Exclusive Interview: Naduah Rugley of 'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 14
Exclusive Interview: Naduah Rugley of 'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 14
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Given her unique look, passionate personality and inspiring background (she was raised in a cult, a subject she openly discussed on the show but asked to move on from in post-show interviews), it seemed not just possible, but likely, that Naduah Rugley would rise above the drama, and through the ranks, on America's Next Top Model this season.

But the judging panel--led by Tyra Banks and newly galvanized by the talkative Andre Leon Talley--had other plans for this articulate 22-year-old mother from San Diego. After two challenging photo shoots that exposed her skin, and her tendency toward "classic" posing, the judges deemed Naduah an unpleasant contradiction between edgy and elegant, and sent her home.

I spoke to Naduah last Friday, two days after her second and final America's Next Top Model episode aired. Hear and/or read our conversation about her Top Model experience after the jump.

This is Meghan from BuddyTV and I'm on the line with Naduah from America's Next Top Model Cycle 14. How are you doing today?

Great, and yourself?

Very good. I'm excited to talk to you because even though you were only on the show for two episodes, you made quite a splash.


You should be very proud of the perception that you gave to America. I thought you were very strong.

Thank you, I appreciate that.

What motivated you to try out?

I've always had the desire to model, and I've been modeling for a while, mostly in the south of Mexico. When I have the opportunity to do the show, it was amazing to me that I could possibly meet Tyra Banks and meet the Jays and all these other people who are so well-versed in everything that I want to do professionally. So I gave it my all, and I sent in a tape, and I went to the L.A. audition, and fortunately they found me qualified to participate.

How did you feel about the makeover that they gave you, bleaching your eyebrows?

It was interesting. I was a little disappointed because I wanted more, I guess. I was hoping that maybe they would, like, make designs or buzz cut or bleach my hair. Just something really different. But the eyebrows was interesting, and a look I had never had before. And I like to be creative, so I welcomed it.

How did you get along with the other girls?

I got along okay. It's fairly easy for me when I have my sights set on something to not pay too much attention to, you know, whether or not I should be comfortable with other people. And with the other girls, even though I was a sore thumb, I was very different from all of them, it wasn't that big a deal for me because my passion was to model, my passion was to do well on the show, and to do well in general. So how I felt about the girls didn't affect me too much. But some of them were very lovely, and others I didn't get to speak to too much. In general it was mostly interesting interacting.

Your look was very strong, and you did have a lot of modeling experience, so I'm wondering, since the judges said they expected so much from you from the very beginning, do you think that that strong first impression you gave actually ended up hurting you?

It would be easy to assume, but I think the only problem is that when someone's confident, sometimes they can come across as they're not willing to open their view or open doors to other things. And since I already have a very set style, my heroes being everyone classy, from Lauren Bacall to Audrey Hepburn, et cetera, it's easy to assume that I cannot do anything else.

But, at the same time, I'm very versatile. I suppose I just didn't have enough time. I didn't try hard enough to show them that. So perhaps. Perhaps it did hinder me to have that kind of previous experience, but at the same time it is what has made me, and it is what makes me strong. Whether or not I was able to demonstrate that to the judges, I think it is obvious that I have the ability to go from one thing to another, if you look at my previous work and you look at my passion for modeling. At least I was able to give that impression, that I am dedicated to it, so I am able to do all aspects.

For the two photo shoots that you did, they definitely put you in some challenging positions. Which photo shoot did you enjoy more, the nude photo shoot or the fragrance beauty shot?

It's difficult to say. I think I enjoyed them equally. The first I enjoyed because it's interesting to do a nude photo shoot. It's interesting to show yourself in a graceful and feminine way while completely naked, and actually not showing anything personal. And when we had to grab items, I was very excited to grab the sunglasses because it was fun getting to show off sunglasses only. It's usually easier to show off a purse, or a shirt, or shorts, et cetera, but sunglasses, you really have to work it.

As far as the perfume shot, it was a very cold day. So going out there in so little in New York on the top of that building, with air and water blowing into your face, it was exhilarating. And so I felt wonderful. I felt alive at the moment. And I was certain that there were at least several wonderful pictures in there. And I was disappointed that I couldn't continue in all the other projects I know the girls got to do. But that's how everyone feels about things they love.

Were you happy with the final photos you got from each shoot?

Quite frankly--even though I do think they are nice, you know, not fabulous--it did seem to me that there must have been something missing. Knowing my work, they seemed okay, you know? Like, what happened that day, that they weren't superb? They weren't sublime? Because so often I come across a photograph I did, and I'm impressed with myself. When I see that photograph I say, "Nice job. But not great." So, even though I don't think it was worthy of me leaving the show, I don't think they were, you know, #10 photographs. I think they could have been greater.

You were pretty confident going into elimination because you felt like your photo shoots had gone well, so what was your reaction to the judges' critiques?

As far as my reaction to critiques, while receiving critiques in general, I like to have an open mind. You know, they know so much more than I do. So while I have a particular idea, I'm there to learn from them, you know? So I just try to pay attention, and try to log it away for future experiences.

But, at the same time, it did seem like something was missing. Even though I do have a very classic attitude, and even though I'm more glamorous and dramatic than maybe cut-up and edgy, it didn't seem like enough for me to leave. Because, you know, we're there to learn. So you teach a girl what she needs to do, and you watch how she handles it, and how she adapts and uses in the future. And in this instance, I was told what my problem was, but then I wasn't given the opportunity to show I can do the opposite. So it felt like something was missing.

But I didn't want to be disrespectful, and I didn't want to give the impression that I wasn't grateful for everything that was already given to me, so it's just something you have to take in stride, something you have to accept.

Tyra was on Twitter this morning and said that she wished you were still in the competition, and that she loved your photograph with the sunglasses. How do you respond to that?

Oh! [Laughs] I'm very flattered Tyra still thinks of me, and I'm very flattered she considers me, you know, a well-rounded individual and model. I feel like she did inspire me, and I feel like she is a wonderful person. I thank her for appreciating me.

Now that you're out of the competition, which model would you choose to win?

It's kind of difficult for me to answer that because, unfortunately, I didn't get to talk enough to all of them. But from the beginning the one I said I wanted to continue was Raina, because she just seems like, I don't know, so full of life, and so lovely, and she's just quite different physically. And I realize now, having seen parts of the episode, that she didn't really care for me, you know, she misunderstood me and we had differences. But that doesn't change what a person is as a model, and I still wish her the greatest, and I do hope that she is the one who gets the title.

So what's in the future for you now?

Hopefully a lot more modeling. A lot more modeling, and a lot more mothering, considering that my greatest responsibility is my daughter and her daddy, who's my fiance, and I hope to continue to do great things with this career, and provide my family, and myself, with a great future through it.

Your daughter and your fiance must be very proud of you, and it was a pleasure watching you, so we wish you all the best.

Thank you very much.