Samantha, a beautiful 20-year-old small-town girl depicted as a withdrawn, lonely girl who lacked personality, was the second contestant sent home from America’s Next Top Model. She struggled being the girl with the bad reputation during her photo-shoot; yet her picture was praised as being beautiful. Nonetheless, she was cut for her lack of personality, while Natasha was kept, despite not being able to translate beauty into a photograph. But wait, there’s more! Samantha's full of personality and had friends on the show. Can editing have deceived us again?
Hi, Samantha! Thank you for speaking with me today.
Oh, you’re welcome.
You’re from a small town and a self-professed "simple country girl." How were you discovered, and how did you end up being a contestant on America’s Next Top Model?
Well, growing up I was always one of those kids that never really knew what they wanted to do--like I never wanted to be a teacher or a doctor. I never really knew exactly, but one thing I knew was I always wanted to model. I was watching the marathon on VH1 right before Cycle 7 or during cycle 7, and my boyfriend was, like, "You should really try out. You could really do it." So, we looked up the casting calls and went to Atlanta and did that, then went to semi-finals, and then got in the house.
I always wonder how people say they decide at an early age that they want to be a model. Is that from looking at magazines, TV, or what?
Yeah, it really was that for me. The clothes. I’ve always been amazed with high fashion. I was always looking at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and watching the Style Network is what I do constantly.
The show seemed to focus on your feeling lonely and not fitting in with the other girls. What made you so uncomfortable around the other girls?
See, that’s where they so portrayed me as being very lonely and very awkward and trying to be kind of like a loner, and really I got to know the girls really well. I got really close with Brittany and Renee, and I talked all the time with Sarah, who was my roommate. It just didn’t show any of that. Like I was always talking, and I was being silly and running around and having a good time, and eating dinner with the girls, and cooking. They didn’t show any of that, and at times, yeah, you feel alone, but it’s because these are girls you don’t really know well, and things you would tell your best friend, or your mom, or your boyfriend. They’re not there, so it just kind of gets to you, and you only have one phone, and there are so many girls that you don’t spend all the time that you want on the phone with them.
I also wondered if you have a bad day, do they take it from there and edit it in a certain way to portray you as such?
Yes, it definitely happens. Like I watched the episode and I was like, "Wow!"
You didn’t quite remember it that way?
Yeah, I was . . . hmm, that’s weird because I remember having a personality and talking to people, and having a really good time, and learning a lot, and having fun with a bunch of girls that I think are great friends. I wish they would have actually showed that.
You’ve touched on this, but I found it really sad to hear you say you "felt so alone in a house filled with so many people." Are you naturally shy? Do you open up and become more outgoing with time, although you just said you pretty much were outgoing?
I think it’s always been that I have to get used to it and kind of see what’s going on first, and then I open up. And, that’s how I was on the first day when we got in the house, and it was seeing how everyone acts, and then I opened up and got to know everybody. But, they didn’t show . . . they made me look like I was so out place, and I felt so awkward.
They made you look like you were the small-town girl.
Who had never been into a city.
Yeah, I know! They made me seem as though I’d never left my small town, and I’ve been places, and I’ve pretty much lived in Birmingham, which is the city for Alabama. I’ve always wanted to get out, and I’ve always wanted to move to a big city because that’s where I feel the most comfortable because I really love it.
Believe it or not, I actually looked on the map to see where Pinson was and saw that it was, what, about 15 miles from Birmingham. [laughter from both] It’s like . . . hmmm. It’s not really small-town there.
You’ve already kind of answered this, but were you close to any of the girls?
Yes, I actually met Brittany at castings in Atlanta, and we went from castings all the way into the house together, so we had gotten to know each other pretty good before we actually had gotten into the house.
Who’s the craziest one in the house, and who’s creating the most drama?
Oh goodness! Crazy? The craziest as in the silliest was probably Jael. Like she kept everyone laughing. She’s just really fun. Her personality is just so much fun. She’s high-energy all the time. Probably the one who created the most drama or was the most drama-filled was Jaslene. She always was upset, or mad, or wouldn’t talk with any of us.
Were there any girls that you tried to keep your distance from?
I was really nice to everyone. I tried to make sure to stay on everyone’s good side, and I tried not to talk about anyone. I tried to talk to Jaslene and tried to get to know her, and she just didn’t want anything to do with any of us. She kind of just kept her guard up. She’s one of those girls that said, “I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to model! I’m here to win!" (said in an exaggerated, funny voice by Samantha). [laughter]
You said Sarah was your roommate. Did you have any other roommates, or was she the only one?
