In the first half of Wednesday's special two-hour America's Next Top
finale, Tyra and her judges narrowed down their field of four
to two--leaving by the wayside Alexandra Underwood, the curvy, quiet (or so it seemed) blond bombshell from Texas.Read What Happened: America's
Next Top Model Cycle 14 Finale Recap
After watching the elimination unfold anew, Alexandra took the time to chat with me about her Top Model experience, and surprised me with what she revealed about her struggles in the house, how she's different than she seemed on TV and why her elimination wasn't fully justified.
Congratulations on making it to the Final Four! How does that feel?
Thank you! It was awesome! You always hope whenever you start, you're gonna do well. And that was a big accomplishment.
This season was filled with a lot of catfights and stubborn models. Being the full-figured model in the house, did they ever pressure you or put you down at all?
Because it seemed like you stayed out of the drama a little bit.
Literally, every time their voices reach a certain octave, that's when I left the room. You know, I didn't get a lot of airtime because of that. They just look like complete fools. So I'm so glad that I left the room.
You know they really didn't. Everyone was always really great. I think people were really confused as to why I was even considered in the first place. They were really supportive, and all the girls were really great as far as that goes.
Do you think that you had more to prove, going to the show, because you were the plus-sized model in the house?
Yes. It feels like I was put in a different category. I don't think the girls really considered me competition for a long time because of that. They were just worried about each other, which you know, kind of sucked some times.
We definitely saw that in the middle of the competition, you seemed to be getting frustrated with your performance and maybe getting a little bit down on yourself. What happened that caused you to second-guess yourself like that, and how did you snap out of it?
Well, I got to my lowest image one of the last weeks we were in New York. We've been there for two months, we were in this tube with each other. As we were talking, we were on camera. I called home maybe twice. Whenever you're in a place where you're surrounded by people you don't particularly really like. Tatiana and I were really close on the show. And after she got eliminated, I wasn't close to anybody. That was really difficult to take this personality of liking everybody when you didn't really want to be around any of the girls you were around.
In New York, I just got to a point where I felt really claustrophobic and I also felt like I couldn't do anything right, as far as panel would go. I get these awesome critiques from Mister Jay on my photo shoots themselves. He even commented on the show about me being his favorite. And then going in the panel, you'd see the picture that they'd choose, it'd come up just middle-ground. It just didn't make sense and it didn't add up, that I would be a creative director's favorite girl on set and then the panel's mediocre choice. That didn't really add up and it didn't make sense and that was really frustrating. I think that really had a huge toll on me by that last week in New York, 'cause I felt like I couldn't do anything right.
Do you think that Tyra wasn't picking your best photos to show to the panel?
Well, I mean it's obvious that they don't pick every girl's best photo. They just pick a picture to go off of, and to create a point. There's a reason why, obviously, we don't get to see our film and why we don't get to choose our own photo. There's a reason for that. You know, they have to create a show. It's part of the show, it is a reality show. I didn't prepare myself for how much reality was actually taken into consideration, and not competition. I didn't prepare myself for that, and I didn't realize how much of the quote-unquote reality part of the show went into that program.
After you went to New Zealand, it seemed like you had less of that cabin fever affecting you. You had a fresh start. What was that like?
Everyone asks me about this. I think it's because in New Zealand, I was the furthest away from home but I felt the most at home. I grew up at a cattle ranch in Texas. I grew up in animals and being outside and being active. My roommates even now, here at college, we're active all the time. Just being back into that feeling, I felt comfortable, I felt at home. In New Zealand, everyone's really active. We got to travel, we got to do stuff. It was a new start. I felt like I was at home, and I could be myself in New Zealand.
What was your favorite photo shoot throughout the show?
It was definitely all the shoots in New Zealand. I don't know. It was a completely different feel than the shoots in New York. I loved the vampire shoot though. I really loved doing that. CJ [the model] was awesome to work with. So every shoot in New Zealand and vampire, I think, would definitely be my favorites.
So how did you feel about your final photo shoot going into that last panel discussion?
I was really confident going in. I knew that Raina was starting to kind of deteriorate. She kind of lost her glow that she had in the beginning. Krista was on Cloud 9, but she didn't really agree with the photographer and Angelea said the same thing. So I felt just really pumped and really good about it. I felt that I did a really great job leaving the photo shoot. I was really confident that I was gonna be in the Top Two. So it was really surprising to not be.
You seemed really sad about your elimination, whereas Angelea was being more optimistic. So have you come to terms with it recently and seen the silver lining, going so far but just being a little short of the final prize?
Right. I really was, I was very pissed off whenever it concluded. Afterwards, I didn't even want to talk to anybody. I don't lose well to begin with. And to lose something like that, that you have really worked so hard for and you've seen yourself grow, that was really difficult. It was kind of an unfair justification of why I was eliminated. They kind of eliminated me, they didn't think I had a story or something. That was extremely frustrating. But now, looking back on it, I went so far and did really well. I'm really pleased with myself. But at that moment, I was not happy. It was very stressful.
What's something that people who watched you on the show might be surprised to learn about you?
Well actually, I'm not that furious of a person. They didn't capture any of our fun moments or our joking parts. They got me as being very furious and I'm totally not! Ninety-percent of the time, I'm a total goofball and doing something dumb. They didn't capture that part of my personality. You can't believe everything you see on TV.
What advice do you have for full-figured models, or plus-sized models, or just not-stick-thin models who want to make it big?
It's really important to be really well-rounded, no pun intended. Yeah, it is. It's really important to do multiple things in your life and have a lot of things to offer. You just can't show up somewhere and say, "I'm a model." It's important to have multiple things, have multiple talents and multiple interests. If you think you can do it, just run with it. It doesn't matter, I think, on the show, I did a good job of proving that you don't have to be a rail for someone to find you beautiful, or for yourself to find you beautiful. I think that's really important. Don't fall into everything society expects of you.
You said you're still in college, but are you still pursuing modeling as well?
Yes. I'm trying to finish up with my degree, I'm getting as much done this summer as I possibly can. But I definitely plan on running with the modeling thing in the fall and I'll come back and finish my degree.
What's the most surprising thing about your experience in Top Model?
I definitely learned who my real friends are throughout this experience. That was kind of an eye-opener. One of the biggest things I learned on the show is to trust myself, and to go with my gut-feeling on things. And I really learned to trust my instincts. There were some times where I doubted myself and I went with another direction and didn't do what I particularly wanted to. Being in Top Model
really showed me that I don't need to do that, I need to go with how I feel every time.More Top Model Cycle 14 Finale Interviews:
Model Angelea Preston
Model Cycle 14 Winner Krista White