Latest to be eliminated from Top Model Bootcamp was Furonda, whom the judges found to be...well, actually, I’m not sure what the judges found to be lacking during her time on the show. She put together a decent portfolio, and even thrilled the judges the week before. Perhaps they thought that if dubbed the newest ANTM, Furonda would waltz onto the red carpet wearing her tiara, cracking jokes, and passing out mimeographed copies of her “rules”. At least she wasn’t pigeonholed into that most irritating of reality-show stereotypes: The Girl Who Makes Watching Paint Dry Seem Exciting. Because as one audience of Thai folks will tell you – this girl is entertainment personified.
Good morning, Furonda! I have to say, I did not expect to be talking to you today.
You have some vocal fans on our site - have you ever stopped by for a look?
Right, I have looked at your site from time to time. Your fans are really vocal, they are. (Laughs)
Were you a fan of the show? Had you seen any of the previous cycles?
I saw the first cycle with Kesse Wallace - she’s in Little Rock, Arkansas - of course I watched that one. I watched pretty much every cycle when I had the chance, and I loved the show before I ever went on it.
Who did you see as your biggest competition - who was the girl to beat?
In the competition, I thought that the girl to beat would probably be myself. It really didn’t matter what the other girls did; it was all about if I could get it, and if I could apply it, and pump out a big picture, go to judging each week and wow the judges, so it was actually a race against myself.
Which photoshoot was your best, in your opinion?
I think my best photoshoot probably was the living doll, the Pantene Pro-V photoshoot. That week was “the ugly side of modeling” and I was pretty much on that week. I fell into the rag doll theme. It kind of helped that Jay called me a rag doll the week before, and he was trying to be funny when he said it. So, I just fell into the rag doll thing, like, “You think I’m a rag doll? I’ll be a rag doll.”
You made your mark early in the house by passing out a sheet to the other girls with your “rules” and wearing a tiara. Did anyone break your rules, and if so, how?
You know, I had some girls who asked me for personal items even after – laughing too hard to finish The rules kind of got misconstrued. It wasn’t like that, it was all in good fun. They kind of left out parts of the rules, and only left the parts that would put me in the diva/bitchy light. The girls all understood. I didn’t have a problem with anybody in the house pretty much. As far as not asking me for personal items – once they got over that, we were pretty much fine on the rules. But my crown was not coming off. (Laughs) I actually still have that crown, too. I still have it. I’m looking at it right now. As a matter of fact, I better put it on. Maybe I’ll have a better interview.
But the whole diva role - at first it seemed like when you were passing out those rules that you were going to be this cycle’s diva. But that didn’t seem to fit your personality at all as the weeks went on.
Right! Everyone has to play a part, and has to be edited a different way, and I guess I was “diva”. (Laughs) There are worse things to be than a diva, so it was okay. I’m just really a fun person. I just like to have fun and not be in a lot of drama, or have negative energy around me. I think that’s what diva means. It’s like, if you have drama, get as far away from me as can, or there’s going to be a problem.
Okay, I’m going to read off some names of the other women in the house, and if you could, I’d like you to tell me what you thought of them in a sentence or two.
Joanie: Joanie is funny. She was the mother of the house, and Joanie is hilarious. We sat on my bed and laughed for hours and hours and hours. She’s the mother of the house, and sometimes she got carried away with it, and I would say, “Joanie, you are not my mama!” And she would say, “Oh, okay. I’m just so used to taking care of everybody.” She sort of fell into that role early on in the house.
Jade: Jade was a unique person, one like I’ve never met before. I know Jade on the show, many times when the cameras were on her, she appeared to be doing crazy things, but that wasn’t Jade 24 hours a day. Jade has a lot of dimensions to her, and once you actually get past the outer facade that she has going on, she’s really a nice person, I think.
What was your impression of Jade’s tears in front of the judges: fake or not?
When Jade was in panel, I was standing behind her, so I couldn’t see her face to see what she was doing up there, so I don’t know.
Danielle: Danielle’s from Arkansas, so of course I’ve got that Arkansas love for Danielle.
Nnenna: Nnenna is the sweetest person that you will ever, ever meet. She’s so sweet and so polite. (imitating her voice) “I don’t want to offend anyone, I don’t want to!” A lot of times, if you look, Nnenna’s not even present when things are going on. She mostly stayed on her bed, she read her books, she talked on the phone to her boyfriend. She just stayed cleared of household problems. I mean, she was always helping out if we needed household work or help with something. She’s just a really dependable, nice person. And a great model! She’s a great model. I plan to see Nnenna on the runways pretty soon here.
Sara: Sara was very smart, and as the weeks went on, I got to know more and more about Sara. She really loves modeling, even though she just got into it she works really, really hard to get it right.
Brooke: Brooke was really more sensitive than she should be in this business. But she’s a beautiful girl.
How about Leslie?
Um, how about not.
Mollie Sue: Mollie Sue is the comedian extraordinaire. I don’t understand how they didn’t get Mollie Sue’s personality because she’s a really sarcastic person. All of her humor is off-the-cuff. It seems like she’s not cracking a joke but she’s actually being hilariously funny. And I thought she was so clever, and there she is drop-dead gorgeous.
A lot of the girls have described you as the girl who made them laugh all the time, and you really had the crowd rolling during your Thai dance performance. Do you think you should be going for something other than modeling, like being a comedian?