She was the only one.
You got along well with her?
Yeah, she was really cool. She . . . we listened to a lot of the same music, and it was like a common interest. She let me see her portfolio from her previous work from before the show, and we got along really well.
Dionne was from Alabama, too. Did that create a type of bond between the two of you?
Yeah. [laughs] It was like a weird . . . when I would say something, she would understand what I was talking about because she does the same thing, or she eats the same things, or we cooked the same ways.
There has been a lot of nudity in the house—Kathleen and Jael. Did that bother you, and how would you have reacted to a nude photo shoot as was done last cycle?
I would have been fine with the nude photo shoot because it’s all art to me. It’s a picture. It’s not like I’m running around being naked or anything. [giggles]
You’re not that far removed from high school. What was it like going back to high school?
When I graduated, I thought I wasn’t ever going to go back, and I was really excited about that. Then, they bring me to another high school. Oh, great!
How difficult was it mastering the runway walking routine? We saw a lot of fumbling on TV.
When you’re looking at it, it was like it was going to be so easy. But, then you get on the stage and it’s like the first time you’ve really done anything like this, and you’re being judged on it. You get up there, and it’s like, "Oh my goodness!" You get kind of nervous, and then you forget where you’re supposed to go. But, it was fun. We all practiced before we went on stage again in our dresses in our little groups. We all did it again and how to go back over it. Some of us . . . I’m sure I messed up a few times.
I have to ask this random question because our readers always want to know. How tall are you?
I am 5’10”.
Was that random enough for you?
I actually read y'all's website.
Oh, do you?
Yeah, so I was reading through, and I read all the little comments on everybody, and they always ask everyone: I wonder how tall they are. Why don’t they give stats. I don’t understand why not. [laughs]
If you’ve been reading, you know that a lot of our readers really like you, so you were a favorite.
I was like, "Oh my gosh! They like me!"
The prom fashion show looked as though it would be fun. Tell me more about that.
It was so much fun. I felt like going back and wearing those dresses again, just put you right back in high school. I went to five proms when I was in high school.
Did you wear anything like what you were wearing on the runway?
I had a dress that was kind of like the modern—the green one that I wore, except it was pink and had the high slit, and the middle part of it looked kind of cut out, and it kind of showed my side, and the whole back was out. It was kind of like that, but it was really elegant. It was like the green one I wore. But, I never wore anything [pause]
Ghetto fabulous! I would have been kicked out at prom. [laughs]
Roy Campbell felt you needed more spunk and attitude on the runway. Would you agree with that assessment?
Yes, I really do agree after watching myself. I was like, wow, I’m pretty fun and pretty animated. I could have got into in a lot more. I was just really nervous, but I do agree whenever that’s what he wanted, I should have done that.
Getting back to the ghetto fabulous dress you wore, you thought it should be burned, and it was more like a shirt, and that you never would have gotten out of the house with it. You were completely covered with your dress, though. Were you aware of Sarah’s wardrobe malfunction at the time?
After—when she came back on, she was like, "You know, we were all hanging out. I was hanging out." I asked her did she get that all covered up, and she was like, “No, I didn’t think I was supposed to.” She was told otherwise after that.
Would you have covered yourself up?
Yeah! And high school students?
Yes, I’m sure it was a great day for them.
For your photo shoot, you were the Girl with the Bad Reputation. The previous week you were a Lesbian Lover. Were they trying to tell you something?
To me, I thought there were putting me into situations they thought I was going to react poorly to--you know, have a conflict with. Being from the South, I think they thought I would have a problem with being a lesbian like in the picture, and I don’t have a problem with that at all. I’ve always been completely open about how I feel about that. I completely support anyone who chooses that. I’ve never, ever had a problem with it.
For the second one, the high school reputation photo shoot was tough. I’d never really been . . . people had never really seen me in my underwear, so it was kind of like, "Wow!" But, it was fun once I got into it. I was kidding around with all the girls and the makeup artists. They didn’t show any of that, but I was really into it. I was doing a lot of different things before Jay told me try doing it this way or put your hand here. And, then he was like, "You kind of lost it for a few frames." But, it didn’t show any of my photo shoot whenever I was doing good, and he was, “That’s perfect right there!”
So, you don’t think they were pushing it too far for you to portray something out of character? You were trying to go there.
Yeah, I really was. I think they were trying to make me create a little bit of drama—like be upset about something. But, in modeling you have to do things you don’t necessarily want to do, or you don’t necessarily see yourself as. I know that, and I’m fine with that. It’s just like you’re an actor or actress, but you’re not saying anything.
