Surviving through weeks of eliminations only to be denied the final win, Nik blithely told the judging panel that it didn’t matter if she won because she would be “happy either way.” Maybe those words had nothing to do with her elimination, but knowing Tyra, it might have helped to have had a line about eating, sleeping and breathing the world of modeling at the tip of her tongue instead. But Nik was known for having an understated personality. She stood out for bringing a calm demeanor to the house, which contrasted nicely with her fierce look in photoshoots. Nik performed consistently and had several amazing photos, so it’s not clear if Nik was passed over because of a mildly disturbing “jiggly” walk in the final runway challenge, or that she didn’t inject the right amount of ruthless ambition into her final words to the judging panel. But you know, it’s okay - she’s happy. And unlike the modeling-must-occupy-your-every-waking-thought attitude of Tyra Banks, I find that admirable.
Congratulations on winning second place, Nik! I know it’s not the win, but it’s a remarkable achievement.
Thank you, I’m so excited! I’m okay with the fact that I didn’t win, I just have to take this position and make it work for me.
First off, what attracted you to the show?
Well, I’m actually a fan of the show. I’ve seen every episode of every cycle, and I had tried to get on the show in previous cycles. I made it to callbacks in cycle 3. But just in general, I have always admired models because they’re so beautiful and strong, and I’ve always wanted to be one.
How did the competition affect your self-confidence?
You know what, in the competition, listening to all the judges comments, it is pretty difficult because one week they’re extremely excited about something you do and the next week they’re not so thrilled, so you really have to be strong through it because you start tearing yourself down with them. But each week your confidence soars higher and higher as you get through the competition even though you’re still hearing negative things, because it’s like, “I’m still here! There must be a reason!” It just makes you feel so good to get as far as I did. It really boosted my confidence. It made me feel very strong. Now I feel like, “I can do this - I have something!”
You definitely have something, that’s an understatement.
Well, thank you!
Your second commercial was so different from your first one. How did you turn it around?
The first commercial was the first time I’d ever read lines before, and the last one I knew - I think everyone knew - that I was the one who wasn’t going to nail the commercial. So I made sure the whole time the only thing I did was practice those lines over and over and over again. And to be honest, I prayed like I’ve never prayed before, “Please take the nerves away, please take the nerves away!” (laughs) And when I got up there, I don’t remember saying it - it just came out.
What do you think about winning Cover Girl of the Week so many times?
Oh my goodness, I think that is more exciting than making it through to the next week, because the people who made me Cover Girl of the Week were the fans, and it shows that people like me and are interested in what I’m doing, and that they think I’m doing a good job. For them to think I’m doing well, it makes me feel good because if the world thinks I’m doing well, it means that other clients and agents will think I’m doing a good job, too. Oh, I’m so excited! You should have seen me when I saw that on the screen. I was going crazy. I never expected it - you never know who’s going to get it, and it feels good to get it, it really does!
Now Twiggy called you a “gentle soul,” and said that you might not be tough enough for the fashion industry. Do you agree with that?
I guess that comment makes me think she might have misread me. I’m definitely sweethearted and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to hurt anyone, but I think I can take it. It may not be portrayed that way on the show, but whatever anyone wants to throw at me I am strong enough to handle and give it back. So it’s misperception, and hey, that’s what I gave to her to get that impression, so I just got to make sure people know that I’m not afraid, I’m not timid, I’m strong and I’ve got this.
Now that you’ve seen the show, you’ve obviously seen Jayla’s confessionals about you. Were you surprised she harbored such a grudge against you?
Well, she did apologize to me in London, so it wasn’t a surprise exactly, but I guess I didn’t realize how bad they were going to be so I was pretty shocked. I didn’t know she felt that way, but I knew that she had already apologized very sincerely for it. I’m okay with it now, things are actually fine between us and we’re close.
When you watch the show, are you happy with the way you came across?
