Though she was only around for two episodes, Kimberly Leemans has been involved with America’s Next Top Model for a while: she auditioned for cycle 8, but didn’t make it. This time around she made her mark in a forceful, but not necessarily flattering way: talking about fellow contestant Heather, who has Asperger’s, Kimberly noted she wouldn’t let Heather get too close, since people with Asperger’s tend to be “clingy.” Despite this, Kimberly said she maintains great relationships with all the girls from the show, including Heather, and stands by what she said. A native of Ocala, Florida with big plans to continue in the modeling and entertainment world, Kimberly spoke on a conference call to discuss her experience on the show, and how wearing a straitjacket can mess with your brain.
What do you think it was that changed, or they saw, that was different the second time you auditioned?
My first time around I definitely wasn’t physically ready. Once I got denied the first time, I really, really wanted to make it the second time. I started working out more, I changed my diet. I had this really nasty blond hair, and I want back to my natural color. I was a little bit more prepared, I wasn’t as nervous. I kind of knew how it was going to be.
Who do you think should have been eliminated before you?
I thought that Ebony was going to be in the bottom two before, because she had been in the bottom two the previous week. Her whole attitude at the house seemed to be going down, like she didn’t want to be there anymore. The panel saw that in person, so I thought that would have bee a negative point. But Nigel was in love with her, and you win over one judge you win over most of them. I thought Ebony would at least be in the bottom two with me. I don’t know, I felt robbed.
How do you feel about Tyra clowning the black vest that you wore in your audition photos?
Way to call me out! That just shows how involved she is. She says she handpicks us. When she said it off the top of her head, “And I remember your audition photo.” Thanks to my friend in Miami for letting me borrow that and getting me kicked off the show! That’s definitely not my style, but I drove to Miami overnight and didn’t have anything they wanted us to wear, so I borrowed that. I got the “hoochie” name before the show.
Are there any good stories that we didn’t get to see?
I was really hope they would show Bianca crashing into the window. We had glass windows all over the house, and they were really clean. We were all cooking some lunch and she was walking out to the balcony, and she smashed into the window! [Also] all the girls were really environmental. They were all really excited about the environmental background of the show. We started wanting to put some money together, to give to different organizations. [Kimberly is involved with the Humane Society, and Heather wanted to make donations to organizations supporting people with Asperger’s] We were really excited about it.
Now that you see what Bianca had to say as far the tips she tried to give you, do you hold ill will toward her?
Not at all. Bianca was definitely one of my closest friends in the house, which was kind of funny because she ended up being one of the biggest bitches. No ill feelings—that’s my “Biankers.” That was really funny when I saw that.
How did you feel getting to walk in that straitjacket [the runway challenge in the second episode]?
It was creepy! First of all, that was a real old abandoned insane asylum. That added a whole feel to it. [The straitjacket] was really rough. I wasn’t expecting it to be cashmere or anything, but it was rubbing your skin off to a point. We had to be in there for a while while they got the shots done. You sort of get into this mentality—it really starts to mess with you. I know some of the girls started getting really claustrophobic.
You’ve gotten some flak online for what you said about Heather and not wanting her to “cling” to you. How did you feel seeing that on TV?
I’ve been getting hell for what I said on the show. Honestly, looking back on it, I don’t regret anything I said, because everything I said is what I meant. It was a group discussion where all of us were talking about everybody, and Heather was right next to me. [Kimberly explained that her mom works with children with Asperger’s] I’ve seen different personalities like that, and that’s why I made the statement about people clinging.
Do you think you were properly represented?
Heather and I were really good friends. They showed me backstabbing her in a sense, which hurt my feelings. Everyone thinks I’m a heartless bitch. She’s a good girl, but in the real world I don’t thinks he would be able to make it. We were waking her up, telling her to take her showers and take her pills. For the show I think it’s a definite wonderful step, but in the real competition [in the real world], I don’t think she could have made it.
Who are you still in touch with?
All the girls were amazing, and I keep in touch with all of them except Ebony. Not that she was a bitch, we just never clicked, she just never opened up. Ambreal was y first friend in the house, and then Janet. Mila and I became friends after the show.
