Tony Styles
Stylist: Ryan Christopher
Art director: Derek Blanks