Naomi Campbell - December 2016

Moschino top and pants; Jennifer Fisher earrings. Beauty note: Enhance a sleek look with StriVectin Hair All Smooth Overnight Anti-Frizz Serum.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Naomi Campbell has no problem crying on command. The legendary model, who at 46 is now focusing much of her attention on acting, can, in fact, weep as well as she walks. “I just go to that place of pain,” she says, declining to offer specifics. She learned the method from Susan Batson, her longtime drama coach, who also counts Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise as clients. Campbell often brings her along to the set when she’s working, but it was a first to have her on hand at a fashion shoot. “She pulls things out of you like no other,” ­Campbell says of Batson, who coaxed a range of emotions from her for this W story. “It’s like therapy.” Yet even before she began working with her, ­Campbell was practiced in role-playing for the camera. “I’ve always taken direction as a model,” she adds. “Whether working with photographers like Richard Avedon or designers like Marc Jacobs, I’ve always asked them, ‘What would you like of me?’ ”

These days, she is posing that question to Lee Daniels. Last year, the director cast her in his hit TV series Empire as Camilla Marks, a seductive conwoman who cannot be easily killed off—even, apparently, with arsenic. “She definitely drank poison,” teases ­Campbell of last season’s shocker moment. “But I can’t say if she died…” What she can confirm is her appearance in Daniels’s newest musical drama, Star, which will debut in early 2017 on Fox. Campbell plays Rose Spencer, the wealthy mother of one of three young women trying to make it as a band. Lenny Kravitz plays Rose’s rock-star husband; Queen ­Latifah, the godmother of the other two girls. “The energy is so great—it makes you want to get up and dance and sing,” says Campbell, who won’t actually be doing either. While she can dance, having studied ballet as a child, the part doesn’t call for any numbers; and, despite having released an album, Baby Woman, in the 1990s, she humbly admits she can’t really carry a tune. “I don’t need to,” she says of her character. “I orchestrate.”

Related: Go behind the scenes with Naomi Campbell in Ghana: