No matter all the mysterious controversy surrounding the re-filmed America’s Next Top Model: All-Stars finale, this cycle was about branding. And in the end, the best self-brander won.
Last night, Lisa D’Amato, the outspoken singing, rapping, dancing, acting and modeling all-star from cycle 5, took home Tyra’s title, complete with this season’s special prizes: A fashion spread in Vogue Italia, a cover and spread in Beauty in Vogue, a blog on Vogue.it, a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl, an Express campaign, and she is now the face of the new Top Model perfume, Dream Come True.
Today, Lisa began her crusade for world domination, but she still found the time to talk with me about her second, victorious time on ANTM. Here’s my chat with the world’s first-ever Top Model All-Star:
Congratulations on winning the All-Star cycle! It’s your first day as the winner. What’s been the craziest thing you’ve gotten to do today?
The craziest thing I got to do today, I actually was taking pictures with Boys II Men, seriously. And then I ate at Katsuya on a corporate card.
You’re living the high life now! What’s surprised you most by this whole All-Stars cycle compared to your first cycle?
The first cycle was definitely all about modeling. If this was the cycle they wanted to bring back the All-Stars of America’s Next Top Model and have it be about modeling, I probably wouldn’t have done it, because I have been focusing on everything else, like developing my brand, for years, even before cycle five. Of course, modeling is something I’ve done since I was twelve, and it was definitely the platform that brought me into different branches of the entertainment industry. I always knew that I was a performer, so the branding thing is what got me so excited. Because to me, America’s Next Top Model All-Stars, the branding cycle, it’s going to be hosting, it’s going to be acting, it’s going to be music, it’s going to be performing, it’s going to be modeling. You know, embracing that celebrity personality you need to be. Because I’m from Hollywood, and that’s what it is.
Personally, that’s how I look at it, and that’s exactly what it was. That’s what I’ve been doing all along, all these years anyway, so for me, it’s always been preparation meets opportunity. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been working on my own TV project. 2012 is basically going to be an unveiling of the craziest stuff ever. Projects I’ve been working on forever. My album is out right now, called the Flippin’ The Bird. I just released my free iPhone App, which I’ve been developing for the last year. Everyone can see first-hand, exclusive footage only on “Earth to Lisa,” on my free iPhone App. My crazy ventures in Hollywood.
You just won all these other projects though Top Model. How are you going to find time to do all this stuff?
L: Trust me. I can drive myself ten times over again. I’m so excited.
In the finale, I’m sure you had a lot of different emotions going though you — excitement, relief and probably a little confusion, with all the Angelea stuff. Can you tell me what was going through your head when Tyra played Modelland motion editorial, and you found out you won?
At that very moment, they said that the last girl in the video was going to be the winner. So I’m really watching it and I see me on there … and I’m still on there … and I’m actually waiting for it to fully stop, because you always need to expect the unexpected. So I’m waiting for them to maybe show a picture of Allison, and then maybe go back to me. And it just was me the whole time, so I didn’t actually want to react until it was fully stopped.
It’s crazy. It’s beyond redemption. It’s validation that at the end of the day if you stay true to yourself and you are a hard worker, you will prosper. Especially in the hardest time in our society today, where selling out and scandal gets rewarded. People can say whatever they want about me, but I still have a heart of gold. I might be that tough chick, but I do have a heart of gold, and I’m very genuine to what I want to do and they way I want to do it. Work hard and prosper, baby.
I talked to Laura last week and I asked her about all the finalists, and she said, ‘Everybody thinks Lisa is crazy, but she’s actually really smart and put together in her head.’ Do you agree with that?
Yeah, I definitely play that very well, because I think it’s also a lot more fun to surprise people than for them to get just what they expect. If I had a dime for everyone who has met me on the street and said, “One, you’re way prettier in person and two, you’re so much more normal,” I’d be like, maybe, one thousand dollars richer. People see a very edited hyper-version of yourself. Of course, I’m crazy and fun. I don’t have many fears, so that’s going to get edited in, but I am incredibly smart and strategic, and I know what I’m doing.
The big news is that you won, but there is also all this speculation about Angelea going on at the same time. I saw your appearance on KTLA this morning, so I know you said you don’t know anything about what happened. But has all this Angelea controversy affected you at all? Either now, or at the time that it happened?
I always expect the unexpected. I think that it doesn’t affect me, per se. I think that it’s very funny how even though we grow up past high school, everything still turns into high school and there’s rumors and things get blown out of proportion. Someone says one thing and then it snowballs into something crazier and you’re like OK, well at the end of the day, just let them talk.
What’s your favorite memory from the All-Stars cycle?
I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but Tyra Banks said to me at panel — and it didn’t make it on air — but she said that through all the years of doing America’s Next Top Model, the story that I told her about my life is still the one that resonates at the top of her heart and her brain, that it was so captivating. It was so humbling to hear that because she’s heard every story in the book, doing this show for ten years now. So to know that I impacted her, or my story has affected her, that means a lot to me. Because my life story is what made me who I am, and it’s made me the strong woman that I am. That’s priceless. You can’t buy thick skin and that is what I own, and it’s priceless.
Winning this gives you such a major platform, do you have an overall message that you hope you can give to your fans?
Absolutely! I hope I’m an inspiration to all the people who aren’t necessarily the normal beauty. The ones that beat at their own drum. The ones that don’t do things in the normal fashion. I do things very unorthodox and that is OK. Be-you-tiful. Individuality is key.
Also, coming from a background of physical, mental and sexual abuse, I know firsthand, you hear that dreams come true, but you know in the back of your mind that they won’t for you. Because you’re defeated before you could even stand on your own. It is possible. They say when you can’t hold on, just still hold on. I’ve done that ten times over again, and I think that shows, and I’m rolling with it. I can’t wait to inspire more people.
I’d also love to put the spotlight on an organization, FreeArts.org. It’s for children who are in physical and mental abusive homes and it helps them find outlets creatively to express themselves and believe in themselves.
Congratulations, Lisa. I’m looking forward to seeing all the different things that you get to do in the next year. It’s gonna be a big one.
It’s gonna be a big one! I’ve said this earlier today and I’ll say it again: 2012 I’m grabbing by the cajones, and I’m gonna ride it like the monster beast that I am.
(Image courtesy of CW)