You know, I’ve been thinking about it. It’s always been my dream to be on “Saturday Night Live.” I love what they do, I love the skits, and I always think, “I could do that, I could be on that!” So I’ve always wanted to do comedy and skits like that, maybe “The Dave Chappelle Show” or something like that. That’s the way I get through my day, because things have been really hard for me in the past, so laughter is what helps me get through it all. I just wanted to make the other girls laugh, because I knew we were all stressed out. We were all going through the same thing. We were up for hours upon hours upon hours at a time, just sitting around doing nothing, but then we would have to be up. A lot of us weren’t eating right because we didn’t have access to all of the foods we needed. We just had to kind of stick in there and hang together.
Was there some sort of starvation diet in that house? Because you’re not the first girl to mention the lack of food.
It’s not a starvation diet, but what it is, with production and everything going on, it’s kind of hard to get to the grocery store. There’s confidentiality - we really can’t be seen - and I guess it was just hard to get us groceries for us, or coordinate trips for us to go to the grocery, or just get food in. Most of the time we were living off whatever food we ate that day at photoshoots, then we would go back to the house. We always had cereal, but as far as other things, it was scarce.
I understand you had yoghurt...in your bathroom?
(Laughs) This is funny, because Janice Dickenson told me one day to clear up my acne, I should use plain yoghurt and apple cider vinegar. So I went and got the plain yoghurt when we finally went to the store, and the apple cider vinegar. I was keeping it in the refrigerator for so long, until one day I used it in the bathroom and I never took it back to the kitchen. I never used it again. We were never at home, so I kind of forgot about the yoghurt. And it takes Mollie Sue and I think, Danielle, to go in my bathroom, go through my stuff, and find this yoghurt and chase each other around the house with it. By that time it was just rank. (Laughs) Oh, that was funny. I don’t think it was her last night in the house, but her time was winding down in the house at that point and we kind of had a fun night just running around like crazy women.
About your look - on our site, you get comments like, “she looks like an alien - a gorgeous alien.” How would you describe your look?
I would describe my look as beautiful but unique. You don’t see my face every day, it’s different. I guess that’s the makings of a high fashion model.
The people on your site, Fans of Reality TV, right?
Yup, that’s the one.
A lot of those people, I got a sense that maybe they had nothing else to do? I’m serious! (in response to me laughing) I wouldn’t sit at my computer and just write mean, horrible things about someone else all day. I’d write my opinion, but I wouldn’t make up any kind of horribleness that I could do and maybe try to get attention, I don’t know if that’s what it’s about. I read some of this stuff...I guess this is my first glimpse of stardom and fame. Someone always has something to say, and most of the time it’s negative. You just have to live with that.
Now we know that the eliminated contestants continue to participate in the photoshoots, assumedly so that the elimination order isn’t a spoiler. Right now the current issue of ElleGirl has pictures of you posing in a bikini in what will be next week’s photoshoot. How did they manage the logistics of having you, Nnenna, Brooke and Leslie complete the photoshoot without appearing on camera? And I didn’t even know Leslie went to Thailand until I saw that picture!
Well of course they can always edit. I think we did our photoshoot at a different time. Myself and Nnenna, we did ours together on Phuket, on the island of Phuket. I didn’t see any of the other girls at that time. We stayed at the island for a couple of days, and went out to the beach and did the photoshoot.
That sounds fantastic.
Yes, it was so beautiful. It was the island that they shot “The Beach” on with Leonardo DiCaprio. That was a beautiful island, it was like, “Wow, I actually get a vacation!”
What about the other judges: who was the harshest judge, and who did you feel was pulling for you?
I felt like Tyra was pulling for me. She was always supportive, and always willing to give some advice. Some of the other judges - Nigel, mainly - I got a vibe from him that this was his fifteen minutes of fame too, and maybe he was trying to go the way of Simon Cowell route. He gave me a lot of “American Idol” Simon vibes, like that was the role he was trying to play, and I fell victim to that a lot of times. When I would see a beautiful picture, and everyone else would see a beautiful picture, and he found something negative to say about it. If he couldn’t find something negative to say about my picture, then he would turn it back to me: “Well, this girl has no bust at all!” Well, okay. How many models do you see in high fashion modeling right now that don’t have a bust? So I think maybe he thought he was going to break me, but that never happened. Twiggy was sweet, Miss Jay was cool.
What’s ahead for you, Furonda? Do you plan to pursue a career in modeling?
Of course I want to model - I want to model and act. Hopefully, Saturday Night Live. I have a website where fans and casting agents can go to see some of my pictures : www.furonda.com. I think some of my music will be up on myspace probably in the next day or so. I sing, and I’ll be loading that up soon. I’ve written several articles about self-esteem, because I am extremely skinny, and I know that. I know when young girls see those images on TV, it confuses them, you know? But this is my body type, and this is how I’ve been all my life, and I’ve had to grow to appreciate it. I didn’t used to like being this skinny, and I understand that girls have issues with their bodies, and I just want them to know that your body is the body that you have, and that’s the best body for you, and not to try to feed into the images that you see on TV. So I’m writing an article about that. Soon, a novel - I’m working with New York Times best seller E. Lynn Harris, one of my professors. I’m trying to get started on my novel. It’s going to be about my life, how I came from nothing - the projects, the hood, the ghetto, to being a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” – and more.
Thanks to UPN for granting the interview, and many thank to Furonda for the laughs.