(NEW YORK) — She has one of the most recognizable faces in the world, appearing on the cover of Vogue at age 14 – but, deep down, Brooke Shields considers herself a “nerd.”
“I was such a nerd, a complete geek,” she told the British publication Untitled for its Spring/Summer Legendary issue. “But then I was lucky enough to have a fancy career, where I can be like ‘See, I’m not a nerd. Look, I’m in Vogue.’”
Shields, 48, got her first gig as a model at the tender age of 11 months old, posing for Ivory soap. At age 4, she became the first child ever signed by a major modeling agency, Ford.
“I know how hard it is to break in and I know how hard it is to decide who you want to be … so it was sort of decided for me,” Shields told Untitled. “I’m actually thankful because it did send me on a trajectory of an amazing life.”
That amazing life included her friendship with pop icon Michael Jackson, who could also relate to growing up too quickly in the spotlight.
“I would give him whatever he needed on a child-like level and it was fine,” the Suddenly Susan star said in the interview. “I knew how to make him feel safe. You know, watching movies and eating candy.”
Her biggest challenge with Jackson, she said, was making sure that he knew she didn’t want anything but friendship from him.
“I didn’t want a thing and he wanted me to have things. And I think it was hard for him to deal with, because he didn’t know what to give. I wasn’t asking for anything,” Shields said.
In fact, Shields not only made the move from modeling to acting at age 12, when she was cast as a prostitute in the controversial Pretty Baby, she later earned a degree in French literature from Princeton.
She cited Natalie Portman as someone who has done it “right” as an actress.
“She was born in an era where she was allowed to be considered an actress, but I look at her in The Professional and I look at Pretty Baby and I look at how her next move, whether it was strategic or not, was Anne Frank on Broadway,” Shields told Untitled. “Including the Ivy League education, she’s the only person who did that. I think we’re going to see really great things from her.”
As for the modeling industry today, Shields called it “a very weird thing,” adding, “I don’t think that I would have survived as well if everything happened in this time.”