Whitney, a college student from West Palm Beach, Florida, became the seventh girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model Cycle 8. After being paired off with Shannon Stewart from Cycle 1 and having her best photo shoot yet, Whitney was shocked to find herself in the bottom two for a third week in a row, this time, to be sent home. Whitney took some time to talk to us at BuddyTV about her experience on the show, what we didn't get to see on TV, and her plans to pursue modeling and acting.
BuddyTV: How did you initially get involved with America’s Next Top Model?
Read the full interview transcript and listen to the audio below.
Whitney: Well, I had just quit the basketball team at Dartmouth and I was kind of looking for my next move. So I decided to go and try out for Cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model. And I think I made it kind of far in the audition process, but I didn’t make the semifinals. So I started modeling on my own and just building my portfolio and testing with different photographers and just trying my hand at the whole modeling industry. And then I got called back right before I was about to pack my bags and go back to school from one of the casting director’s assistants from ANTM. And she was asking me to come back and audition again because Michelle, the casting director, wanted to meet me in person because she remembered me from when I auditioned from Cycle 7. So I auditioned for Cycle 8 and here I am today.
Were you always a big fan of the show?
Totally. I used to be a Top Model crack addict when it first came on television. Watched it like crazy and I think Cycle’s 1, 3, 6, and 7 and of course 8 were probably my favorite cycles. So yeah, totally a Top Model fiend.
Getting into last night’s episode, you were pretty excited when you found out about the acting challenge. Did you think that you should have won that challenge?
You know, Renee did a really good job. I didn’t really get to see my performance because they didn’t really show a lot of it on television, so I didn’t get to look at it from the outside. I think I was probably a really close second to Renee, and honestly, I’m really glad that Renee won that challenge because she really was trying to change her whole outlook on life and be a different person. And it was good that she saw the rewards of being a nice person and she got to see her family and her baby and her husband. So I’m glad for Renee.
Last night you had the opportunity to reenact poses with past contestants of the show and you were paired up with Shannon. How did you feel about that shoot?
Oh, I thought it was awesome. You guys didn’t get to see this on TV, but Mr. Jay told me that I had finally learned what it meant to be a model and that I really modeled my tail off in that photo shoot. So I really came out of that photo shoot with total confidence and I had no idea that I would have gotten sent home at elimination. And I was totally disappointed when I landed myself in the bottom-two and of course, when I got the boot.
What were your initial thoughts when you found yourself in the bottom-two for the third week in a row?
Yeah, it was a total disappointment and I think you could totally see it on my face last night because it was kind of like, gosh, not again, are you serious? So I was totally disappointed because I didn’t see it coming. So maybe it was a good thing, maybe it was a bad thing. I don’t know, you can look at it from either angle. But, you know, if I had to go out, at least I went out with a bang and at least I went out knowing that I myself tried my hardest. So, you know, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Tyra and the judges all agreed that you’re absolutely beautiful in person, but they just didn’t feel like your beauty and personality were coming through in your photos. Did you agree with their feedback?
You know one thing that I must say is you have to remember that America’s Next Top Model is a reality television show and you have to realize that the extremity of the photo shoots are because it’s Cycle 8. And they have to do stuff that’s not really reminiscent of the modeling and the fashion industry nowadays. I think it was last season when I was watching the girls when they had to get into this air tube and float and reach for Cover Girl cosmetics. I mean, I just don’t believe that happening in the normal fashion and modeling industry, granted I know they do some crazy stuff. I just think that America’s Next Top Model takes it to that next level because it is a reality television show. So I don’t think that I was able to find a balance between the extremity of the photo shoots and having to go on set and having to act like a goon on set and you know, model at the same time. I just don’t really think I can find that balance. Because if you look at my “pre-ANTM” portfolio, and my “while-on-ANTM” portfolio, they’re two totally different things. Before America’s Next Top Model and probably after America’s Next Top Model, I’ll walk into a set, I’ll be very profession, I’ll do what I’m being paid to do and you know, I’ll go home. You know what I mean? But on ANTM, you have to go on and have so much bubbliness and over-the-topness because it’s a reality television show because you don’t want the judges to say you fell flat when you’re on set, which you probably wouldn’t be required to have under normal circumstances.
What was the best part of your experience being on the show?
I think the best part of being on the show was the fact that I got to meet so many different people. I’m a Sociology major in school, so, just being around people and being exposed to people who are from different walks of life is just something that I really enjoy. And of course my $40,000 diamond bracelet is a perk. (Laughs) So those were probably my most favorable and most memorable moments.
Do you have any predictions or favorites on who you think will win this competition?
I have some favorites. I would probably say my top two favorites in the competition right now are Dionne and Jaslene. Dionne because I’ve seen her grow and blossom and turn into this beautiful poised, classy woman, and Jaslene because, I say this time after time, some girls want to grow up and be doctors and some girls want to be lawyers, and Jaslene wants to be America’s Next Top Model. (Laughs) So I wish both of them the best because they are my favorite girls left in the competition and I hope that one of them comes out on top and the other one is the close second.
So what are your plans now? I know you had mentioned when you left the show that you weren’t sure if modeling was for you, but is that still something you’re still thinking about pursuing?
Yeah, you know, when I said that, I think that was my lowest moment of defeat ever in life and I really feel as though I let somebody tell me that I couldn’t do it, and I believed them. And I try to pride myself on having the life motto that if somebody tells you that you can’t, prove to them that you can. And when I watch myself on the episode last night, I was totally shocked and dismayed that I let them get me down like that. So yes, I totally and undoubtedly am going to continue to pursue modeling, because it’s something that I have a passion for and I never want to let anybody take that fire and that passion away from me. And I’m going to continue to do acting also. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have my own talk show because that’s something I always wanted to do. So the sky’s the limit.
Based on your experience being on the show, do you have any advice for young girls that might be interested in also pursuing a career in modeling?
Yeah, totally. You know what, I think that a lot of the time we watch videos and especially in this generation, everybody wants to become a video vixen. But just know that you don’t have to be a video vixen to be a legitimate model, you don’t have to always take off your clothes and probably do things you wouldn’t do just to be a model. You can be a legitimate model and if you want to go out for America’s Next Top Model, show your personality off, exude confidence and beauty, and shine from the inside out and the outside in. So that’s basically what I would tell anybody who’s going out for America’s Next Top Model or anybody who even wanted to be a model, to always be you and always have confidence.
Do you have any final thoughts about last night or the show in general?
You know, the show was an awesome experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I always jokingly say that I could write a thesis on my experience on America’s Next Top Model. But you know it was a really great experience. I have nothing negative to say about it. I think they portrayed me very well and they made me seem like the crazy, outgoing person that I am. So America’s Next Top Model was a great jumping off point, and it gave me a lot of exposure, so I’m so excited to see what could come of it.
(Interview conducted by Royce Yuen)