Tatianna Kern, 21, a student from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, made herself memorable from the first moment she stepped in front of the America's Next Top Model judges--not just for her naturally beautiful features, but also because of her chosen profession: volunteer mortician.
That willingness to explore where others might be afraid to tread helped Tatianna in the modeling realm as well. Despite it being her first professional modeling job ever, she jumped into the first challenge, a nude shoot, with no fear, and produced a shot that made Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley exclaim, "I would buy it!"
I spoke to Tatianna about her Top Model experience, including her elimination this week after a lackluster faux fashion shoot.
Read our full interview after the jump.
Did you have any previous modeling experience before the show?
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I didn't really have any professional modeling experience. People wanted to practice photography and they'd ask, "Can I practice taking shots of you?" and so that's what I did. I also did some mall shows--hair shows or makeup shows. But nothing professional that I could draw any experience from.How does one become a volunteer mortician?
I was interested in becoming a medical examiner, and so in order to get experience with the fact that you're going to be around a lot of dead bodies, I went to the mortuary and told them, "I have this passion and I want to go to school to be a medical examiner," during my freshman year of college. So I asked, "Can I help out with you guys? Can I just volunteer here and see what goes on, see the bodies, see what's inside the anatomy?" And they were like, "Great, come on in." I help out with embalming, not necessarily with cremation.Are you still planning on going into that career field?
Of course. I am just about to graduate with my undergraduate degree in microbiology, and hopefully next year I'll be able to go on to medical school. It's always been my love.What was your favorite photo shoot on Top Model?
I absolutely loved the nude one. I know everybody's thinking, "You must love the vampire one, the blood was totally your thing," but I just love the nude one because it was the first one. I had no experience, they just ran us up there and said, "Go model." I was like, "Oh God. I'm not sure what to do." I felt totally comfortable being nude, it's just that it was so fresh to be modeling that it made me feel really excited. After achieving what I did in the first photo shoot, I was just really happy about it.How did it feel to have so little experience and then go into panel and have Andre Leon Talley go crazy over your photo?
Actually, I had no idea who he was! I felt so embarrassed. All the other girls were freaking out, and I was like, "Oh God, I don't even know who that guy is." Tyra was speaking so highly of him, and I felt kind of intimidated because a lot of the other girls had such heavy background in modeling. And so when I did do the photo shoot, even though I wasn't scared to go to panel, I thought they would have such better shots. But even the girls who had years of modeling experience behind them didn't do as well. So I thought, "Well I guess that's how it's going to be for the rest of the competition." You can't really rely on years of experience to know what ALT loves, because he loved Alasia like no other, and she has absolutely no modeling experience.What did you think of your makeover?
I wasn't particularly fond of the blonde hair. Initially I had a weave put in--a really heavy, heavy weave. It took seven hours to get my hair from dark brown to a golden blonde, and I was sitting there, my neck is cracking off, getting this heavy weave put in. And as soon as I had the weave done, ten minutes later I had to get it redone. Eventually during the course of the show they took out the weave because it was just too horrible to even bear. Immediately when they said it was okay to change back to my brown hair, I did.There seems to be a lot of drama this season, mostly from the three A's: Angelea, Alasia and Anslee. Where did you stand on all the drama--did you stay out of it?
Definitely. I think one time I was sitting there when Ren and Alasia were arguing, just sitting there eating breakfast, and Alasia came in all crazy nuts, and I was like, "Oh dear, I don't even know what to do with this." When girls are arguing I like to look at them and see why they're arguing ... especially Alasia, she's so interesting to just watch yell because you don't even know what she's talking about! But I never was a part of any of the battles, because I never found a reason for it. But it was really funny to watch. We're all trying to fight for the same goal, and that's your competition, so you're going to try to make her feel weaker, you're going to try to put her down. You want her to feel like less of a person, because you want to win. So when you get a bunch of girls in front of the camera it's totally not surprising that drama goes down all the time.In this last week, were you surprised to end up in the bottom two?
Actually, no I wasn't surprised. Because I was really confident the first couple shoots, but as I finished the last shoot I thought, "That just felt flat to myself." I could tell from Jay's feedback, he was like "Ehhh ... " So having that feeling, I just was like, "Well, I deserved it." Who do you think should win now that you're out of the running?
I have a couple loves in the competition. I love Alexandra. She's a plus-size model, she's great. She's so gorgeous. Even though they keep taking her profile shot, it makes me so angry, I know she could do so much better. And I also love Krista. She's got great bone structure, and she takes really great photos. I love them both.Are you going to continue modeling in the future?
Yes, I hope to continue modeling. With this show and all the exposure that comes with it, you hope that it will launch your career farther.