You mentioned Jay Manuel, so I’ll mention him, too. He made an inappropriate suggestion to you, and you seemed really shocked. I can say it was inappropriate because it was obviously censored. Did that affect the rest of your shoot at all? Is that the rise they were trying to get out of you, do you think?
Yes. It really did affect me. To me, it was unprofessional, especially because we were on TV, and he knows we’re on TV. I mean I really didn’t expect that ever out of his mouth. It kind of threw me off guard, and I kind of lost it there for a while, but I kind of got it back. It was just like "Wow! What? Get out!"
If you had your choice, which cliché would you have preferred for that photo shoot?
Either class clown or the weirdo—the Goth girl.
You said you weren’t the bad girl in high school. What were you when you were in high school? What was your cliché?
I don’t even think I had one. I could have done a lot better in school if would have actually gone to school. I skipped school a lot. Like my high school year, I was probably there half the year when you add it all. I loved art. I still love art. I took every art class you could. I was on the dance line and the soccer team, so I was well-rounded, I guess.
During panel, the comments were that you weren’t trampy enough, yet you had some photos that were sexier than the one they showed, but they didn’t show it because they said you seemed so unsure doing it. How did you feel knowing you possibly had a better photo, but it wasn’t the one chosen for panel?
It upset me, and I know I’ve read girls that were on the show in the past years say that they know they had better shots. You kind of know. Tyra did it; Tyra picked it out duh, duh, duh, duh. It has to be good. It has to be the best one, and then after seeing the picture they took of me, which I don’t think was bad, but I know that I had a better picture.
I didn’t follow that logic because if you were able to get some sexy shots, you obviously got the point of the shoot, so why didn’t they show it?
I know! I know I had better frames than this, and they picked this one? The comments that they said whenever it was me and Natasha made me realize it is a reality TV show. It’s not really so much a modeling competition because they said that. I translate great on film with great pictures, and I’m a model, and I look like a model in person. Natasha is beautiful in person, but she just can’t bring it in the photos. It just doesn’t show up on film.
Right, and that’s part of her critique and your critique, as well. They told you that you had beautiful pictures, but you were lacking personality. Based on your picture and the critique you received, versus what Natasha received, did you think you would be in the bottom two with Natasha, and did you think you would be the one to go home?
I didn’t think I was going to go home. I thought I’d be called out kind of near the end, but I really didn’t think I was going to go home.
I didn’t, either. I’ve got to say I was shocked, especially when they said Natasha didn’t take beautiful pictures, and you took a beautiful picture.
Do you think you were you emotionally/psychologically ready for this competition? If you had it to do over, would you have waited until you had a little more experience?
I think I was ready for it. I still think that I’m ready to start my career and really work hard. I think they tried to make it seem that I wasn’t. I have a great head on my shoulders, and I’m very confident in who I am, and I know I’m going to succeed. I don’t really understand where she got the whole "immature," and I’m just "green." The whole point of the show is if they want to develop a model, then why wouldn’t they want a model that doesn’t know a lot so they can really work with and try to get them to be America’s Next Top Model?
That’s a very accurate statement. I’ve noticed from watching the show they seem to want to mold someone, yet they expect you to already know everything.
What are you plans for the future?
I am going to work on my portfolio and try to meet with agencies outside of Alabama, definitely. If they are interested, we’ll see where they think I’ll be most successful, whether it be in New York, LA, or overseas, and make the move and just work on my career and try to be!
Does that scare you—the thought of leaving home?
A little bit, but my family supports me, and so does my boyfriend. They know that this is what I want to do, and my parents know that eventually I’m going to have to move out and do my own thing, and I wasn’t ever planning on staying in-state, anyway. I was always going to move out of state. [laughs]
Do you feel you’ve gained more self-confidence since leaving the show? Did that help you at all with self-confidence for the modeling world?
Yeah, it definitely did. Just being picked to be in the house made me really realize that I could really succeed, and I could really do this and be successful and have a great career.
If you had had a makeover, what would you liked to have had?
I would have either liked really long extensions with red hair. Not red, but like an auburn or like a short, kind of to my chin, kind of edgy.
I thought maybe since they were editing you as the quiet one that they would cut your hair off—just to see if you’d cry. They seem to like to do that.
I wouldn’t have cried. In high school, I always had short hair, and I just started growing it out. The day before my 18th birthday, I decided to grow it out, so I’ve been growing it out ever since then.
Many thanks to Samantha and CW for this interview opportunity!