The Unexpected Way Padma Lakshmi Got Into Modeling

Perhaps you know Padma Lakshmi from her role on "Top Chef" or as producer of the show "Taste the Nation." But Lakshmi has also worn other hats off the air, including human rights activist, advocate for endometriosis awareness, author, and — as she got her start in her career — as a model. 

When she was a college student, Lakshmi studied abroad in Spain, where one fateful night, she met a modeling scout in a bar. The rest, as they say, is history (via Screen Rant). According to an interview with Evening Standard Magazine, Lakshmi claimed to have been the first Indian model to work in New York, Milan, and Paris, modeling for brands like Ralph Lauren, Versace, and Armani. While her true passion was acting, modeling paid the bills. 

"Modeling was so lucrative that I would have been a fool to say, 'Oh no, I'm not going to stand still while you take my picture for $5,000 a day,'" Lakshmi said.

Padma Lakshmi found beauty in a difference in her appearance through modeling

While Padma Lakshmi was raking in the dough modeling for clothing designers, Vanity Fair claimed she didn't truly arrive on the modeling scene until famed photographer Helmut Newton worked with her taking partial nudes. Lakshmi was self-conscious about a large scar down her right arm that she acquired as a result of a car accident when she was a teenager. However, Newton encouraged her to embrace it and to consider the perceived imperfection an asset. 

In an essay she wrote for The Guardian, Lakshmi reflected on the evolution of her relationship with her scar and how it was looked upon by others in her early acting and modeling careers. She said she used to cover it with makeup until Newton urged her not to, a moment in which she said she "felt like a queen." Padma Lakshmi now embraces her battle wound. "... the scar is no longer an issue. I cover it up when necessary, but I prefer not to, especially in my private life. I love my scar. It is so much a part of me ... The scar has singled me out and made me who I am," Lakshmi said.