Supermodel is also a role model Volunteer: Beauty is Amber Valletta's career, but philanthropy is the work she loves.

October 25, 1998|By Tammy Theis | Tammy Theis,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Amber Valletta is the epitome of a supermodel: Of course she's beautiful - and not just in photos. She has luminous skin, sultry sea-green eyes and curving lips. She's been on the covers of dozens of fashion magazines. She's done the stint on MTV's House of Style, and now she's the face of Elizabeth Arden.

But it is her burgeoning career in charity work that Valletta seems most proud of. In Dallas recently, she went shopping with young cancer survivors from St. Jude Children's Research fTC Hospital, offering her expert fashion advice as each chose an outfit. Valletta, 24, is on the board of directors at St. Jude's, a research institute and hospital for childhood catastrophic diseases.

In between shopping, we caught up with her. Here's what she had to say:

Q. When you started your modeling career in Tulsa, Okla., you were torn between soccer and modeling. Any regrets?

A. No, because I still play soccer.

Q. Your charity work seems like a new direction for you.

A. Well, it's really not something new. Since I was a child, my mother was involved in different things, like on Thanksgiving we would go and help serve meals at Mother Tucker's, a homeless shelter.

Then when I was older, I was in a Catholic school, and we had to complete a number of hours of community service. ...

Ultimately, I think I'll do something in the realm of service, but I don't know what. ... I want to go to college ... to complete my major.

Q. What charities are you currently involved in?

A. I still donate money to the Tulsa Food Bank, and I lend my name. We haven't done another benefit [like the fashion show she organized for the food bank a few years ago, with supermodels Shalom Harlow, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell], because it would be hard to do another one and ask for the same people to come. But I raised over $200,000 for them.

I'm active as well in breast cancer now. My mother's had breast cancer, and my two grandmothers have had it. So it's something close to me. I work on the Nina Hyde fashion council on breast cancer. Then there is [Harper's Bazaar editor] Liz Tilberis, who does things for ovarian cancer, and I'm a big supporter of hers.

Q. Let me ask a few of your favorites. Favorite book or current reading?

A. I'm reading a book right now called "Ishmael."

Q. Do you have a favorite Arden beauty product?

A. Eight Hour Cream is great.

Q. Favorite designers?

A. As far as modern wear, I love Yohji Yamamoto. I love Prada for day wear, Chanel for an elegant suit, Galliano and Versace for a beautiful evening dress.

Q. Favorite indulgence?

A. I buy flowers a lot, and I travel with family and friends. But I think the biggest splurge is just a nice bath and a book.

Q. Any advice for young girls who want to model?

A. Stay in school. There are too many young girls modeling that don't need to be there. You look beautiful at 20. Wait.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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