What are your plans now?
I’m open for anything. I hope this opens every door, for modeling, acting, activism. I’m really big into the humane society. Anything, anything that is available I would love try. I’m a free woman as of today.
It’s bittersweet. My biggest fear was that they were going to chop all my hair off, do a pixie cut and then bleached blond. In a sense I’m happy that I left with my hair.
Tyra kept mentioning you need to watch your “hoochiness.” Did that come totally out of left field?
I was definitely shocked by it. I keep getting picked on by my friends. I had to explain to my dad--he’s Belgian and doesn’t understand English very well--I said “It’s a good thing!” She just kept that audition picture in her mind. Even in my pictures I didn’t feel like I was overtly sexual posing.
But hey, she said you had fantastic ears.
I’ve been picked on forever. I was like ‘Yeah! If Tyra Banks calls them cool they must be. Everyone’s like ‘You’re an elf queen, you look like Orlando Bloom from Lord of the Rings.
Regarding the Saleisha and Bianca blowout, did they ever make up? Who started the fight?
I was sitting next to Bianca, and we were talking to Saleisha about previous experience. We heard she went to the T-zone camp, and she was in a Wendy’s commercial, and we thought that was kind of unfair. She was winning all the challenges, so we were jealous. We were talking to her, saying ‘Do you think that’s fair? What kind of experience do you really have?’ I always thought America’s Next Top Model was for amateurs to build from the bottom to the top. That’s how [the fight] started. Someone got offended somewhere along the line. What they didn’t show also was Chantal got involved, and it turned crazy. It was a big blowout, and that really sucked. That definitely split up the girls into two different camps. It was team Bianca, team Saleisha and Chantal. It took a while, but things cooled down after that.
What advice would you give somebody who was looking to audition for the show?
Do it but don’t do it. It was an amazing, amazing experience, and I came out with 12 amazing friends, and just did crazy things that I could have never done in normal everyday life. But be prepared. They don’t show you everything that goes into it behind the scenes. It definitely gets to you, and it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Do you regret not putting a little more oomph into some of your photo shoots?
For the photo shoots and everything, I didn’t get any advice for the first two photo shoots until after the second photo shoot was done. When I went into panel, I was like, ‘I finally got some advice from Mr. J and I would hate to go home without being able to show you what I learned. That’s why I felt like I was robbed in a sense.
We’ve heard in the past that you guys don’t have any choice in which photos are selected. Do you feel that you might have had a photo that might have been better?
I really feel like they picked the worst picture for me to get me out. If you look at them shooting my photo shoot, I was doing a bunch of different poses, and they picked the one where I was crunched against the wall, taking a crap in mid-air. I definitely felt like that wasn’t fair.
Can you give me your prediction on who you think should be the final three?
I think Victoria has incredible potential. She reminds me of one of those little St. Ives girls who run through the forest. She’s so quiet and calm in person, but she takes amazing pictures. Heather definitely takes beautiful pictures, she’s a stunning girl, so I definitely think she’ll be up there. And I hope Bianca’s up there, because if I got sent home for nothing I’ll be pissed, so she’d better be up there too!
You mentioned that you would like to be on TV again. What reality show if any would you like to be on?
No more reality shows, that’s for sure! The only reason I did Top Model is because you can get something out of it. You meet amazing people in the industry, and you learn so much, and you get to do these amazing things, instead of these random reality shows where’s it you embarrassing yourself on TV. You can get great contacts and learn something from it. Top Model will definitely be the only one I want to do and will ever do.
What would you have changed about your time on the show?
Nothing. I did everything that I could have done from the critiques that I got. I met the girls, I did everything to the fullest. I just wish they wouldn’t have shown me hating on heather like that. that threw people off about me, and that wasn’t how it was at all. I had an amazing time and I wouldn’t have changed anything except go further.
Who would be the three girls you think should be kicked off?
Ebony, because she doesn’t seem to have the passion for it anymore. God, they all have so much potential. I don’t feel like I did bad, just everybody else did so good. This is such a great group of girls.