"I Took The Judges’ Advice And Ran With It": An Interview with America's Next Top Model 4's Michelleby Phil Kural -- 04/29/2005
I don't want to sit here and say that I wasn't a Michelle fan, because deep down, I did like her. However, I did find her annoying, and her crying at times was just a little too much to handle. I was fortunate enough, as always, to get to interview Michelle. In this interview, she talks about who she connected with, what she thought of the experience as a whole and whose elimination shocked her the most. In my opinion, I don't think Michelle was ready for this show. She's a good looking girl, but I think the judges tore her up, especially when they knew they could upset her by critiquing her. Janice just had too much of a field day with her.
RealityNewsOnline: Had you watched previous seasons of the show, and what factored into your decision to apply? Did you send in a tape or go to an open call?
Michelle: To tell you the truth, I had no idea what America's Next Top Model even was. I was actually called by one of the producers of the show, who had seen my picture on a web page, and asked me if I was interested in being on the show. So we ended up meeting, I made a video, and I kept on moving through the process until I found myself in the semifinals! I never thought I would even get there!
RNO: From the beginning, did you feel like an outcast compared to the other girls?
Michelle: Yeah, I did a little bit in the beginning, but that's only because I thought all the other girls were so beautiful, and I didn't think that I really measured up to them. Over time though, I started to gain more self confidence, which helped me fit into the group a little more, but I'd says I was always an outcast.
RNO: Even though it seemed like you didn't seem to connect with the other girls, was there anyone that you felt a connection with?
Michelle: I'd say that I connected with Tiffany the most, although, when I "came out" to the three girls - Tiffany, Noelle and Brandy - I'd say they all got to know the real me. However, I really got to like Tiffany, and she was always there to listen, as I helped her when she was feeling sad about not having her baby around.
RNO: When you got impetigo, did you know what the other girls were saying about you, and did you feel it was blown out of proportion?
Michelle: God, I never knew they were overreacting the way that they were, or even saying half the stuff that was said. I think it was blown out of proportion, and the fact that we are all cooped up with nothing to do could have had something to do with it. I mean, some of the girls were more upset with it than I was, and it was on MY skin!
RNO: You noted several times that your self confidence had grown from the experience. Could you elaborate a little more on that?
Michelle: When I first started on the show, and went to LA for the semifinals, I didn't even think I was going to get picked. For some reason, I didn't feel like I deserved to be there, and didn't think that I was going to make it any further. When my name was called, I was in shock, since I was just hoping that Tiffany would make it after hearing her story from the season before -- so when they called my name, I didn't even know how to react. From that point on, I just started growing, and after each shoot, I became more confident with who I was.
RNO: You had been one of the last girls called at several eliminations. Each time this happened, did you think you were going home?
Michelle: Until the elimination when I was standing there with Keenyah, I was confident that I would be sticking around. However, for the elimination that I went home, as we were waiting while the judges deliberated, I knew that it was my time to go. The other five girls had worked just as hard as me, and deserved to be there. I knew that I would be the one going home at that point.
RNO: Being a wrestler, and probably a little more rough around the edges than some of the other girls, did you feel that you were at a disadvantage?
Michelle: Actually, I think being a wrestler helped me in the competition. I was toned and had the strength to work though the shoots. Also, I had no problem faking the grace, and I know how to walk in heels. I worked it out, but being a wrestler helped me in the competition.
RNO: What did you think of South Africa, and is it some place you could see yourself going to visit again?
Michelle: Oh, I would love to live there! I've always enjoyed other cultures, and I've read in books about the safaris and desserts and rainforests, but it was cool to see the other side of South Africa. It was just like Indianapolis, and I loved it there. It was so beautiful and I would love to go back again.
RNO: Do you feel that some of the girls underestimated you in the competition?
Michelle: I do feel like some of the girls underestimated me, but I never once underestimated any of them. I had taken what the judges had told me from each panel session and worked with their critiques. Every time another elimination went by, and I was still around, I think the other girls realized that I was a threat just as much as the next girl.
RNO: Honestly, were the lions really that close to the jeep that you might have been in any kind of danger?
Michelle: Well, they were about two feet away from us, and I feel like had the driver not pulled away, we would have been eaten. I wasn't all that worried, but when a lion is looking at you like you are a big meatball, you do get a little nervous!
RNO: Sometimes it seems like Brittany acts like she is in high school, with her being the popular girl and everyone having to pay attention to her. Was that the editing, or did she always need to be the center of attention?
Michelle: I think that's just Brittany's personality. She was an only child, and she's used to getting all the attention, but she's a great girl and just likes to have fun. The editing pretty much has her down, but under all that loudness, Brittany is one of the most caring girls you could know.
RNO: Knowing how long and stressful the whole process was, do you think you would do it all over again?
Michelle: Oh, I would do it again in a second. I learned so much from the whole thing that I would go through it all over again. Even Janice taught me some things, and when she would come down on me, that would want me to prove her wrong even more.
RNO: Whose elimination shocked you the most?
Michelle: I think the double elimination shocked me the most. I had thought it would be Rebecca when she was standing there with Tiffany, since she had been in the situation before. Then, when Tyra had the blank picture, I didn't know how to react. At first, I thought it was a mistake, but when she said that both of the girls were going home, nobody knew what to do since none of us saw it coming. That was the biggest shock for me the whole time I was there.
RNO:Since you have been on the show, have you gone back to wrestling, or are you going to try and pursue modeling full time?
Michelle: I have been doing some wrestling, but when the show is over in the middle of May, I think I'll be done with it. I'm going to move to NYC in June, and pursue modeling. A choice had to be made, and I could only do one or the other, and I want to do modeling. If it doesn't work out, I can always go back to wrestling, and how that maybe the WWE will give me a call -- I'm here, call me! I'll be all right.
RNO: What kind of advice would you give to girls that are thinking about applying to future seasons of the show?
Michelle: I would just say that if you want to do this -- go for it. Just be strong and know who you are. Don't take it too seriously, the way that I did. There is no reason to be as hard on yourself as I was. If you believe that you are a star, than you will be.
RNO: Thanks, Michelle!
Phil Kural is a recent graduate from Temple University, with a degree in journalism. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback that you may have.
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