I have no problems with the way I was portrayed. I think watching the show, it shows that I’m a good person, and I really think that I am a good person. The only thing that was difficult to see is the fact that they made me seem dull in personality because I’m really not; I just want people to understand that it was a very difficult situation just being there, so it was very hard to get adjusted. It took me much longer than the other girls to get used to having so many people around you and cameras watching. I think that I portrayed myself differently but it has nothing to do with the show portraying me a certain way. On the show I’m quiet, but that’s not really me. I’m wild, I’m crazy! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to show the world. But I will, someday!
I was wondering, early on you said you were keeping your emotions to yourself. By the end, were you close to any of the other girls?
Definitely in the beginning I was holding back a lot more, because there were so many girls in the competition, and not all of them are there to be your friend. But by the time we were headed out of the country, I cared so much for the other girls. I think we were all friends. Some of them were having drama, but I’m so close to all of them. Nicole, Bre, Jayla - who would have expected me and Jayla to be friends, but we really are!
It seems like early on the judges criticized your runway walk for swaying your head side-to-side, but in the final show, you were told you had a “jiggly walk.” Were you conscious of being jiggly?
No, but you’re right, I had a problem with bobbing my head around when I walked, so I think what happened was that I was concentrating so hard on keeping my head still that I lost control of my body. I should have focused on my body as well as my head!
What was the best part of the experience for you?
The best part was meeting all the people that we had a chance to meet. I mean, oh my goodness, I was standing on a weekly basis next to Tyra Banks, world famous supermodel, Victoria’s Secret model, and that was crazy! I met Iman, and I had a chance to speak with Benny Medina, and there were so many other people that I had a chance to meet that as a normal girl in my normal everyday life I never would have been able to have a real conversation with those people. That alone made the experience worthwhile.
Right before the judges deliberated, you told the panel that you would be “happy either way”, meaning I guess that you would have been happy if Nicole won and you didn’t. Do you think that played a part in their decision, since Tyra has said before that she wants her winners to want to win more than anything else in the world?
I hope it didn’t play a part! There was so much more to that conversation, but what I was saying was that I understand that there can only be one winner, and that I’m not going to be a bitter person or evil towards the winner. I was just saying that I’m just blessed for the experience. And I’m happy to be here, so I’d be just as happy to be the runner up as the winner. Now naturally, I wanted to be in the winner. (laughs) No one wants to be a loser, but I just wanted to let them know that being there, I couldn’t be happier. Not all of that conversation was shown, though. I was just telling them thank you, really.
Who was your favorite judge?
I loved all the judges equally, but watching the show Nigel became my favorite judge because he always had such wonderful things to say about me. He gave great positive feedback, and that’s wonderful to hear. But also, I loved Tyra, of course - I mean, they were all great.
How do you think the vote went? Do you know?
I have no idea, I’m going to have to find that out. (laughs) I will ask later, but I really don’t know.
What is your impression of Tyra? Can you tell us what she’s like?
Tyra? She’s amazing. It’s really funny because when you stand next to Tyra, at first you’re just thinking, “Oh my God, I’m standing next to Tyra Banks the celebrity.” But when you talk to her, it’s so cool because it’s like talking to your friend, and you can tell that she really did want to help us be successful. You can really tell that she cares, and I think that’s cool because she doesn’t have to. But she does, and it’s amazing.
We’ve seen some Top Model runner ups become successful models, so I was wondering if you plan to continue modeling, and if so, what part of the industry?
I’m definitely not planning to go back to my regular 9-to-5! (laughs) Modeling is definitely where I want to be. I’m going straight to New York after this to meet with all the agencies that I can, and hopefully one of them will be interested in me. Definitely print, I want to do as many campaigns as I possibly can. Runway, I would love to do runway. I’m going to tackle everything in the fashion industry as long as someone lets me!
Is there anything else you would like the viewers to know?
I just want everyone to know that I am so appreciative of all the support, and thank you for making me Cover Girl of the Week, even though I am not the winner, this is just the beginning and I promise that you will see me out there!
Thank you to Nik for being such a sweetheart on the phone, and many thanks to UPN for the interviews.