The latest to join the ranks of Top Model discards is Gina, who had a combination of qualities that must have had the producers drooling - and I’m not talking about her killer cheekbones. Gina seemed to be always in a flustered state; gasping with shock at the show’s surprises, brought down by a giggle from across the room, frozen by nerves when asked to pose on the fly. And throughout all the petty drama and grammar-school mind games, her every emotion played out on her face. Yes, Gina was a Top Model producer’s dream, and she emerges a little wiser from her trial by fire in the land of model meanies. Make that a very little bit wiser.
Hello Gina, thanks for speaking with me today.
No problem, you’re welcome!
So...you were involved in quite a few controversial moments on the show! Does it surprise you to know you are the most talked-about Cycle 6 contestant on our website?
Oh, wow, really? Yeah, it does surprise me a lot.
Do you see yourself as someone who stirs up controversy?
No, I’m really not that way. I guess just being on the show, I was kind of out of my comfort space and I felt like I was kind of thrown into the show. Not being able to have my family around or my sister around to support me, I think, I just kind of acted out. It was always in the back of my mind that this is going to be on national television and I was just so nervous about so many things, and the whole drama between me and Jade kind of made everything worse. I don’t try to stir up any controversy at all, it just happens!
So the first time viewers raised their eyebrows was when you said you proud to represent Asian models, but then later said you don’t date Asian men. Can I ask you about that moment?
Yeah, we can talk about it - that’s a good thing. I think before I even went into the room with Tyra and the Jays, I went in thinking maybe if I show them that I’m really strong about being Asian, they will think it’s something they can use on the show. I thought that would be an advantage of mine. But then when I went in there, I just kind of froze up because I was scared. When I get nervous I tend to just blurt out the most dumbest, randomest things ever, I swear! At the same time I was just trying to digest the whole thing – you know, me being there, the whole thing’s going to be on national television, and that’s Tyra Banks sitting right in front of me. I think it just all caught up with me and it messed up the way I was thinking.
If I could start over, I wouldn’t say that I would want to represent all of the Asian community because that’s definitely not my intentions, and when I said that I didn’t know what would come along with saying that. I definitely would want to take that back. If I could say that, I would have to be a perfect Asian person who knows everything about their culture, everything about being an Asian person. I really don’t know everything and I definitely would want to take that comment back. I feel horrible because I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who watched the show who are so ashamed of how I acted. And I don’t blame them. I just feel really bad and dumb for saying that.
It sounds like you really regret saying that.
I feel that way because even after I came out of the room and I was all done, I felt so horrible. I actually cried because I didn’t know exactly what I had said, but I knew none of it had made sense. I know I said some things I shouldn’t have, so I cried when I went back to my hotel room because I knew I couldn’t take it back. I think I was just so nervous that I said the most randomest things. I messed up and felt bad.
When you watched it on TV, what did you think of how it came out after being edited?
I didn’t watch it when it first came on, I watched it after someone recorded it for me. From that point in the tape on I just didn’t want to watch it anymore because I knew people would be thinking, “Okay, she’s not my favorite girl anymore,” or, “That girl’s confused; she doesn’t know who she is, she said the most dumbest randomest things ever and she contradicted herself, and then she’s going to say she wants to represent all Asians? That’s horrible.” So I felt like that was the lowest point in my life because it wasn’t just in front of Tyra, the Jays, and whoever else was there, it was all of America – and there’s a lot of Asian people in America! I felt like I let a lot of them down by my actions then.
What do you think of your makeover? Were you expecting something more dramatic?
Oh, yeah, definitely. I’ve always had flat, straw hair. I don’t mind it, a lot of people tell me they love my hair, but after having that for 22 years, I just kind of wanted something big, something poofier, something different. They just gave me a blunt cut with blunt angles. It grew out to be basically the same haircut I had before the makeover.
What was your favorite photoshoot?
