ďI Like to Gossip, But Who Doesnít?Ē Ė An Interview With Americaís Next Top Model 10ís Fatimaby Phil Kural -- 05/16/2008
Itís funny Ė if you asked me if I liked or disliked Fatima this season, I probably wouldnít be able to give you a straight answer. Sure, she started crap all the time with the other girls, but you feel bad for her, too, because of the way she was treated when younger. I never really leaned either way, though, until I had a chance to talk with her and find out what the real story was. It turns out, I like her! Read on to see why Fatima knew she wasnít going to win, her thoughts on staying over Stacy Ann, her current relationships with the other girls, and so much more.
RealityNewsOnline: Hey, Fatima! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. Have you watched previous seasons of the show, and what factored into your decision to apply?
Fatima: I didnít really watch the show, like most of the girls that had been in the house this season. I never thought that I could be a model, and it never really crossed my mind. I was brought up by my parents thinking that it was only acceptable for me to go to school and get a degree. I didnít really have much confidence. Trainers of mine told me that when the casting call arrived, if I didnít go, they would drag me down there, so I went and checked it out Ė it was totally random.
RNO: Obviously, the judges were intrigued by not only you this season, but your story. Had you been open about things prior to being on the show?
Fatima: I had talked about it with my family and friends, of course, but it was the first time that I ever told my story publicly. They ask you a lot of questions during the casting and while you are in the house, so you get into telling them a lot of your growing up and stuff. I had to tell it, though, and it felt so good to actually share that side of myself with the show.
RNO: Have you found that you have been a support system, or have girls been able to relate or look up to you because of your story?
Fatima: I hope so! I mean, people have been telling me that I have a lot of fans online and on blogs and such, but I donít really go online. I just wanted to reach out to other women and share my experience. I wasnít trying to come down on my country or my culture, but my intention was to raise awareness of what was going on.
RNO: Itís no secret that this season you have been one of the girls at the center of most of the drama. Was that you intent?
Fatima: Ha! It was never my intention to be dramatic. Iím actually a very quiet person, and any of my friends would tell you that. However, Iím very blunt and Iím always honest. We were in a very intense situation, being around one another all the time. So if I was bored, Iíd go ahead and shake things up a little bit.
RNO: Most of the girls I spoke to this season have mentioned, in one way or another, that you were very antagonistic in the house. Did you know you were coming off that way?
Fatima: I kind of figured I was coming off that way. Some of the girls would tell me that I tended to instigate things in the house, and I just found it fun because I would be bored and would want something to do. Itís a reality show, so I realize you are either going to be loved or hated, and I was fine with that. I was always honest, and thatís why Iíd make a good judge Ė whoever I talked about was the next girl eliminated!
RNO: Have you watched the show and thought that maybe you were a little too critical on some of the other girls, or maybe said something you shouldnít have?
Fatima: Definitely! The thing is, though, you donít see the girls hanging out and being friendly Ė you only see when we argue and fight. The competition was very black and white. I like to gossip, but who doesnít? Everything I said was what I saidÖ I never lied and I was never told to say anything. Itís how I felt at that moment in time, so I canít really regret it, but I do look back and feel bad sometimes.
RNO: What are your thoughts on the situation with you and Stacy Ann? Do you think it was fair you got to stay over the girls that were actually at the photo shoot that week?
Fatima: Honestly, it did cross my mind to step down at that point. Stacy Ann did what she needed to do Ė she was at the photo shoot, she had her papers in order, etc. However, what people donít realize is that immigration takes forever and the process to get my papers was so long. I had applied months in advance for my papers before the show even started, so it wasnít like this was something I started the week before.
Iím thankful to the show for actually helping me get my papers because I still donít think I would have them had I not been helped. As for the thing with Stacy Ann, though, I wanted to be there. I felt bad about Stacy Ann going home, but it could have been anyone. I thought about stepping down, but I didnít want it to seem like I went through all that trouble to get my documents, and then I quit. Itís not me to quit, and I wanted to win.
RNO: Has anyone given you the cold shoulder over getting to stay over Stacy Ann, or anything you said on the show about them?
Fatima: No, not at all. Itís so weird because off the show, and when there are no cameras around, we are all friends now, and itís all squared away. When you are doing the show, you forget there is this whole world out there that you are secluded from. We are all cool now. I actually had dinner last night with Claire and Lauren. You have to remember that English wasnít my first language, so sometimes what I say isnít exactly what I mean, and the girls understood that later.
RNO: In the final three, in panel, did you have any idea you might be on the chopping block?
Fatima: I kinda figured that it was going to be me going. When I saw that Saleisha was the winner the season prior to mine, I knew that there was no way I would win. They werenít going to make a black girl win two seasons in a row Ė and Dominique and I both knew when we got to the house in Rome and saw her photos everywhere that we were done for. Itís about politics, so what can you do?
RNO: Besides the whole passport thing, is there anything you would have changed if you could go back in time?
Fatima: I had a really good experience on the show. I donít regret or feel bad about anything that happened. Everything happens for a reason, and when itís my time to be eliminated, itís my time. I wouldnít change a thing.
RNO: What do you think you got out of the whole experience? Was it more about telling your story, or becoming a model?
Fatima: Everything! Watching the show has been so therapeutic. I went into this never doing anything on a whim before. I went in as this insecure girl, and when the judges would compliment me and tell me that I already look like a model, it would help me grow and realize that Iím not this little girl, but a woman. On top of it, I did get to tell my story.
RNO: So is modeling still something you plan on doing for a long time to come, or are you ready for something new at this point?
Fatima: Of course. I canít wait to actually get out there and work. While on the show, you arenít allowed to do anything, but now I plan on moving, finding an agent, and then just working my butt off to find work and be signed!
RNO: Is there anything you would like to add or say to fans of the show?
Fatima: Iím just so glad itís over, to be honest, since now I donít have to keep a secret anymore! I go to Bryn Mawr College and a bunch of girls were here rooting me on every week, and I loved the support. I had an amazing time, and Iím so thankful for all the support that I received.
RNO: Thanks, Fatima!
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Phil Kural is an office manager at a dental office, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. You can send feedback to him at email@example.com.
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