There are few women in the world as recognizably famous as Rachel Hunter. Her inter-continental fame transcends as widely as it does because she is so vitally relatable. Her human heart sees the humanity in all of us, and her recent award-winning television series, “Tour of Beauty”, is a testament to that. Penetratingly deep experiences were captured beautifully as Rachel and the film crew toured the world on a global odyssey – meeting remarkable people from all walks of life. In that life-changing year, Rachel learned much about how different countries define the idea of wellness and beauty. From the ancient health practices in China, through to the vibrancy of India, contrasted with the futuristic, forward-thinking worlds of South Korea and Japan – there was so much to observe and learn. Significantly poignant was the common denominator: that no matter the country, the importance of community, authenticity and joy – appeared to be the critical components to wellness and beauty.
Rachel says of that fulfilling experience: “Our objective in making the ‘Tour of Beauty’ film was to highlight diversity and the importance of our differences. We are all individuals in beauty. Beauty to me is looking at the 5 pillars of life, feeling all of them, and living in the moment. I am so grateful that ‘empathy’ is a word that more people are hearing and understanding every day. Empathy is an integral part of our humanity.”
Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Rachel Hunter exploded onto the international modeling scene in 1986 at age 17. Her rise to prominence was accelerated after her first scoop as a ‘Sports Illustrated’ cover model in 1989 – and from thereon – she became one of the most photographed international cover models in the world.
Rachel’s description of that period in her life illustrates her substance: She says, “Having a career in modeling at that time was powerful because I started to hear the voices of the strong women in my decade – as well as ones before – and that impacted me greatly in such a positive way. These outspoken women were courageous and they paved the way for all other women – particularly when it came to health issues and general wellbeing. These women expressed viewpoints that needed to be heard, and they did so much for our generation of women.”
Rachel’s acting résumé began with several television appearances on ‘The Drew Carey Show’ and ‘Suddenly Susan’. From there she went on to feature films and recently completed her seventh independent film. Her film credits include ‘A Walk in the Park’ and ‘Two Shades of Blue’. She has appeared in numerous music videos, including the chart-topping, ‘Stacey’s Mom’ by Fountains of Wayne. Reality television has been on her list of accomplishments too: She appeared on ‘Dancing with the Stars’, and ‘The Real Gilligan’s Island’ as well as the BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. She was a judge on ‘Are you Hot?’ and the host on Britain’s ‘Make Me a Supermodel’ and WE’s ‘Style Me with Rachel Hunter’.
Our objective in making the ‘Tour of Beauty’ film was to highlight diversity and the importance of our differences. We are all individuals in beauty. Beauty to me is looking at the 5 pillars of life, feeling all of them, and living in the moment
Rachel is an ambassador to the ‘Born Free Foundation’ – an organization that helps to prevent animal suffering, protect threatened species, and keep wild animals in the wild where they belong. She established the ‘Rachel Hunter Gorilla Fund’.
This authentic, humble and non-egocentric beauty travels extensively while continuing to model, act, and teach yoga. Her accomplished, grownup children, son Liam and daughter Renee, share a great relationship with their mom and dad – Rod Stewart.
Just before going to press, Rachel said to me, “Please, rather put Ron Finley on the cover. He educates communities in every demographic of the world – helping them understand the importance of growing the food that they eat. Regardless of whether communities are poor or wealthy, he is this force of nature that passionately goes in to create spaces that will ultimately contribute to everyone’s health and awareness. He’s done an amazing Ted Talk and I look forward to taking one of his master classes. He deserves the cover much more than I do.” And that is why we love the iconic Rachel Hunter. Our special appreciation goes out to IconicFocus Models NYC/LA for insuring that people like her continue to shine their light on others – for decades to come.
Q: You were in an Ashram in India when Covid-19 took the world down in March 2020. You were isolated and away from your family when lockdown occurred.
Rachel: First off and foremost: my compassion goes out to those we have lost – and to all our frontline workers; these people are always in the forefront of my mind every morning. I was thankful and grateful for them – and deep prayers for those who were sick or who have passed.