My favorite photoshoot was the bald one because not everyone gets the chance to be bald and then get their hair back. Plus, the crystals and makeup - it was very beautiful. Not just mine, I think all the girls looked beautiful with no hair, and the way that whole thing worked was great. You think that you need hair to be beautiful, and it’s definitely not true. We realized it and people who watched the episode realized it too, so it was my favorite photoshoot.
Did you think you would really have to shave your head?
(Laughs) Yes! Couldn’t you tell, did you watch?
Yeah, the camera really zoomed in on your face at that moment.
There was no one else there, there was no scissors, there was no bottles of hairspray or anything, so we just figured, oh my gosh, they’re serious, they’re going to shave our heads! At that point, I was just thinking, what am I going to do what am I going to do. I was wondering how long it would take to grow my hair back. But I was willing to do it! Whether you believe it or not, I was willing to do it. I definitely would have done it.
You were the perfect audience for Tyra’s little misleading rhymes; meaning, it looked like you really thought you were going to have to shave your head, and you were surprised by the cockroaches (weren’t we all)? Did you find the little hints and word games fun or just annoying?
I love how you bring these things up because yeah, that’s true. I just felt – ugh. I just felt like I was under attack in a way. I don’t know how to say it exactly, but I just felt like, “Oh, another surprise,” and then another, and I was just so tired of it. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and not being able to talk to anyone about it, it really made me feel alone. I really thought about it a lot. I thought, “Are they really doing this on purpose?”
Of course they were. That’s what I would say, at least.
But in the beginning I didn’t realize it, it wasn’t until a little afterwards that I thought that. And then it was my time to get eliminated, and by then I thought that maybe they did do all that on purpose. It’s fine, because I can’t turn back time. I wish I had known because that way I could be a little more prepared for it. I definitely feel like I was just thrown into it. I was so naive and I didn’t know what to expect.
You say that you didn’t know what to expect - had you not seen the show before?
I didn’t really watch a lot beforehand. I had heard about the show and I watched a little of the previous shows. My mom used to work at this building here in downtown Tampa, and a lot of customers would tell her that her daughter was pretty and should try modeling. We would constantly hear these remarks. My mom said that maybe I should pursue it. Then a woman came in that told us there was a casting in Tampa at the Hard Rock Casino, and told me to try out. My mom said I would have nothing to lose, so why not at least try out? I got accepted, so I was like, yay!
Is modeling something you want to go on and pursue?
Yeah, if I have the opportunity I would definitely do it. I don’t want to be bitter about what happened on the show. It’s just a show. There are so many aspects to modeling, and if you have the opportunity, why not take it? If I have the chance I definitely want to do it.
What did you think of Janice Dickenson?
(Laughs for about fifteen seconds) Well. Okay, when I first saw her, I thought she was very outspoken. I didn’t really know much about her. But when we were at the restuarant, she was being very loud and stuff like that, but I thought she was pretty cool. Then that whole thing that happened, I felt like I didn’t understand what I did wrong because she asked me to point out someone. I was like, “I don’t want to say.” I didn’t want to point anyone out.
She really pushed you, at least it seemed that way
Yeah, she did, actually. I didn’t know what to do because I felt like if I didn’t say anything, she’d bite my head off, and if I did say something she would bite my head off, and she kept on asking so I figured she really wanted an answer. That’s when I pointed Jade out, and she just went ballistic on me. I was like, “But you asked me!” and she just didn’t want to hear any explanation. But it just wasn’t fair because she had just asked me plenty of times to point out someone, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who would have pointed out someone, it’s just that with her being so persistent. It was weird.
I don’t know what to think about Janice, but that whole thing was weird.
Did she do that with anyone else – ask them to point out someone causing them problems – and they just didn’t show it?
No, that was it. They didn’t do anything else, and she didn’t talk to me after that. I think that was definitely one of the things that I don’t want to look back on.
Let’s talk about Jade for a moment. Where did all the animosity start?
