Nicole (“Niki”) Renee Taylor was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Ken and Barbara Taylor, a Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant and a photographer, respectively. She was raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and attended Cooper City High School. She has an older sister, Joelle, and had a younger sister, Kristen (“Krissy”), a fellow model, who died of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia on July 2, 1995, at the age of 17.
When she was 13, Taylor signed with Irene Marie Models in South Florida. There she met photographer Jean Renard, who later became her manager. She subsequently won a Fresh Faces contest in New York City and a $500,000 modeling contract.
Taylor’s first magazine cover was an issue of Seventeen (August 1989) at 14. The following year, at 15, she graced the cover of Vogue. Her official website, nikitaylor.com, and numerous articles and television shows claim that she was the youngest model ever to appear on the cover of Vogue. However, the record belongs to Brooke Shields, who was 14 years and 9 months old when her February 1980 issue came out.
In 1991, Taylor was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, wearing a bright-orange one-piece bathing suit with long lime-green gloves on the beach. The following year, Taylor became the first spokesmodel younger than 18 to sign a major contract with CoverGirl, and she became a feature in their national advertising campaign. Some of her other ad campaigns have been for Liz Claiborne; Nokia; Ellen Tracy; L’Oréal; GAP, Lee Jeans; Rampage clothes; and Pantene. Taylor also simultaneously had six enormous billboards in NYC’s Times Square, for Liz Claiborne.
In May 1996, she set a record appearing on the cover of the six major American women’s fashion and fitness magazines in the same month: Allure, Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, Self, and Shape. They have become known as the “Niki Six.” Taylor appeared in the 1997, 1998, and 1999 editions of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the 1998 cover of its swimsuit calendar. Taylor has been on the cover of more than 400 magazines to date.
Outside of modeling, Taylor was once an interviewer for segments of the syndicated program Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. She also covered events for NBC and guest-hosted MTV’s Fashionably Loud.
In the late 1990s, it was announced that Taylor would work on a line of clothing, bearing her name, for Target. After only a few pieces, the line was suddenly dropped.
Niki also appeared in Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” music video in 2002. Taylor and Urban dated quietly from 2002–2004. There appears to be no paparazzi photos of them together.
In July 2005, Niki Taylor opened a clothing store, Abbie and Jesse’s, in Franklin, Tennessee, with her manager and friend Lou Taylor (no relation). The store was named after Niki and Lou’s dogs.
In the fall of 2005, Taylor launched her first fragrance, “Begin by Niki Taylor.” She also founded the Begin Foundation for the Advancement of Women in Business. In 2007, Niki introduced the finalists on friend and co–Cover Girl spokesmodel Tyra Banks’s talkshow.
Niki and male model Tyson Beckford co-hosted the new Bravo series Make Me A Supermodel. It premiered on January 10, 2008. Although the show was renewed for a second season, Taylor did not return as co-host.
A few months after graduating from high school in the fall of 1993, Taylor met former Miami Hooters linebacker Matt Martinez during a coin-toss at an Arena football game in Miami. Three months later, in January 1994, they eloped to Las Vegas. On July 19, 1994, a 4-months-pregnant Taylor married Martinez in a more traditional wedding ceremony in McCammon, Idaho. In December 1994, the couple had twin sons, Jake and Hunter. Less than two years later, Taylor and Martinez divorced. During a 1997 television interview, Taylor told reporter Nancy Collins, on ABC’s Primetime Live, that she rushed into marriage at age 18: “I didn’t know him, and he didn’t know me.”
Taylor went on to date National Hockey League (NHL) hockey player Rob Niedermayer, Miami “night club king” and convicted mobster Chris Paciello, Chad Renegar, and country music artist Keith Urban, whom she met on the set of Urban’s 2002 music video “Somebody Like You”. Taylor and her twin sons later moved from South Florida to Nashville, Tennessee, to be with Urban. They dated on and off until December 2004.
In October 2006 (nine years after her “rushed” first marriage ended), Taylor became engaged to NASCAR driver Burney Lamar after just three dates. Their wedding was on December 27, 2006, at the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California. Instead of gifts, the couple asked for donations to be sent to Victory Junction Gang Camp, a camp for terminally ill children in North Carolina.
Taylor and Lamar’s first child together, daughter Ciel Taylor Lamar, was born on March 4, 2009, one day before Taylor’s 34th birthday. A pregnant Taylor, her sons, and Lamar were featured in a March 2009 magazine advertisement for Sketchers Footwear. They were featured in the pages of Redbook magazine’s February 2010 issue in countryside photos.
Taylor lives with her husband and children in a French colonial house on 7 acres in Brentwood, Tennessee.