Barbara Meier is widely known as the pretty redhead with the friendly smile who won the second cycle of Germany’s Next Topmodel. However, there is far more to her than meets the eye: she also studied mathematics and is an environmental protection enthusiast, an actress, a passionate marathon runner and now also an author.

Born and raised in the small town of Amberg in Bavaria, Barbara Meier decided to study mathematics in Regensburg after finishing school.“I then watched the first season of Germany’s Next Topmodel and instantly became a big fan. At some point, I read that there would be a casting for the show’s second season in a shopping centre in Regensburg. I decided to go and have a look but suddenly a model scout came up to me and asked if I wanted to join. To be honest – I was a bit too shy to say no,”Barbara laughs. “I would have never ever thought that I would pass the first round, let alone win.”

Barbara describes her time at Germany’s Next Topmodel as a “wonderful and exciting” experience that opened up her world. “I had never really travelled before the show,” she says,“I saw various new places and had so many people around me – it was a completely new world for me.”After she came out as the winner of the casting show, Barbara soon noticed that she had to learn a bit more about the modelling routine. Thus, she moved to Turkey and Greece for a few months. She says: “This might not sound overly glamorous but I had the chance to work on a daily basis there. In Paris you have to go to 1,000 castings and get one job. In Turkey and Greece, I attended one casting and the jobs arose from that.”

After gaining more practical experience, her modelling career really took off. Thanks to her distinctive looks, fiery red hair and her versatility, Barbara quickly grew into an internationally sought-after model. Her editorial and campaign photos appeared on the likes of Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Grazia, InStyle or Madame Figaro. She was booked for Wolfgang Joop’s runway show and various others in LA,NewYork, Paris, Cannes, Bangkok and – of course – Germany. Pantene, Disneyland Paris, Yogurette, Schaebens or Müllermilch  also chose her for their TV advertising campaigns. Recently, in the last few months, she became the first German face for Skechers.

Her emotional centre
What Barbara loves most about modelling is the ability to convey emotions through a picture.“When people look at an editorial photo, they are somewhat fascinated and get put in a certain mood. This is really exciting. I studied mathematics where logical thinking and theories were the most important and suddenly I had to work with emotions,”she explains. This is exactly what fascinates her about acting as well. The model has starred in various TV shows and movies, such as The Pasta Detectives 2 or SOKO 5113. Rumour has it that she will soon star in her first American movie with non-other than Twilight star Kellan Lutz. Is that why she was invited to the Golden Globes a few weeks ago? She laughs: “I can’t reveal more about it at this point I’m afraid.” But she can tell us what she loves about acting. “It’s great to deal with different psychological character traits and to impersonate somebody else”. Even though acting is now a big part of Barbara’s life, she would like to model at the same time. “I know that Germans like to do one job at a time, but I prefer the American mentality. I have lived in New York for a while and Americans like to try more things at once. I want to keep modelling and acting at the same time.”

Exercise vs. dieting
When people think about getting a great body, the first thing that comes to mind is strict dieting. Barbara Meier seeks to change this notion with her new book Dein Weg zum Glücksgewicht, in which she seeks to help people integrate more exercise into their daily life. The book is an effective little helper to become happier, healthier and skinnier without the need for a diet. It includes various practical tips for endurance training and other fitness exercises, as well as beauty, motivation and healthy eating advice. The overall message of the book is that it is really important to implement exercise into our daily routines. “We tend to sit way too much – it’s like the new smoking. You don’t need to go to the gym for three hours a day, but it does make a difference when you decide to walk 15 additional minutes a day, use the stairs instead of the lift or stand up while working.”

Barbara explains: “Models might have to be skinny, but not every woman on the street needs to have size extra extra small to be beautiful. I believe that beauty comes from somewhere entirely different. It comes from a healthy body and from being happy with oneself.” She adds:“As a model I did many diets, I tormented myself and was hungry but I never really became skinny through this. When I decided to run the New York City Marathon, I ate three times as much during the training phase but lost weight much quicker. I was happier, had better skin and was full of energy. I simply noticed that exercise is far more important than counting calories.”

Besides modelling, acting and writing books, Barbara spends her time as an ambassador for POWER-CHILD where she seeks to foster strength and confidence in children to prevent sexual violence. Environmental protection is another big passion of hers as she actively supports the WWF. When she is not busy working, the model likes to relax at her home in Munich. “I travel a lot and there’s always something happening, so it’s nice to come back to Munich. It has a lot of nature and is a bit calmer, slower and more traditional,” she says. Having achieved a great deal, we wanted to know what dreams Barbara still has. She laughs:“I love fantasy films so I’d love to play a role like the ice queen in The Chronicles of Narnia. But apart from that, I let myself be surprised. I have experienced so many great things already and they mostly happened rather incidentally.”

TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF I PHOTOS: DORLING KINDERSLEY VERLAG / PHOTOS – CHRISTIAN BRECHEIS