Exclusive Interview: Allison Harvard of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 12
Yesterday I had the pleasure of chatting with Allison Harvard, the runner-up of Cycle 12 of America's Next Top Model. Allison was an unlikely contestant and fan favorite for America's Next Top Model with her unique fashion-forward look and quirky personality. Allison endeared herself to fans by being unafraid to show what a "square" she was and for her geeky uncontrolled outbursts, like telling Tyra she was "so pretty" or that she was jealous of her nose bleeds. After struggling with Allison's 'one look,' the judges came to appreciate Allison's edgy editorial features and she won three of the final four photo challenges.
Allison and I chatted about her surreal time on America's Next Top Model, her dream modeling job, her unique aesthetic, and getting rid of her big blonde mane.
This is Abbey from BuddyTV and this morning I'm talking with Allison Harvard, the runner up of Cycle 12 of America's Next Top Model. How are you doing this morning, Allison?
I am doing really well this morning. Thank you.
You seem like a pretty unlikely contestant for ANTM. How did you come to be on the show?
I think everything that happened was just a lot of happenstance. Everything just lined up in a really fantastic way. Everything was unplanned and it was kind of wonderful in that right.
What was life like in the house?
It was like mass chaos a lot of the time. Especially towards the end, but in the beginning, there were so many of us that you're getting to know a lot of really strong personalities, and you want to respect everybody and get along swimmingly. It was just a lot of downtime in the beginning so all we had was each other. It was pretty intense. But it was really interesting, especially since I've never been around that many girls in one spot before.
Was it more surreal for you to film or to watch yourself on America's Next Top Model?
It was certainly bizarre. I don't feel like anything can prepare you for waking up and having a camera two inches from your face. They really enjoyed filming me while I was laying in bed sleeping. I'd wake up and, like, scream because there would be a camera pressed against my cheek. I guess you can't help but get used to it a little bit or adjust accordingly to the situation and the environment that you're in. But every morning you wake up and you still can't believe that you're on a reality television show. It's really kind of a fantastic realization but watching it, it's more so like you're an objective third party looking into it. It's absolutely incredible and an archive of a specific time in your life. It was a whirlwind kind of thing. I can't believe it's over. It happened so fast.
Watching the show were you pleased with your edit in that they kept your quirkiness in and let you fly your nerd flag high?
I was really pleased with my edit. I felt like it was actually very accurate. But I was also thankful that I was basically exactly who I was in real life. There was no need for me that change or alter that in any way. I mean, what's the point? I felt like I was able to maintain my sanity even though at times, you know, it was fairly difficult. I did receive a very accurate edit, and it is nice to have that. I've heard some horror stories from the other girls about things being spliced and moved around a bit. But I am pleased with my edit.
What was your favorite photoshoot during your time on America's Next Top Model?
My favorite had to have been the bird photoshoot. It was so beautiful where we were shoot - in the jungle - and I think at that point in the competition I had gotten a lot more comfortable with the competition and just the way that things were going - certainly more comfortable with myself. It was a huge self-discovery process so by that point I had mellowed out and decided, "Oh, okay. I'll mellow out about it and not be such a basket case."
Do people come up to you now and go "You're pretty!" after the Tyra thing?
I do get that a little bit. I remember the second I said that to Tyra... it was one of those things where I was thinking it and then I said it and she was like, "What did you say?" And then I was kind of just like, "Uhhh..." You don't really want to repeat it so it was just kind of like, "Oh, how embarrassing!" It was just like I was thinking it and then I said it and I was just like, "I am such a square. I am such a nerd." Like, did I really just say that?
But that's what makes you so lovable!
You have a very unique style and aesthetic. I've spent the whole cycle describing you as a Mark Ryden painting come to life.
You're welcome! Where do you draw your inspiration for your aesthetic and your look?
I guess - not with art or anything but just my aesthetic and how I carry myself and the way I dress - I think it's a combination of things. You collect idea and inspirations as you grow. I certainly think music and people I've looked up to have to do with it. I'm just a train wreck all the time because I like wearing things that are 500 sizes too big. But I'm also about baby doll dresses and Courtney Love stuff. I'm sort of stumbling over what I'm saying. This isn't really great. I wish I could elaborate more.
What about the art that you do?
