Naomi Campbell has described the "territorialism" she encountered when she was battling to become the first black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue.
The supermodel said there were many occasions when she would get far less money to do the same jobs as her white counterparts.
Talking to host Alan Carr on Alan Carr Chatty Man, she said: "I never use that word 'racism', I find it a cliche word and I don't want to use it as an excuse.
"For me it was, I call it territorialism, where there are people that have that certain territory and they stand their ground and they are not going to change their mind and that is their opinion.
"I have always risen to every challenge and so basically my other friends had a French Vogue cover and I was like, 'Why can't I have one too?' And at first they said no, because they had never had anyone on it.
"It was instantly no without thinking. So I thought 'Let me go to my great friend Yves Saint Laurent and tell him', since I was his contract girl. I asked him to fix the situation and he did. That is how I got it."
Naomi made history when she appeared on the cover of the magazine in August 1988.
In September 1989 American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour put her on the cover of the publication's September issue, the biggest of the year.
Naomi, who was appearing on Chatty Man to promote her new coffee table book, told Carr she likes to rise to challenges and now fights for younger models in the same position.
She said: "As I sit here, I fight for the younger models of colour, and when I say colour I mean of all colours, its all shades and origins that have a hard time.
"Again, it's not saying 'You're racist'. That isn't what it is about. Maybe we should remind you when casting to use all colours and more models of colour. I hope that is going to happen in more television in England actually. I think there could be more on television in England."
Naomi also revealed she took less money than her counterparts but would still do the job because she believed in it.
She said: "Many times, many, many, many times I would do the jobs of my counterparts but get much less money and I would do it for the creative reason, you know because of the look of it and to be part of my group of women but I would never say I was getting much less.
"I always thought it was going to work out another way, somewhere along the line. I always had that belief. It wasn't about the money for me and it was just about the creative level and the wonderful people we were working with so I would do it."
Naomi was part of an elite group of models in the 1990s that included Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista.
Asked about being an original supermodel, she said: "We didn't make that name up and we didn't bring it into our group. We were just called by our names.
"We thought it was a bit weird that we had to wake up in the morning and read what we ate for breakfast on the front cover of an Italian newspaper, but then we were like 'we really need to start being more private because look what has happened'."
Naomi and Christy lived together when the models were at the peak of their fame and Naomi said she would not be modelling if it were not for her friend.
"Christy would say to designers 'if you aren't using Naomi in the show, you aren't using us', because some designers wouldn't use black models, and she would be saying 'if you don't use her, you don't get us'. Not many people would do that and put themselves in jeopardy. We were not rivals and we were very supportive of each other and still are."
Alan Carr Chatty Man airs on Thursdays on Channel 4 at 10pm.