I had traveled to South India for a friend’s wedding and had decided to stay on for more Sadhana (spiritual practices). I had just come out of 18 days in silence. My nervous system was very tranquil; I was aware, of course, of the virus before I had gone into silence. About 10 days later, India went into lockdown as did most of the world. I wasn’t panicked as I was in a country I love, but over the first month – adjusting to the unraveling that was going on in the world, I naturally had many moments of needing to see my children. There was that strong maternal longing to get back to my family. As the world continued to unravel, and everyone adjusted to the massive changes in their lives, I considered myself fortunate in that Rod (Stewart) was in London with our children – Renee and Liam – and that made me feel better. As a mother – that was my main concern: to at least have one parent physically present with my children – even though they are in their 20s. Hahaha. I still think they are 10!
This provided a time for me to really look within myself, again, and again. There were moments of discomfort because I was not able to leave the area. Since I love moving about, it was a soul lockdown. For those of us that were healthy, we were lucky to really harness this time productively. What Covid-19 did is provide us with a lot of extra time – to take a deep look at some things, and work through those things. It was an opportunity to spend time with family as our lives slowed down through necessity. 2020 really revealed to me – as we all got off the fast track – what was important to do, learn and spend time on. This was the unraveling of self; the unknown; the no control; the anxiety; confronting things that turned out to be amazing in journeying through this. Continuing always. This continues to be a beautiful time to learn your dharma – your soul purpose – and to really step into your authentic self.
Q: In 2017 you lost your mom to cancer in New Zealand. You and she shared a particularly special relationship. What were some of the powerful lessons about life that you gained from that relationship?
Rachel: Mom was a seeker who was very spiritual and a great teacher. She was strong and soft at the same time. Her biggest lesson was a few weeks before she passed. I asked what she regretted. She announced, “always be who you are! Don’t care what people think. Step into who you fully are and don’t worry about being judged.” Of course we read this and see quotes about being who we are, but when your mother is weeks away from dying, and has that limited amount of time to not care what people are thinking – it really made me realize there is no time but NOW! She was a GREAT lover of nature, of rituals, tarot and crystals. These were all “normal” for my sister and I.
As the world continued to unravel, and everyone adjusted to the massive changes in their lives, I considered myself fortunate in that Rod (Stewart) was in London with our children – Renee and Liam – and that made me feel better
Q: You gravitate towards Nature for your sense of well-being. New Zealand – your birth place – has always held a special place in your heart. On a recent trip pre Covid-19, you visited the famous KAURI tree. Why it is important to tap into the vast goodness in Nature.
Rachel: There is no dogma to nature – yet she is the perfect example of God. Without nature there is no life: the sun, the moon, the stars, the weather, the elements, earth, food. Without fire we cannot cook. Without air, without water – we all depend on nature’s bounty. With space comes clear thoughts. These are in nature. Nature feeds us entirely, and the biggest lesson is that she never apologizes for who she is. A plant will grow out of a crack in a concrete slab. Where there is light, nature will grow. I have so much respect for her.
Q: HEALTH is an exceptionally important component of your life. You often say, “Health is Wealth”, and that we have the power of CHOICE. Choice is critical.
Rachel: How lucky are those of us who are healthy during this time. However, optimizing our health is really a choice. Boosting our immune systems is vital, and this past year has really illustrated how important it is to strengthen our immunity. There are so many choices we can make to lead healthier lives. It starts first thing in the morning with the person we see in the mirror. From drinking our first cup of coffee of the day – to parking our cars – to the food choices we make throughout the day. 2020 has been an unprecedented year. It broke our regular human chain of connecting with each other – but there were so many lessons and opportunities to learn and grow. We adjusted to our new normal. However, I kept thinking about our beautiful human chain – and it made me really think about the value of every person in that chain – whether it’s the people who gather our food, or the person that one sees first thing in the morning. I thought about all the faces I know – and whose names I probably didn’t know. It made me really realize what a valuable part each person plays in my life, and I became profoundly grateful for each person. This time has made me really look deeper into this. Truly from every aspect – we are on this path together.
As a society and as a community, we have to insure that organic food is available for all. That is critical to our long-term health, and nurturing it for the future. Our health is imperative to our humanity as we are all aware. But how do we make this an evolutionary shift so that everyone benefits?
Mental health, too, is of the utmost importance. For me, the beautiful take-away from this past year has been the recognition of the importance of our human connections. Our emotions and our beautiful souls yearn for expression.
