It was Kayla Ferell's goal to be the first openly gay winner of America's Next Top Model,
and her beauty and talents as a model got her far toward that goal: All the way to the final four of cycle 15.
It may not have been in Tyra's cards for Kayla to win (as anyone who has been following along here knows I was hoping she would) but there's no doubt the experience was life-changing on many levels for the fresh-faced redhead from Rockford, Illinois.
Well, she's a redhead now, anyway. Just one of the many positives to come out of her time on Top Model. Here's what Kayla had to say about the others:
Hi Kayla, congratulations on being on Top Model, and doing so well in the competition. How are you feeling about the experience?
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It was a good experience, it's something I'll never forget, so I'm really glad that I went through and stuck it out when it was hard, and put up with the girls being catty and things like that. It was all worth it in the end.I was really surprised to see you get eliminated on Wednesday, as I'm guessing a lot of viewers were too. How did you feel during that judging ceremony?
It's kind of funny, because I kind of feel how a lot of people have been telling me they felt. I was kind of surprised too, because once I got in Italy, I started winning best photo every week that I was in Italy. Well, two weeks in a row. And I thought I was doing well. Like I was progressing. So when the elimination came around, and it was down to me, Jane and Chelsey, and only one person could make it, and I saw Chelsey's name get called, I was a little shocked because I had been doing well. You know, Chelsey, I love her, but she's never won best photo the entire time in the competition. She was doing well, but nothing really standout-ish. So when she got called before me, I was a little bit surprised.Who would you have chosen to go to the final two with you?
It would have been myself and Chelsey, only because with Jane, she has an absolutely beautiful face, but she has a lot of growing to do. Like at the statue shoot, she broke down, but that's late in the game to be breaking down. I think Jane could be a really, really big model with a little more time and a little more practice. Even Tyra and the other judges said it, she has an amazing face. And Ann, I wouldn't have chosen her just because she doesn't really have the whole Top Model personality. You know what I mean? If she's in a room, she's really quiet and doesn't really talk. That's not what Top Models are, which are spokespeople, pretty much, for Covergirl and a bunch of other things. So I would have chosen myself and Chelsey.There were a lot of people rooting for you, not just because you were doing so well in the competition--which you were--but we also saw a lot more vulnerable moments with you that we didn't see with the other models. How do you feel about revealing so much of your past and your life on TV?
Actually, you know, I had mixed emotions at the beginning. I was really concerned with how my family and other people close to me would feel. But when it was all said and done, and it had aired, I felt good about it. It was like a big boulder off my shoulder pretty much, and it felt good to get it off. But at the same time, I was kind of afraid even of how the judges would think of me. I was afraid they might think I was a weak person or something like that. When it was said and done, I felt positive about it, but in that moment I was really nervous about everything that I was saying.What did you think of the motion editorial?
It's funny that the motion editorial was honestly the funnest I had done in the entire competition. It was so much fun. And the entire time in that motion editorial, Tyra didn't say one negative thing about me at any time. She was just like, "Go! Kayla! You've got it!" and she'd scream ... I remember, she was just like, "Oh, yes!" She told me, "It's crazy how you can just flip from emotion to emotion." Like, "You're really good at this." So I was confident going into judging. I just felt like I got nothing but positive feedback.You got one of the more dramatic makeovers this season. Are you going to keep your hair red?
Yeah, I'm going to keep it red. A lot of the photographers and a lot of the people I met, when I told them I used to be a blond, said, "Oh my goodness, keep your hair red, it looks so good." So I figure, they know more than me, so I decided to keep it.What was the most challenging thing about the experience overall?
When I went into the competition, I had just gotten my first apartment with my girlfriend, and it was just kind of hard being away from her, because it was a new relationship and we still had that big puppy love, and I just missed her a lot. When I was on the show I thought about her all the time. It was hard. Oh, and my mom. I missed her, too!Which photo shoot was your favorite?
Probably the statue one. Toward the end of the competition, I started building a lot of confidence and I felt really comfortable in the photo shoots because, you know, me and Jane, we practiced a lot together at the house. And with every photo shoot that I did, I got better and better, so by that time I felt 100% comfortable and confident, and it turned out really well. I feel like that is the best photo I did.Do you feel like you gained a lot of relevant, real world modeling experience?
Definitely. I mean there were moments that weren't so real, like almost breaking my neck on a conveyor belt, but sometimes in modeling there are extreme photo shoots. There are things that are a little out of the ordinary, and I was faced with those. And I was faced with some real ones, too, like doing a photo shoot with Patrick Demarchelier on Rodeo Drive. Big time models do that, and the fact that I got to do that, even though it wasn't my best photo shoot, was absolutely great. I gained a lot of modeling experience, and it will be really good for me in the future.What does the future hold for you?
I actually have a couple of meetings with some agencies in Tokyo. I reached out to a couple, and one reached out to me, which felt really good because, you know, I've never had anybody reach out to me before! It felt good to know that people recognized me and recognized that I do deserve, you know, a modeling career further than just Top Model.
I'm excited about that. I leave December 8.(Image courtesy of CW)