This week, Saleisha Stowers was named the cycle 9 winner of America’s Next Top Model.  This 21-year-old model’s win has been clouded with controversy.  Not only did she attend Tyra’s T-Zone camp for young women growing up, she has also appeared in a national Wendy’s commercial and modeled on Tyra’s own talk show earlier this year.  However, there is no denying that Saleisha was a strong model this season.  She owned the runway in this week’s finale and it seemed to be an easy choice for the judges to name her the winner.  Today, Saleisha talked to BuddyTV, responding to both her critics and her fans.

Exclusive Interview: Saleisha Stowers, Winner of 'America's Next Top Model'

Below, you will find the complete transcript of the interview.

Hey everybody, this is Gina from BuddyTV and today, I’m talking to Saleisha, the winner of America’s Next Top Model, cycle nine. First of all, congratulations on winning.

Thank you so much, thank you.

What’s life been like since you finished filming? You had to be quiet about it, so is it just sinking in now that you won?

Oh my gosh, yes. When I went home, I just kind of left it away, I didn’t want to think about it. So now it’s like it’s actually real, you know? I’m actually here, sitting here, talking on the phone with you, and I’m America’s Top Model. It’s kind of crazy, but I’m so overjoyed and I’m so thankful. I couldn’t be happier right now.

So now that you won, next season we get to see your “My Life as a Cover Girl” commercials. I’m wondering what’s day one like for you? What’s today been like?

Today has been exhausting, so crazy. I’ve been up since four o’clock this morning, I’ve had interviews all day, meeting with Cover Girl, Seventeen, and Elite, so it’s been crazy. It’s going to be exciting to see that on “My Life as a Cover Girl,” so I can’t wait.

How long have you wanted to be a model? Is that a dream you’ve had since you were little?

Yeah, I really got into it and really wanted to do this when I was about 15. I’ve just really been pushing for it ever since. I kind of let it go for a while as I finished school and working and stuff, but now I’m really pushing for it because this is something I’ve wanted for so long.

Tyra said right up front that she knew you previously, and that you had attended her T-Zone camp as a teenager. Did you think that was going to be something that people could turn around and use against you if you won the season?

Yes, of course I thought about that, but I don’t really feel that had anything to do with me winning the competition. At the camp I was 14, I was a totally different person at that time, and it’s not about modeling at the camp. I don’t really think that had anything to do with the judging, but I knew that it was going to come up.

I understand what you’re saying. I would agree with that. I think you had your ups and downs just like any other model. Was there a moment in the season where you felt like you really needed to do something to step up and stay in the game, or you might be the one going home?

Definitely, right after the flower shoot. I didn’t fall, I think I was just depressed. The makeover was stressing me out a little bit, and I was kind of letting that get to me. You know, you’re away from your friends and family, you’re away from home, and it’s a little stressful and everything can get to you. I did have a little moment where I was like wow, what did I really get myself into, and I kind of want to be home, but this is what I love doing. It was hard, but I’m glad I got through it.

Going in the opposite direction, what was your favorite moment of the season, or your favorite photo?

My favorite photo has to be the standing out in the crowd with the Chinese dancers all around me, and Nigel was the photographer. I really enjoyed that shoot. It was just great energy and a great vibe between Nigel and Jay, then the dancers, and I felt confident and had a great picture. I just really enjoyed that day.

When you were in the final runway against Chantal, were you worried about going up against her?

I wasn’t worried, because I’m really confident with my walk, but I did have doubts in the back of my mind. You never know what she can do, she can turn around and be the greatest walker ever. I wanted to keep my focus on myself and not think too much about my competitor, because I didn’t want that to get to me. I tried to just stay focused on what I was there for and just be in that moment.

The CW recently announced that Twiggy would be leaving the show for next season. How are you feeling about that, and what was your relationship like with her?

Oh wow, I didn’t know that. I absolutely adore Twiggy. I think she’s a beautiful person, and she always told the truth and gave you how she felt about what you did wrong on the critiques. That’s sad that she’s leaving. She’s a great person, and I’m sure they’ll get somebody just as great as her to replace her.

What’s life going to be like now for you that you won the show?

Wow, I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve only been living this for one day and it’s already crazy. Living it like this is wow, I don’t even know. I’m so excited to see what’s in store for me, and I’m ready for my career to go out. Cover Girl and Seventeen, I’m ready for that to happen, and start really working with Elite and just get my career going.

Do you have anything that you want to say to your fans?

Most definitely. I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me and didn’t go down the negative route and just stood by me. It makes me feel good to know that there are people who did believe in me as much as I did. It keeps me wanting to fight hard and want to prove that I can be even more successful, so I just want to say thank you. I’m so happy, and if you guys have dreams, go after them. Fight hard for them and they will come true.

Well we’re really excited to follow your career over the next few months and years. We wish you the best of luck Saleisha. Congratulations.

Thank you so much.

– Gina Scarpa, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CW)

Gina Scarpa

Staff Writer, BuddyTV