When Cassandra quit America’s Next Top Model during the show’s fifth season, it was over a bad haircut, and took place during the photo shoot. On Wednesday Ebony became the first Top Model contestant to quit to Tyra’s face, after being in the bottom two at elimination and being told she could stay. It’s really worth watching the YouTube clip to understand just what went down:
After undoubtedly the most dramatic exit in Top Model in history, Ebony is back in Chicago studying nursing, and says she’s not sure she would go back on the show if she were given the chance. There’s clearly a lot not being said—she wasn’t allowed to speak about what was cut out in the scene between her and Tyra, or even her feelings on Tyra now. What’s certain, though, is that Ebony has definitely moved on.
At what moment did you know that you really were going to quit the show?
The decision I made was not a spur of the moment kind of thing. It’s something I was thinking about two weeks before I did. I just did not want to be there anymore. I really didn’t have a desire for it. I really didn’t care at that point about being America’s next top model. I really didn’t care for it half as much as the other girls did. I really didn’t feel it would be fair for me to stay there when I didn’t care for it as much.
Why didn’t you care for it anymore?
It was just the reality show. From watching the show I thought ti would be something totally different. I really missed my family. I never got used to the cameras following us around. I just was uncomfortable. Being on a reality TV show it’s like you’re in [another] world.
Once you knew you wanted to quit, why didn’t you just up and quit rather than go through the motions?
For a minute I was worried about what people may say. I didn’t want my father to be disappointed in me. After a while I just told myself, you’re not happy, why stay in a situation where you’re not happy> I wanted to be real with myself and not worry about what other people may say or think.
Was there stuff cut out between you and Tyra when you quit? Stuff was definitely cut out, cut and pasted, but I can’t talk about that unfortunately. A lot of stuff was cut out.
Why can’t you talk about it?
Due to confidentiality agreements that I signed, I can’t talk about anything that wasn’t shown.
How does it feel to be labeled a quitter by Tyra?
When she called me a quitter I was a little upset by it, but after a while I realized that people are entitled to their own opinion. I just realized that that wasn’t my passion, and I was so over the whole reality TV show. It really doesn’t bother me now.
Did any of the other girls know you were going to quit?
I discussed with Lisa that I wanted to leave and that I was backing down, and she was like ‘Oh, don’t do it, you need to stay and stick it out.’ But at that point nothing was stopping me. None of the other girls knew what I was going to do.
Did you get a chance to say goodbye to the other girls?
I hugged the girls. After Tyra said what she said I asked her if I could hug the girls and she said yes. After that I told Tyra I was sorry for wasting her time, she said what she said and I left. They didn’t’ show that part of course.
It seemed that you knew for a while that you wanted to quit. Did you try your hardest at the shoots?
I was in the photo shoots trying to give it a bang every week. Sometimes I failed at that. There wasn’t a time when I went into a photo shoot intentionally trying to not do well.
Your personality really seemed to shift after Tyra told you in the casting episode that the other girls didn’t like you.
Going into the competition I thought, well, this is a reality show, so I’m sure they’re going to want a drama queen. I created that person, and was later confronted by Tyra about it, which I totally deserved because I was out of control. I was just trying to make it on the show. I was trying to do whatever would get me some attention and get me on the show. That’s one thing I regret. I wish I would have stayed myself throughout the competition.
Is there anything else you regret?
I regret not speaking up as much. I was so quiet. When they would tell me what I needed to work on, I should have spoken up more, I think, as opposed to just standing there.
Do you think you’ll pursue modeling?
When I left the show I had it in my brain that I didn’t want to have anything to do with modeling. The whole reality show turned me off of that. But it was just the reality show I wasn’t really feeling. I’m not sure if I want to make a career out of it. Nursing right now is my passion. Maybe things may change later on down the line.
What did you like and dislike most about being on the show?
I liked wearing the expensive couture gown and the Dior shoes and expensive stuff. I disliked being away from my family and not being able to talk to them as much. That’s something I didn’t get used to. And the cameras following you around, that was just annoying to me after a while.
What was the one thing you learned most about yourself throughout the experience?
I learned so many things. Probably the most important thing that I learned is that family is so important. Before coming on the show I was the most shallow and materialistic person I knew. Here I am in this $15 million home in the Hollywood hills, surrounded by the most lavish things, and I wasn’t happy. All I could think about was my family.
What was the best piece of advice you got while you were there?
The best piece of advice I got was to smile. I didn’t really how silly I looked until I saw the show. I can’t stop smiling now.
I hear a lot more happiness in your voice now than there was in the show. Why was that? What exactly did the show do to beat you down so much?
In the house I was joyful and happy like I am now, but for some reason they didn’t show any of that footage. Going into panel for some reason I never felt comfortable. They describe it as being attitude-ish, but watching the show it’s screaming out nervous-ness.
If you were to do it all again, would you not try out? I don’t think I would have tried out if I had known a lot of things I’ve learned.
Have you gotten a lot of feedback about the show from your friends and family?
A lot of people are very supportive about the decision I made. I spoke to my father and he said ‘Well, you’re still my America’s next top model.’
What advice would you give to other women who might want to try out for the show?
Go in there with an open mind, and be prepared for a lot a lot of pressure and stress.