was the runner-up on Bravo's Make Me A Supermodel
, right behind winner Holly Kiser
. All season long, Ronnie was a strong contender, despite enduring the criticism that he is too all-American to be a high-fashion model. He was also one of the more entertaining models to watch on the show, establishing almost immediately his crush on fellow male model Ben DiChiara
Ronnie spoke to BuddyTV about what it was like to be sequestered on the show for three months, and about his opinion of Make Me A Supermodel
compared to that other
modeling show on the CW. He talked about his crush on Ben that blossomed into a beautiful friendship, and he also revealed that his lifelong aspirations reach far beyond modeling, as he hopes to get more involved in politics and legislation. Below, you will find an audiofile and a complete transcript of the interview.
Hey everybody. This is Debbie at BuddyTV, and I'm talking to Ronnie from Make Me A Supermodel. Hey, Ronnie, how's it going?
Hey, Debbie. It's going great. Thanks for asking. How are you?
I'm fine. So, what was it like to go in front of the judges for the final time, your final panel, and wait for the verdict?
You know, it's unlike anything. It's kind of hard to explain. I mean, I think I went through every emotion in that very moment, waiting before the panel to find out what America had decided. For the last three months, we've all worked so very hard to grow and change and become better models, and all that hard work came down to that one moment. It was exciting, it was nerve-wracking, it was stressful, just very, very emotional.
Looking back on your 12 weeks, what stands out for you?
You know, I think what stand out for me over the last 12 weeks was my ability to listen, stay focused and truly grow. I mean, I'm definitely a different model than I was when I came in to this competition. I feel like I've learned a great deal, not only about what it means to be a model, but I've learned some really great life lessons. I've learned not to take things for granted because, you know, being sequestered for three months. It's model boot camp, pretty much, and taking things for granted like family and relationships and just being able to walk out the door and grab a cup of coffee or a newspaper, you couldn't do. And, when you were having those hard days, you couldn't call up that person, like my mom. I'd call her up and be like, "It's been a rough day, and I need someone to say it's going to be okay." We didn't have that luxury. So, walking away from this competition, I have a new outlook on life, I have a fresh attitude, and I'm just excited. With all these opportunities that Bravo has given us, I just want to be working every day. The thing about this industry is, you never know what's around the next corner.
You kept getting a lot of criticism from the judges and from photographers for not being edgy enough, but you were able to improve on that over the season. But, I'm wondering, you know, for the non-modeling population out there, what do you do to improve on that? Like, how do you do that?
You know, that's a great question, and I think Jennifer Starr said it best when we were in New Orleans. She said that I was pretty much at a disadvantage from the get-go during that week because my look does not lend itself to being very hard or edgy in that way, like, gothic. You know, to be a supermodel doesn't mean that you fit every mold, but it's being able to be cast in the right niche and being able to work the heck out of that niche – work hard and become the best of the best in that area. For me, the comments about being all-American was them saying, "You're not really high-fashion New York, but there's other things that you can be doing to become a supermodel. And you need to be focused on that just be aware of that." I mean, there's not a whole lot you can do. You gotta do the best that you can with what you've been given. God made me look like this, so I gotta work it.
Like Jennifer said, there's things that I could do to be a little bit more high fashion editorial, like leaning out and doing a lot more cardio than weightlifting. There's a point at which you can become too muscular, and that's great for sports ads and things like that, but when you're high fashion, you need to be fitting sample clothing. There's only certain sizes that you can fit into. If you're too muscular, you'll be busting out of the suit and it won't look very good. There's things that you can do with your diet, there's things that you can do to take care of yourself, like, just getting a lot of rest, just trying to stay as stress-free as possible. You know, it's all about re-inventing yourself in this industry too, because it's so competitive. You gotta stay in tune with what the fashion world is calling for, and trends change. One day, your look is in, and another day, it's out. And you gotta be able to be a chameleon.
So, what's your dream? Do you want to do high fashion, or are you going to carve out your own niche that is specific to you?
You know, I think, for me, it's about following my own path. I don't think I've ever been a conformist. Definitely, this experience in New York has opened my eyes to what the modeling industry really is. I think I came in with a lot of preconceived notions of what it was, just based on my experience in Chicago. But I feel like my horizons have definitely been broadened. I will definitely take anything that would be given to me. I'm not going to be picky, that's for sure. I'll always remain focused, stay strong. There's always going to be people out there that are naysayers. You're always going to get picked apart. You just gotta stay true to yourself and keep your integrity, and that's what I feel I've done in this competition, and I'll continue to do in this industry as I move forward. I'm excited to see what's next. I just got my freedom last night, and I got to check some emails and things like that. There's some offers on the table, some jobs that hopefully I'll be looking into doing, and we'll see where it goes from there.
Great, that's awesome. And you mentioned Chicago, and that reminds me of the millions of times that Tyson said that you had the Chicago look. And, what is that?
You know, I think Tyson, he's kind of trying to say, it's that homegrown, Midwestern kind of attitude, boy from Chicago. Because coming into this, I'm very much a Midwestern guy. You know, Chicago all the way. We smile at people on the street, whether they are strangers or familiar faces. Here in New York, it's a lot busier, it's a lot more populated. People really don't have a lot of time – they're trying to get from point A to point B. And for me, if I start to smile to people on the street, they'd be like, "What's that weirdo doing? What's he looking at me like that for?" New York just has a much stronger edge than Chicago, being that it is the fashion capital. It's just edgier. People just have a different attitude than in Chicago. So, I kind of brought that attitude to New York, and while I didn't need to become arrogant, I had to be more standoffish and a little bit more... "Less cheese" is the comment I always got. I was always grade-A cheese.
Okay. Here's this question that I'm dying to ask. So, you were the subject of a lot of gossip in the house, being one half of Bronnie. I don't even know what to ask now.
[laughs] Well, I'd have to say that, going into this competition, I was excited. I was going to be the only gay guy, and I said, that's a good thing for me because I won't have any distractions. Then, I got into the house, and there was Ben. Ben was definitely my crush in the beginning of this competition that turned into just an incredibly beautiful friendship. And I know they call it a "bromance." People back home in Chicago are calling it a "bromo-mance" because a bromance can only be between two straight guys. There was a lot of speculation but really, it's just an incredible friendship. We're so different, but yet, we're so alike. And it was moving to me how close we were able to become in three months because we said from the very beginning, if we're going to stay strong in this competition, we need to form an alliance. And our alliance was a friendship as well. We built levels of trust that I think other competitors in the house just didn't have, and we were able to stay out of a lot of the drama that went on. We were able to refocus each other, help each other out, and I really believe that that helped us immensely throughout the competition.
I think that your friendship with Ben really won you fans too. Do you think helped you stay in the competition?
You know, I can't speak for America. I mean, maybe there were people out there that wanted to see the bromance continue to live on. But, personally, I'd like to believe that our fan base supported us for all the right reasons, because they saw us growing as models, seeing us evolving and seeing us changing, and, I think, above anything else, saw that we held our integrity throughout the show, and we remained focused, and we weren't trying to be anything than what we were. You know, I think, oftentimes, you go into situations like this, and you're kind of set on who you're going to portray yourself to America. And I think that we were able to just be ourselves. And a lot of times, the difficult task for a director of a reality show is to break that wall that people put up. You know, there's ways that we all want to be seen, and then there's reality. And I think what Bravo was able to do through Make Me A Supermodel was just do incredible things with keeping the integrity of the show. You know, I think it put America's Next Top Model to shame. I think it looks like child's play. I've been able to see all the episodes, and I'm just very proud of being on the show. Anywhere we go from here is up. To be part of this, and to now look back, it's kind of nostalgic. It's like, it's all over. It's all ended, but it's also a new beginning for all of us. I'm just so thankful for this opportunity and to have been at the right place at the right time. I mean, I found the audition just by being on craigslist, doing my daily routine of checking for jobs, and it was there, and I'm like, "Why not? Let's try it out. What's the worst that could happen?"
Wow, that's great. And, now that you're back in the real world, what do you plan to do now?
You know, I think at some points in this competition, I was ready to dive right into moving to New York, but I've had some time to think more clearly about it. I don't make any jumps that aren't calculated. I think I need to go home, spend some time with my family who I missed like you can't even believe. It's so weird being so far away from them for this amount of time. But I want to spend some quality time with my family, reconnecting with my friends. I have a not-for-profit business back at home that I really need to continue to focus on. And I need to feel out what market and what industry I really need to focus on. And if that means I need to go to Miami or L.A. or stay in Chicago, or perhaps move to New York, but I want to make sure if I do take any risks – and I will – that I will have thought them out and seek as much professional advice as possible.
That sounds like a really good plan, and I and all of our readers, we have no doubt that you'll succeed in the future. So, we hope to see you in a campaign somewhere.
Well, you definitely will. I definitely have political aspirations, and I just have a genuine passion. I want to learn more about legislation. You know, I think it's incredible that we live in a country where we do have the freedom to get involved with what goes on. I think oftentimes that people think that their one voice can't make a difference, but I'm here today to say that it can. And it's exciting to see the youth of America getting more involved with where our country is going and getting more interested in the decisions that will affect our daily lives.
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of Bravo)