Oh, well I guess a get a lot of inspiration for my art from my dreams. A lot of people like to keep a journal and I like the record the dreams I have in paintings or in drawings. I have a lot of reoccurring characters and I kind of doctor them in my head. With or without that I'm able to keep track of them and have a little diary of that in a drawing instead of in a journal.
So what have people's reactions been to you? You're definitely a fan favorite. Do you get recognized on the street? Do people react positively towards you?
Yeah, I have been getting noticed quite a lot. It's very flattering and I am so socially inept sometimes that I'm not used to people being like, "Oh! It's Allison Harvard!" And I'm like, "That's true!"
That is my name!
I'm just like, "Fact!" But my whole thing is that I don't ever want to make someone feel silly or stupid for approaching me. I don't ever want to make someone feel awkward for doing that because I might be a little bit socially uncomfortable; because I'm trying to feel this situation out for myself, because this is new for me. But I don't ever want to make anyone feel silly or stupid for coming up to me because I think it's the sweetest thing in the world. So that's just my main thing. I just want to make people feel comfortable.
Did you keep your big blonde mane?
Oh, bless you for that. So what are you looking like now?
I lightened my hair, actually. I was going to dye my hair really, really dark but I thought everyone on the show would probably have a panic attack since it wasn't over when I was wanting to do that. My hair was actually not colored at all whenever they did it, so now it's so color-free that I thought I might as well go really dark because I have a lot of wigs. I'm sort of a nerd with wigs. I have about fifteen. But I thought I would actually go a little crazy with myself. But I lightened my hair and I had the extensions taken out because I started kind of looking like I had mange. So it was for the best for everyone's sanity. It's much more sanitary now.
Mmhmm. There's something about those weaves from ANTM. So, last night on Wikipedia it said you had signed with Nous Model Management in LA. Is that true or is that a Wiki lie?
Oh my gosh. Wiki Lie, how cute sounding! Actually, on the Tyra Show, they offered Fo and I a contract and I haven't actually made a decision for sure yet. It's kind of up in the air. I'm adjusting to the situation and possible changes I might undergo. It's very overwhelming right now. I'm so excited. Everyone at Nous I've spoken to has been so sweet and so friendly. I haven't made any commitments just yet, but if I were to go with them that would be amazing.
Going into the future of your modeling career - where I expect you to be another one of those very successful ANTM runners up - what's your dream modeling job?
My dream modeling job would probably be in Tokyo! I also just want to get a giant learning experience out of this. Especially with the photography aspect of this I just have so much to learn. I have so many things that I can just benefit from by watching, understanding, and following through the motions of it. I'm all about editorial things and very creative photography. I'm just really good at depicting a certain thing and it makes a bunch of different people feel different ways. I love a picture that can make a million different people feel a million different ways. I think that's fantastic. I just really like the creative aspect of it and I would definitely be more for the editorial, or the more bizarre photo shoots that make people think.
Yeah. That's what you're made for, and I think your look would go over great in the Asia, with the popularity of anime and your big eyes.
If it worked it would be wonderful. It would to be super for me. I'm down for that.
Going into the finale did you have a feeling about who was going to win? Watching it, it felt pretty clear that the judges really adored Teyona. Did it feel that way competing as well?
You know, so much of what we see isn't shown and it was made a bit more unclear to us, certainly by process of elimination. Celia and I were the conspirators of it all. We were just observing everything. I'm all about observation and you pick up little things here and there.
Teyona is a fantastic girl, and she is no nonsense when it comes to photoshoots. She can carry herself very well. Me - I just fall apart a lot. Certainly in the beginning I was more of a basket case and I didn't really understand what was going on. But Teyona deserves it, and I feel like you can see your way around who's going to get voted off. But there were some surprises for us. I certainly didn't expect some of the girls to go as far as they did and I didn't expect to stay around as long as I did.
Lastly, it sounds like there are a lot of changes and things happening in your life, and modeling is not a job where you can do a four-year plan or anything. But what's your next step?
I just finished a semester at UNO. I'm probably going to take some time off to pursue modeling, or at least try. I'm never going to be 21 again. I can always go back to school. It will always be there for me. I'm an art major but I've always been doing art and painting on my own time. Those are the projects I care about most anyway, so I'll still have that. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing and I'm being given these amazing opportunities. It only seems like the right decision to execute a lot of things that I'm capable of doing right now because when is it ever going to happen again? It's just really exciting.
--Abbey Simmons, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image Courtesy of CW)
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