This morning I had the pleasure of chatting with Branden, the newly crowned winner of Make Me A Supermodel.
Branden and I chatted about his victory, which shocked everyone but Branden himself. The 18-year-old Oregonian said he knew “something good was coming his way” after his strong performances. Branden and I talked about how he plans to spend his $100,000 prize, how his Mama is bursting with pride, how his favorite and least favorite photo shoot were one in the same, and how he finally got Nicole’s number after winning.
Listen to my interview with Branden:
Well, first, a huge congratulations to you.
Aw, thank you.
You’re welcome. So it must feel good to be able to tell everyone and let everyone know that you’re the big winner.
Oh, I know. It’s awesome.
Was it a hard secret to keep?
Oh, it was definitely a hard secret to keep. You have to do it, because it’s either tell people, or win. That’s what it came down to.
Yeah, go for winning, then, man!
Yeah, I know.
So how did you come to be on Make Me A Supermodel?
Well, I went to IMTA. It’s the International Modeling and Talent Association. It’s a place in New York. It takes place every year, and a whole bunch of aspiring models come from around the world to go and walk in front of a bunch of agencies from around the world. And Bravo’s Make Me A Supermodel was there doing a casting call, and my agency wanted me to do it, so I did it. And as soon as I walked out, I heard Jim Buff, a producer of the show, say, “Yeah, I think he’s perfect for the show.” So immediately then I knew that I had something going for me, and I had something to turn to, and I did it right after that. And I told them, “I’m down for it.”
So at the beginning of the season, did you think you had a chance to win?
Um, you know, yeah, I did actually. At the beginning of the season, I really did, because I was the first guy to win a photo shoot. I was the first guy to win a go-see. And I felt really good about it. And then, you know, of course a couple weeks later, I was at the bottom. But it brought me down, and in the middle of the competition I’d say that’s the time when I was like, “Okay, I think I’m going home.” But I’d say the last episode, last night’s episode, I knew something good was going to come out of it. I knew that I did a really good job. I didn’t know exactly if I was going to win, but I was pretty certain that I had a chance.
What was your favorite photo that you took in your time on Make Me A Supermodel?
I’d say the… nude shot.
Even with the grooming disaster at the beginning of it?
Oh yeah. That was the sucky part, but you know, in all great things comes something bad.
Did you have a least favorite photo or photo shoot that you did?
You know, I’d have to say the same one. Because it’s more just because of the photographer, Bill. That was just a really mean comment that he made, about how, “If this was a $50,000 shoot, I would ask for a re-do,” or whatever, when I had a great shot. And I looked at most of the film, and there were some great shots in there. I don’t know what his problem was with me, but the whole time, that was the only photographer that I had a problem with. And he had a problem with me. I don’t know what I did to him. Maybe I had bigger junk than him, and he noticed. I don’t know.
Hilarious. Did you have a favorite runway challenge that you did?
You know, I’d say the blonde one. Wearing the blonde wig, I really liked that one for some reason. So does my mom. My mom’s crazy over that one. She’ll watch it over and over and over and over.
Oh, that’s so cute. You and your mom, I mean, I kept a “Branden making me cry” count last night, and you were up to three. You and your Mama. She must be incredibly proud of you right now.
Oh, she is unbelievably proud. I mean she is in her own little world right now.
Did she learn yesterday with the rest of us, or did she get to know beforehand?
I told her beforehand, but that was the only person I told. She had to sign a contract a long time ago, but I knew that she wouldn’t tell anybody. But she knew.
So on the show there was a lot of focus on you growing up with a single mother and without a male role model or father figure. Though it seemed that you were surrounded by really strong men who supported you. Do you feel like you left the show with new male role models?
Oh yeah, I really did. Well, not really “role models”…like, I looked up to Jonathan, but more as a friend. So I left with really good friends. We’ll be friends forever. I mean, I don’t know about Jonathan as well because I think he kind of has some harsh feelings or something for the show. I think maybe he thought he should have won, which, I mean, he had equal chance to win. I mean I believe that he should have won. I believe that Sandhurst should have won. I believe that we all should have, because us three, we were really, really strong. But me and Sandhurst, we’re really, really close. So… just, I mean I really have love for Jonathan. He’s a really cool guy, and I hope, you know, he’s not pissed or something.
Was it more surreal for you to live or to watch yourself on Make Me A Supermodel?
It was more surreal to live. Now watching it, it’s like, “Whoa. That happened.” And I know it did, it just felt more alive when I was there and doing it. I wish it was alive. But I had to wait for so long, and all that energy and everything that I had for the competition just went away.
So you seem like you grew a ton, as a person and as a model, in your time during Make Me A Supermodel. What do you think the biggest lesson you learned during your time was?
I’d say, you know, to not underestimate myself. I used to do that a lot. I used to do that really a lot, because I never had someone to tell me, you know, “You’re a great person.” Well, my mom, obviously. She really supported me and stuff. But, you know, I just really underestimated myself a lot, and now I know not to, because I can accomplish great goals by putting my mind to it. Try my hardest.
You seemed like you were quite the ladies’ man on the show. Do you have any new pick-up lines that you’re going to utilize with your new supermodel status?[Laughing] No. I mean, I like women. But they squeezed a lot out of me that made it seem like I’m some sort of perverted lady freak. I mean, I like women a lot, it’s just something… I’m a man. I don’t know.
You seemed to have the hots for Nicole, reasonably, all season, and she said she’d give you her number if you won. Did she?
You know, not right after the show, but a couple months later, she did. When I was in LA.
Awesome. Good luck with that one, Branden!
Oh yeah. I don’t think it will work out, though.
So what’s your dream modeling job, do you think?
My dream modeling job, I think, is working for Calvin Klein.
Runway, print, both?
You know, I think print. Yeah. Runway, I’d love to do runway, but I think print more. I would love to be like the picture, like the face of Calvin Klein. But Gabriel Upright, or whatever his name is, he’s a really cool guy.
What are you going to do with your big $100,000 prize?
Well, I’m going to give my mom some of it so she can support herself a little bit and have fun. And I’m going to use the rest to move to New York, and maybe go on a little vacation.
Good! Good for you. And lastly, you just mentioned that you are planning on moving to New York. What’s next for you?
Oh, you know, just pursuing my career now. If I am a supermodel, then I have to be supermodeling!
–Abbey Simmons, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image Courtesy of Bravo, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders )