Naomi Campbell hailed the influence of her “modest” south London upbringing as she sent a message of female empowerment at a youth event in London.
The supermodel, 48, said the biggest challenge facing young people today is finding the opportunity to access their “passion”.
The catwalk queen was speaking on the red carpet at WE Day at the SSE Arena in Wembley on Wednesday – an event also attended by the Duke Of Sussex.
Asked what message she would send to her younger self, Campbell replied: “Basically, just don’t give up on your dream.
“My mother always used to say to me, ‘you’ve got to try 110%’, and that’s something that’s always been instilled in me.”
On the biggest challenge faced by young people today, she said: “I think getting the opportunity to learn skills and to get into the job that they really want to do, their passion.”
Campbell said she “absolutely” backed laws against knife crime but would not speak further on the matter.
She added: “I don’t know much about a knife epidemic in London. I don’t live there. I won’t comment on that.”
Campbell arrived on the red carpet less than 10 minutes after Liam Payne, who she is rumoured to be in a relationship with.
The pair were linked after the former One Direction star was pictured outside Campbell’s New York flat around Valentine’s Day.
Although they did not arrive at the event together, Payne is likely to have watched Campbell speak on female empowerment inside the arena, to cheers from the young audience.
The event saw students and teachers gather in the north-west London venue.
Addressing 12,000 students and teachers, Campbell said: “The lack of social mobility is something we hear about a lot these days, but let’s be positive and create our own mobility. Upwards is the word.
“Let’s keep on pushing to ensure that whatever our skill sets, backgrounds, we maximise our potential.
“We need to set out goals ourselves then work on achieving them, day and night.
“Never give up. I myself, I come from south London, a modest background.
“My mother Valerie has been my huge support, believing in me and supporting me since I was three. She always listened to me and always would say, ‘You do what you want to do’.”
The Duchess of Sussex made a surprise appearance when she joined her husband onstage as he delivered a rousing speech taking in climate change and the dangers of social media.
Speaking as president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Harry said: “Every day you are inundated with an over-exposure of advertising and mainstream media, social media and endless comparisons, distorting the truth, and trying to manipulate the power of positive thinking.
“But you don’t let them sway you.”
He then invited his heavily pregnant wife to join him to screams of delight. “I’m now going to drag my wife on stage”, he said before taking the duchess by the hand.
After an interval, the model and activist Natalia Vodianova engaged in a back-and-forth with the crowd about the stigma surrounding periods.
The 37-year-old Russian, nicknamed Supernova, said: “You are the future and you can break the stigma. We can break it together.
“I don’t count but I have five kids and, I’m not your mother, I’m not here to tell you what to do, but I’m here because I want you to change the way it is.”
Payne closed the event with two of his tracks: Get Low and Polaroid. Between the two routines, he thanked Harry and Meghan for appearing and celebrated their charitable work.
He said: “I just want to say a quick thank you. It’s amazing all the work people do for this fantastic charity.
“I want to thank the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for having me. Let’s give it up for our royals because they do some amazing work. And, anyway, people can get behind this cause. It’s a really good one. Do what you can.”
WE Day’s 2019 edition featured performances from Brit award-winner Tom Walker and a speech from Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls.