KC's ‘Top Model' looks ahead
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT The Kansas City Star
So she's America's Next No. 3 model.
Shandi Sullivan figures that's good enough to keep pursuing a modeling career. After finishing third in
UPN's “America's Next Top Model,” which aired Tuesday, Sullivan told The Star she's back at work as a Kansas City Walgreen's clerk but plans to move to New York to find a modeling contract.
The show changed Sullivan from just plain to plain fierce in about 10 weeks. Her long legs and eccentric style pushed out of the original pack of 12 model hopefuls and into the top three. She had fans across the country thinking she would win.
But it was Yoanna House of Florida who eventually took home the top honors: a modeling contract and appearances in Jane magazine and a Sephora catalog.
Sullivan told us what's next on her plate.
Q. Now that the show is over, what's the next step?
A. I'm moving to New York and pursuing modeling.
Have you been signed?
Not yet. I couldn't do that until after the show is over.
Were you shocked when you didn't make the final two?
No, I think I knew it was my time to go. I was just happy to have the opportunity.
Did you watch the final showdown? Who were you pulling for?
Yes. It didn't matter at that point who won, either one was going to do great. But I did think Mercedes was going to get it.
What did you think of yourself on the show?
I think they portrayed me really well considering I was in an environment that wasn't normal. I tried to be as much myself as I could be. It was interesting to see myself.
How has the show changed you?
It really changed my confidence level. The fact that I put myself through all of that stuff makes me realize I had it all along. I just needed something to bring it out in me.
Did the show portray who the other girls really were?
It's real. One person that wasn't shown as well was April. They showed her as a robot machine, but she was actually really fun to be around. They didn't show how playful she could be, and it was kind of sad.
What about Camille?
They represented Camille exactly the way she is. Sometimes they probably didn't show her as bad as she was.
What was the most challenging part of the competition?
The water shoot. That was so unbelievably uncomfortable having people tell me to look fierce when I have water coming out of my nose and mouth. Before I went in I thought it would be easy, but it was really hard.
What was your favorite picture?
The solstice picture, the one in Milan with the big hair and sunglasses is my favorite.
When you were in Milan, did you feel like the girls should have stopped you from leaving the hot tub with the Italian hottie?
No. Quite honestly, it wasn't their place. I am an adult, and I should be able to take care of myself. Me and my boyfriend talked about it, and we have gone through everything. We're still together.
Didn't you realize it would be on national TV?
Of course. They told us from the get-go anything we do 24/7 is going to be taped and on the air.
You dealt with a lot of hurtful family issues on the show. Have you and your family reconciled since the show?
I haven't spoken to my parents. My mom got really upset when she saw one of the episodes, but I haven't talked to her since the show started. It's sad, but I was expecting it. The rest of the family has been unbelievably supportive. I talk to my sisters all the time.
How does it feel to be an inspiration to the plain Janes across the country?
I've actually had a mom approach me at work and cry. I gave her a hug and said, “What's the matter?” She said her daughter was such a big fan of mine. She told her mom, “If Shandi can go from being a nerd to being so beautiful, I can do it, too.” And I kind of lost it when she told me that. I didn't realize how much of an impact all of us had on people. It made me feel so good.
Do you keep in touch with any of the other contestants?
Yes. I am really keeping in close contact with Yoanna. We speak once or twice a week. Of course I talk to Xiomara. And I speak on and off with Mercedes and Sara. That's pretty much it.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans in Kansas City?
I know there was a big finale party and I missed it. Sorry to disappoint you guys. Thanks for supporting me, and I will do better.