"The Viewers Boosted My Confidence The Most!": An Interview With America's Next Top Model 4 Winner Naimaby Phil Kural -- 05/25/2005
The quiet and reserved Naima was a viewers choice as the winner of this season's America's Next Top Model before the season even started, and only the pictures had been placed on the UPN website. Naima, with her exotic looks and stylish Mohawk, was not only a fan favorite, but a favorite of myself as well. I had a chance to interview Naima, and was a bit scared that she would be a little shy during our interview. That wasn't the case though, and Naima was more than happy to tell me about her experience. Here's what she had to say:
RealityNewsOnline: What's the first thing that ran through your mind when you saw your picture on the screen, declaring you the winner this season?
Naima: The whole thing was just so emotional. Knowing that you made it to that point -- I was confident that I was going to win, but you never know. I'm not even sure what was running through my mind, I was just so happy.
RNO: Did it surprise you, thirteen weeks in, to hear Janice say that she didn't like your Mohawk?
Naima: Haha, a little, yes. Janice was just trying to give some advice though, and she knows that I need to be versatile if I want to make it in the industry because trends change. Janice was blunt and honest, so you have to just take her advice for what it is.
RNO: Did you think that being quiet and reserved would be an advantage or a disadvantage?
Naima: I think that being serene and peaceful is not a detriment to anything, however, it could come across that you are trying to hide something. I think I needed a little more belief in myself, and when I found that, I was able to show more self confidence.
RNO: It looked like you were physically reacting to every comment the judges made to you at the last elimination. Was that the case?
Naima: Haha, that definitely was the case, I think I was physically reacting to everything that was said. I mean, it was only down to two girls, and my chances to win were 50/50 so everything that was said at that final panel, I took to heart. It was such a long journey.
RNO: Did you feel that at times some of the other girl's overwhelming personalities overshadowed you?
Naima: No, I don't think any of the other girls really overshadowed me. There were so many eccentric personalities in that house, but everyone had their own role, and everyone stuck out in their own way.
RNO: What did it feel like knowing that you were the Cover Girl of the week every week since the show started?
Naima: It warmed my heart so much to know that the viewers were rooting for me to win. I think the viewers are the ones that gave me the most confidence! It's such a confidence booster when you see that the fans choose you as their favorite, and especially every week!
RNO: Doing the final runway show, was it hard to see the runway in the water, or was it not a problem at all?
Naima: Well, we had a rehearsal during the day, so with the light it was easy to see the runway. When the show started, and it was dark, we had very little light, and had to go on what we did during the day. I mean, if you fell, you fell. You have to just get back up, strike a pose and keep on going. Thank goodness I didn't fall, though!
RNO: Did you think that Keenyah was going to be with you in the finals, or were you leaning more towards Kahlen? Do you think Keenyah would have been good competition for the final challenge?
Naima: Actually, I felt that Kahlen was my biggest competition. She was a friend of mine from the beginning, and I wanted to go against her in the end. Keenyah would have been some good competition, but I believe it was Kahlen that should be in the final two with me, and we both competed the best we could.
RNO: What was the biggest hurdle for you during the competition?
Naima: I would say it was the confidence thing. The judges saw me as tense, and I knew that I would have to find some confidence in me in order to stick around. Luckily, I did find that confidence, and it showed. Once I was over that hurdle, I knew I could do anything.
RNO: Were you nervous that being a dancer would come back to haunt you, just like it did prior contestants?
Naima: No, it was actually quite the opposite. I thought that being a dancer would put me a leg up on the competition because I know how to move my body and how to pose it as well. Everyone noted that they saw the "dancer" in me, but it wasn't a hindrance at all, I would say it's one of the reasons that helped me win.
RNO: What did you think of Keenyah's comments regarding her not understanding what the judges saw in you?
Naima: I'd rather not answer that question, sorry.
RNO: Which of the prizes are you the most excited to get started on?
Naima: I would have to say the photo shoot for Elle. The photographer for that shoot has shot so many major people, including Tyra. Although, to be honest, I'm excited about every aspect of winning the show!
RNO: Now that you have broken into the modeling scene, do you want to try acting now as well?
Naima: Oh, I would love to get into acting. I had fun when we did our acting challenge, and I want to give myself in every aspect that I can. Acting would definitely be something I want to get into in the future.
RNO: Where do you want to see yourself a year from now?
Naima: A year from now I hope to seep myself on the cover of at least two major magazines. I've worked so hard to get here, so I don't want to let it slip through my fingers. I plan to work as hard as I can to get to where I want to be.
RNO: Is there anything you would like to add, or some advice to girls that are thinking about applying to future seasons of the show?
Naima: You have to be brave. If you aren't brave, and don't believe in yourself, then you won't be able to last long in this competition. If you know who you are and believe in yourself, you will accomplish the things you want. Good luck to everyone!
RNO: Thanks, Naima!
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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