Exclusive Interview with 'Top Model' Castoff Alisha White: 'I Was Giving 200 Percent' and It Wasn't Enough
Exclusive Interview with 'Top Model' Castoff Alisha White: 'I Was Giving 200 Percent' and It Wasn't Enough
After a series of exhausting tests, from impersonating Elton John on a trampoline to posing atop one of Asia's tallest towers in the wind and the rain, Britain's Alisha White reached her breaking point on this week's episode of America's Next Top Model: British Invasion. After landing in the bottom two yet again, rather than accept another reprieve from Tyra, the stunning strutter with "legs for days" opted to walk. 

Voluntary eliminations don't come often on Tyra's reality modeling show. After all, the sentiment of needing to "want this" more than anything is drilled into the girls' heads from day one. But viewers had watched week after week as Alisha floundered, fought and found fleeting success with the judges, only to get frustrated when that cycle of disappointment started again. (And again. And again.) By the end of this week's episode, before she got to the judging panel, she was questioning whether she wanted to continue modeling at all. So this particular walk-out wasn't exactly a surprise. But it was still a sad moment to see.

BuddyTV's Morgan Glennon caught up with Alisha yesterday and discussed her ups and downs on America's Next Top Model: British Invasion, and whether she found her spirit again after leaving the competition:

So you weren't asked to leave the competition. You actually choose to leave on your own. Can you take us through that decision process?

The whole decision process was I wasn't feeling like Alisha, and I wasn't happy. I felt like I had a bit of lack of direction. I didn't really know what the judges wanted from me, and I literally every week would beat myself up. "What do they want from me? Should I do this? Should I do that?" Literally I was giving 200 percent and I was exhausted. I was so exhausted. I was like, "I'm doing everything." 

If anything there was more pressure on me than the rest of the girls because every week I was in the firing line. So you know, I'm going to the shoots and I'm giving it. Even if I'm scared, I'm still doing it. And it's not enough, it wasn't even close to enough. I was so exhausted, physically and mentally exhausted, that I had to leave.

Do you have any regrets about leaving? How do you feel about your decision now?

No! I just feel great, I can't describe how I feel, but I feel like Alisha again. I actually feel like myself and even stronger than before, like so much stronger. I don't question myself and my ability to model, I I just feel like me. I feel like me, and if anything it's made me even more ambitious to just do it, just do things now. Don't question yourself, you know you're good.

I think what let me down in the competition is that I questioned myself too much. I was trying to be like a little puppy and trying to please everyone like "please like me, please like me!" And all of that time I was being myself, and I was beating myself up about being myself. It was just being ridiculous, you know what I mean? So I had to leave. I respect the other girls, and I respect the fact that they've got a dream as well, and I just wasn't happy.

Do you think that your previous modeling success had any impact on having a hard time when you were getting criticism and ending up in the bottom?

Definitely. Oh my god, you took the words right out of my mouth! The fact that I was the only girl from my series from Britain's Next Top Model, and I feel like they played off that a lot. Like, "Oh she's the only girl from her season!" I was the only black girl in the history of Britain's Next Top Model to ever get to the top two, in the history of the whole show. I do feel I was kind of, like 25 percent, given more of a hard time because of that. Like, "we want better from you."

But I was giving everything! I didn't understand what more I was meant to give. I was really confused about the direction and what they wanted from me. Did they want me to be fierce, did they want me to be cute, sexy, what was it that they wanted? I was totally confused, totally confused.

You mentioned that since you weren't really feeling great in the competition that you wanted to sort of step aside and let somebody else have that chance. Did you reconsider when Tyra said you'll be leaving but so will Eboni?

No, I didn't reconsider at all. Well obviously I was so disappointed that Eboni didn't get to stay. I was more hurt about that than actually leaving. I thought I really, really wanted Eboni to go through because I think she deserves it. You know what I mean?

But then at the same time I thought I have to do this for myself, because it's something that I need. I need to repair myself, I'm practically broken and I need some time to repair myself. Because I know if I stayed there another week I would have been so moany, I probably would have been horrible to the rest of the girls, it would've just been horrible. That's not me, that's not who I am. So I thought, "It's best to go home Alisha, it's best to go home."

The tower shoot in last night's episode looked absolutely crazy! And I don't know if this was just what showed on TV, but your shoot seemed especially bad with the wind and the rain. Did that add to you wanting to go home? What was that experience like?

Oh my god. I'm so skinny, as you can see. I'm real skinny. See that wind? I thought it was going to blow me off the tower! And this tower is basically in the clouds. Basically in the clouds! I was like, this is going to blow me off and my mom, my dad, no one is ever going to see me again! And I'm scared of heights. I'm so, so, so...I can't even express how scared. I was surprised I went on the tower.

I am too! When I saw how high it was and then when I saw it was raining I thought, "I would just be out, I would just be in the elevator." 

