The beautiful Taylor Erickson is a triple threat; she's a world-renowned model, cooked in 3 Michelin-star restaurants in Paris, France as a chef and her humanitarian work in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake has been nothing short of remarkable.
So when we got a chance to chat with her right before she hopped on a plane to Haiti, it was a real treat.
Modeling and cooking aside, Taylor stays on the path of building hope, as she serves as Ambassador to Word & Action, an organization that prevents child abuse and the protection of the wellbeing of children in Haiti, while also promoting the Foundation Appui a L'Education (FAE) which works to rebuild schools that were destroyed during the earthquake.
Taylor is certainly a busy bee, which is why she shared everything from her first trip to Haiti to what goals she hopes to achieve in 2012 and beyond.
It was a special treat talking with Taylor and we’re hoping she has continued success in all her endeavors. Check out our exclusive below!
Where are you right now?
Right now I am in Miami and I’m actually headed to Haiti in a few hours.
How did you first get involved in Haiti?
I first got involved with Haiti because it was so geographically close when the earthquake hit and felt like I needed to go, it was something I had to do, I wanted to help.
When I first got involved I was doing really simple things like reading to children in their tents and things of that nature; just helping the little areas that I knew I could.
Going into a situation like that, I didn’t know much about it, I’d never been through a country with an aftermath of such devastation before and it was overwhelming.
I found that even just a smile can brighten someone’s spirit so much, in the midst of something like that. Then what I found was that the people have such a joy about them, especially the children.
They’re so easy to please; they want to be near you and they’re happy and they’re smiling! There are so many things we take for granted.
Speaking of the children, how many trips have you taken there?
Oh gosh, at least 15 to 20.
In all those trips you’re always around the children, what’s one thing that they’ve taught you and you’ve learned from them?
Resilience and never losing hope. I think the value of hope is what I’ve taken away from them.
What one can give as a humanitarian is beautiful, but what the humanitarian takes from the experience incredible too. I feel like I’ve become a better person because of Haiti. I have a lot of thank yous to give out to them [Laughs].
Tell us about the Word in Action event you’ll be speaking at.
I’ll be speaking at the first annual charity gala, a charity called Word in Action. I serve as their ambassador and my goal is to increase public attention.
What Word in Action does is, it works to prevent the occurrence of child abuse in Haiti, and to help those who are already victims.
What we’re working to do is to create a center in Port Au Prince that will be a therapeutic and residential center that will help these families and children that have been affected, so they can overcome the stigma of this abuse. ‘Cause it does happen quite a lot in Haiti, the statistics are devastating.
You’re also a chef and a model?
So you can cook and you’re beautiful?
Well thank you, thank you. I actually cooked in Haiti recently and I was so excited to bring my culinary talents to Haiti and bring together my two passions for the first time, really exciting.
Actors and musicians always say their favorite movie or song is the next one, so asking a chef… What’s your favorite meal to cook?
My favorite meal to cook… is probably - it changes, it changes month to month. But right now I’m really into preparing and playing with squid and pasta. I’ve also been playing with infusing different types of whipped cream, spicy/savory whipped creams; I’ve been experimenting with that. This is just what I do in my own kitchen for fun.
What goals do you have for 2012 and beyond?
There’s a lot I want to do, it keeps me up at night [Laughs]. But really what I would like to see happen is to give all of the children in Haiti, at least the majority, education — steady education… and improve on the curriculum. That’s what I would like to see.
There’s actually an organization in Haiti called FAE. They’re the only organization in Haiti that works on already existing public schools that really need to be rebuilt or are half destroyed.
And they go and revamp the whole school. This is an organization that I really, really believe in, and their mantra is: Education is wealth. That’s really something I believe in because the children are the future…
You’ve been there numerous of times; do they look at you like “Auntie Taylor," like the aunt that always comes to visit?
[Laughs] Well, I do stand out a bit, but I’m always greeted with a smile and that’s what really made me fall in love with everybody — it’s just incredible, the spirit there and the resilience and the hope. It rubs off on you! You can’t help but want to be a part of it because you’ve exciting things happening there right now and there’s a lot of change happening, it’s just all positive.