Q: SPIRITUALITY is a vital necessity in your life. Its roots began with your mom, and now, your two adult children, Liam and Renee, have discovered its benefits.
Rachel: I don’t see being spiritual as separate. It is an integrated part of us. I was asked this question: “When did you become spiritual, Rachel?” My answer was: the moment I was born. It was an awareness and the spirituality was intact. Our egos can take us off that spiritual path. For me – when I am in my full flow, there is dharma, and when you are in dharma, there is no question about being spiritual or not. You are in the flow of life. I have experienced a few religions and I love them all.
Nature feeds us entirely, and the biggest lesson is that she never apologizes for who she is. A plant will grow out of a crack in a concrete slab. Where there is light, nature will grow. I have so much respect for her
Q: You recently met Ron Finley. He gives master classes on Gardening – and is an amazing man who plants nutrient-rich gardens.
Rachel: I met Ron Finley on ‘Tour of Beauty’. He is just incredible and his passion is the well-being of all! His whole view on plants, nature, the soil. You just need to go watch him to be inspired. He has a Ted Talk and he holds master classes. The impact is so important and he has this powerful presence and ability to educate us on the importance of planting nutrient-rich food. He plants in backyards, sidewalks and he is so dynamic and inspirational.
Q: You love being a mom. Your son, Liam, is a professional ice hockey player. Your daughter, Renee, is a professional dancer. 2020 changed everyone’s lives, and your son opened a new business: manufacturing merchandise. You were vastly impressed by his ability to adapt and be productive.
Rachel: I think so many people have found new paths and new work – and things that maybe they thought they would never do – they ended up DOING! They put aside their fear, pressed the new button, and the will led! It’s so amazing to see growth like this worldwide. People have started passion projects and purpose-driven businesses. The online landscape opened up so much potential.
Q: You teach YOGA, and it’s an integral part of your commitment towards health optimization.
Rachel: Yoga teaches us how to unite: to unite with self and to experience. The 8 limbs of yoga are not just the yoga poses we do. Breath, self study, concentration – all create an awareness of your own inner culture; Inner Scape – Inner Temple. It is so beautiful to create this as we connect to ourselves and then the external becomes natural. It is not so much external all the time of seeking. There is a natural discovery and of seeking. Of course there are fluctuations and life happens. The whole practice is beautiful but whatever your entry point is – that’s a beautiful place right there. I went to India to learn more in regards to the postures and the full aspect of yoga. I never thought I would teach but I love this process. I’m always the student!
Q: What are all the things we can do to reduce stress in our lives?
Rachel: Meditation. Breath work for me works – as does moving the body. There are many ways to move this energy. But this is also personal, so this needs to be something that is done with listening and respect. It’s different for everyone .
2020 really revealed to me – as we all got off the fast track – what was important to do, learn and spend time on. This was the unraveling of self; the unknown; the no control; the anxiety; confronting things that turned out to be amazing in journeying through this
Q: Last time we chatted, you had just completed your internationally successful TV series, ‘Tour of Beauty’. Describe a few absolute highlights from that experience.
Rachel: There are so many. Every country I visited changed my life! Every time I left a place, I wished I could live there. The touching moments with the people; the connection with all the cultures was such a valuable learning experience. It was about understanding and not judging.
Q: Want do you most hope for in 2021?
Rachel: That we all connect, evolve consciously, learn, love and listen!
Q: Your favorite indulgence?
Q: Book you highly recommend?
Rachel: Yoga sutras of Pantajai
Q: What do you most value?
Rachel: Love Truth Grace Compassion – all backed with strength
Q: Absolute favorite food dish?
Rachel: Pasta Pesto
Q: Place in the world you’d like to re-visit?
Rachel: Everywhere. All countries. I can’t get enough of each one
Q: What can we learn from our four-legged animal friends?
Rachel: Love that is pure and unconditional. Animals live in the moment – unless they are high-yield trained – but even then, you can see primal behaviors in their eyes
Q: Your greatest wish for your children?
Rachel: That they live in their truth
Q: THE BEACH and THE OCEAN…What draws you to it?
Rachel: The water is calming. The sounds of the water ebbing and flowing – forever changing