It was like hailstones and rain and wind and Nigel is moving and I was moving! And I'm just like, "I'm going to die today. Like, today." I was like, this is nuts. I don't know what made me go on that tower, but it was a fight. I'm not going to lie, it was a fight to want to be there. If people can't see that, then they're blind.

If my agent had come to me and said, "Alisha I've got a shoot on a tower and you're up this high," I would have said, "Don't book me for that, I'm not doing it. No way!" But obviously I wanted to be there, that's why I got on that tower. And I still tried to give everything I had and I was sh*t-scared. I was so scared. I would never want to replay that again, ever.

It looked horrible. Would you say that was the worst or the most challenging photoshoot you had, or was there another worse one this season?

Yeah! Yeah, that and being Elton John. I don't know who came up with that concept. I don't know who thought of Alisha and then put Elton John beside me. I don't know how that came into somebody's brain and thought, "oh that's a great idea!" I think that was a test, to be honest. I feel like I was tested in that shoot. Basically to the point where I broke down because, why Elton John? Come on. I respect that Elton John is an artist, but that wasn't me. But that tower, oh my Jesus. No, never again. No way.

What would you say the major difference being on America's Next Top Model and Britain's Next Top Model has been?

Britain's Next Top Model is a spinoff to America's. It's like America's like gold, yeah? America's like gold and Britain's is like bronze. That's the difference. It's like you want the gold. The gold is shining, it's glistening and you want that! But you don't mind having the bronze. That's how I see it. That's the difference, basically.

They were both equally fun. I had such a good time on both of them. I had more of a good time on America's because it was more exciting going up against the Americans. I love that, I love a good challenge. It's just unfortunate that people didn't see my modeling, my true supermodel ability. I'm really upset about that but hopefully you'll get to see, not with the show, me doing my own thing.

Did you feel like America got to see the real you when you watch the show on TV?

No, definitely not. I think the personality side, I think you guys got that definitely in my interviews and stuff. Because that's how I talk to my mom, my dad, that's how I talk to my friends. I guess you kind of got the personality, but model-wise I don't think you saw that. Not even a little bit. I think the music video was the first slightest thing where people were like, "Wow, OK, this is a bit different," because I actually felt like Alisha then. Literally there was no gimmicks, there were no characters, it was just me being myself.

It seems like your family is a really big part of your life. What do they think of you being on these shows? Do they watch it with you every week?

My mom and my dad and my brother, they're like ecstatic. They're like, "Oh my god!" They just love it. And I love the fact that they love it. My friends love it. And I love it! I love me some reality TV. I would do it all over again if I had to. I just love it. I love it.

You made it really far into the competition, so you did a lot of photoshoots. Which was your favorite? I think we covered your least favorite but which was your favorite one?

My favorites were definitely Hello Kitty and the music video. Because I felt like Alisha in those two. I felt strong in the Hello Kitty one. I just felt powerful, I felt like myself. In the music video I felt like Alisha, because that's something that I would do in my room. Put on a song and do a dance routine and pretend like I'm in a band, do you know what I mean? I would do that in my room, so I felt like myself. Those two definitely were star-quality shoots.

Did you see a difference between the British models and the American models?

The American models were like too cool for school. [Laughs] They're proper like, "I'm the sh*t and I know it." I was kind of shocked, to be honest. Like me, I love American people and I'm not offended by it. I think a lot of the other British girls were offended by it, like, "She's too cool for school." But for me, it was kind of good! Because the way they were going on made me think, "Well I need to think I'm the shit, I need to think I'm good."  

They've definitely got a different style. They've got a different style of walking. We walk quite stiff on the catwalk. We're taught to walk quite stiff and don't move your hips and no attitude in England. But the American girls they were moving those hips and they had attitude. I learned a lot from them and the way they model and stuff like that. They were amazing.

So out of the girls left, who are you rooting for?

None. [laughs] But if I had to pick one, it would definitely be Annaliese, because when I was feeling really down, Annaliese was there for me. She was so, so there for me, like a big sister. As a model you have to be a role model, and I really felt like at that moment she was a role model for me. But if I had to pick someone out of the kindness of my heart, I would pick her because she was loving and kind to me, and I feel that's a great quality to have. So her, definitely. But I don't think it will be her.

Who do you think it will be?

I think it will be either Laura or Sophie. But if I had to pick between those two, I think it would definitely be Sophie.

What's next for you?

For me I'm going to start my own clothing line, I'm going to write a new book and I've got acting qualifications, so I'll definitely be in some sort of drama or something like that. I've been working so hard. I've been going to castings, auditions, and I'm getting myself out there. This is not a standstill for me. I think it was a stepping stone, and it was only a small aspect of my life. But I'm only 21 and I've got so much more ahead of me, and I'm so eager and passionate to learn and to do better.

This has just made me a much stronger person. Now I know that I have the ability to say no to people and not be scared of the reaction. This is all a learning curve, and I'm just so happy that I got the chance to be on America's Next Top Model.

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of CW)