They didn’t really show this. The first thing was before the press junket. Someone asked her if she was Asian, or had some Asian in her, and it was just her and me alone in the room. Her answer was, “HELL no.” I thought that was kind of rude, but I didn’t say anything at that point because I didn’t’ want her to jump down my throat about it.
I never had the opportunity to just be with her alone again to talk aobut it. But later we were at the table eating and all the girls were there, and I thought that it really bothered me what she had said about me, so I decided I was just going to approach her about it, you know, just pull her to the side and talk to her about it. When I did that, everyone else was saying, “Oooh, what’s going to happen?” And Jade said that if I wanted to talk about something everyone should know.
I told her that wasn’t true, not everyone should know about what happened. She said I should just bring it up to the table since I already pointed her out. I said I didn’t point her out, but she said, “Just do it.” But before I could say anything, she said, “I know what this is about.” She didn’t even let me explain, and it just went from there. All the other girls chimed in and I guess all the negativity started from there.
How much did she affect your confidence?
I really hate to admit it, but...a lot. I’m just so used to being friendly with everyone, just being polite and nice to everyone. I’ve never really come across anyone who doesn’t like me or who just hates or even dislikes me. From that point on, she would just be negative towards me. I didn’t know how to handle that, and I didn’t’ have anyone to talk to about it. If I did, I’m sure they would talk about it with their friends, and Jade would chime in, and it would just turn into a group ordeal, and I didn’t want that.
Would she actually make comments about you while you were doing your photoshoots?
Yes, she would. I definitely think she thought that I was a threat, and that she thought by doing that she could hinder my performance. And it worked. I’m sure she saw it working, and that’s why she was persistent with it. After all, it is a competition, and I’m sure a lot of the girls will do anything to win.
To us it looked like the more you questioned yourself and seemed shaken, the more Jade seemed to be gaining in confidence.
Yeah, exactly. The funny thing is that I didn’t realize it until after I got home. When you’re there, and the stress is so high, you’re so high strung, and you only get a few hours of sleep every night, and it’s after hours and hours of makeup and photoshoots, you’re just physically and mentally tired. Everything just piles up on you and you don’t realize a lot of the things that you would unless you’re out of the whole competition. When I got home, that’s when I realized that maybe she thought I was a threat, and the more she saw me being vulnerable, or me being weak in her eyes, she thought it was a bigger opportunity to gang up on me and make me not do well. And when she saw me not do well, it just made her even more confident and strong.
I definitely see that now. I wish that I could have seen that earlier. I wish I could have just built up my self esteem and not let the little things get to me. In the end, I’m never going to see Jade again. Unless I run into her or something. I’m sure that will never happen.
What was going on with those poses in the judging panel?
Oh, gosh. With the fire suit thing? They didn’t really show me doing much, and that’s because I really didn’t know what to do. When people ask me to do things, and I’m caught off guard, and I didn’t prepare for it, I do the most dumbest things ever. (Laughs) I just didn’t know how to pose and I froze because I was so scared. By that time I knew it was my time to go, so I tried my best but I knew it wouldn’t help my position much. The whole fire suit thing really caught us off-guard. They didn’t give us any information, just told us to do three editorial poses with it. It’s not something that’s real light, it was this big heavy suit and these boots. I didn’t know, was I supposed to wear these? (Laughs) I just wish they would have told me what to do because that way I would have known, but they just gave it to me and told me, “Three editorial poses.”
How did you feel when you got eliminated? Because it almost seemed like you were relieved.
(Laughs) You’re so funny. I was. As bad as it sounds, I was really prepared to go home because I kind of dug myself in a really deep hole from the beginning. I feel like if I could start things over I would do things differently and I think I would have stayed a little bit longer. I felt that it just wasn’t my chance to shine, and it’s okay, and I accepted it and was prepared for it. I definitely was relieved to go home. It was a really bad environment for me because I wasn’t prepared, and I was just looking forward to seeing my friends and family back home.
FORT would like to thank UPN for granting the interviews, and we wish Gina all the best in her career - as well as in dealing with any “mean girls” in her future.