Taylor Anne Erickson, model and chef personality, grew up in San Diego, California. At 18, Taylor moved to Los Angeles where her modeling career gave her the opportunity to live in Greece, France, Italy, New York, and Miami. She then went to receive her degree in French Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu. Upon graduation, Erickson worked at the 3 Michelin-star restaurant L’Arpege in Paris under the guidance of Chef Alain Passard. Taylor returned to America where her culinary talents lead to a career in Culinary Media.
On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, affecting nearly 3,000,000 people. Soon after the earthquake, Taylor became involved in the humanitarian efforts throughout the devastated area. Her continued loyalty to the country brought her to serve as Ambassador to Word & Action , an organisation that is devoted to preventing child abuse and the protection of the wellbeing of children in Haiti. She also holds a position on the board of Foundation Appui à L’Education (FAE), an organization dedicated to rebuilding the schools that were destroyed in the earthquake. Taylor currently resides between Port Au Prince, Haiti, and Los Angles, California and is committed to protecting the welfare of Haitian children and children around the world.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, I spoke with Taylor Erickson to discuss her involvement in Haiti.
Throughout my modeling career, I was able to travel to many places and discover and appreciate different cultures. My travels allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to the world. As a chef trained in French cuisine, I was honored to work with Alain Passard at L’Arpege. He is truly a visionary in the culinary arts. While these experiences helped to shape me in a big way, the most significant has been being introduced to Haiti.
How did you first get involved with Haiti and what is your current role?
After the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, I was involved in starting a camp in Jacmel, Haiti for women and children. It was in this camp that I discovered a deep love for the Haitian people and a mysterious loyalty. I knew I wanted to keep going. I now serve as ambassador to a charity that I hold very close to my heart, Word & Action. W&A is involved in stopping child abuse in Haiti and helping to create a healthy environment for children to thrive and dream. I also serve on the board of Foundation Appui A L’Education. FAE is a foundation that works to rebuild Haiti’s schools that were destroyed in the earthquake. I see education as being extremely important for improving these children’s lives, and changing the entire future of the country. Giving these children the gift of a healthy childhood and an education is priceless.
What is the first thing that made you fall in love with Haiti?
Honestly, I remember being taken back at times and downright overwhelmed. There was so much destruction and the people had lost everything. Yet, there were still smiles, energy, and joy. What made me fall in love with the country was its people. They inspired me and still do. I hope to be able to give them back in return what they have given me. After being in Haiti, and spending time with the Haitian people, one cannot deny that it is a nation of hope and resilience.
Can you give some specific examples of your work within your positions at Word & Action and Foundation Appui à L’Education?
As ambassador to Word & Action, I contribute my efforts by raising awareness for the aims, objectives, and priorities of the organization. It is also in my responsibility to ensure consistency and maintenance of a high standard in the selection and involvement of prominent individuals in W&A. I am also instrumental in organizing events, such as our Silent Cries Haiti Gala at the end of this month, where I will be speaking on the topic of prevention of child abuse. I am so happy to help with such a great cause that I believe will help solve many of Haiti’s problems. I also help in the production of new schools, on the ground in Haiti, and generally extending public outreach. Helping on a larger scale is important and necessary if one can do so, but when I am in Haiti, I enjoy spending time with the children. Connecting with them in a very real and simple way is important. Sometimes just a smile can have a domino effect in the fight against suffering, and it brings me a lot of joy.
Has your ability to network with other people on the worldwide scale helped you increase support for your work in Haiti and the Haitian people?
Traveling and meeting a wide range of influential people in many industries from fashion, to the culinary arts, to film, to humanitarian efforts, has definitely aided in my ability to promote for this cause. If we can all somehow come together the force of aid would be momentous. If I can connect dots and introduce certain people to join forces to better benefit Haiti, and the world, then I feel we are one step closer to operating aid from a united place. I look for these opportunities.
I completely agree, but unfortunately we live in a world that often puts disasters, like Haiti, at the back burner after time has passed. What would you say to these people about the continued need for assistance to the Haitian people and how can they get involved themselves?
Haiti needs all of our help. We must not forget that we are all a family on this planet and need one another. Although Haiti still needs help, there are many exciting things happening. Now is the time for change in Haiti. This opportunity to change the world and Haiti is available to all, and it is a dear and precious cause. I encourage everyone to open their hearts, and give in the way they can, whether it be to volunteer, to give $2, or $200,000. Haiti needs us.
Interview: Brittney Coker
Images: Cinema for Peace Los Angeles, 2012; Seth Barlow; Maria Laxamara