Victoria was pretty in the unconventional way models are supposed to be. She was funny, she was smart, she got along with all the girls, and she knew how to twist her arms this crazy pretzel way that Tyra loved. So why did she get sent home from America’s Next Top Model on the third episode? Sometimes the world’s not fair, I guess. At least when she was eliminated, while still in the judging room, she removed her shoes and announced “No more high heels!” Now that she’s back at Yale for her junior year, Victoria’s not afraid to tell it like it is—how the panel doesn’t want the girls to talk back to them, how little face time she got with Tyra, and how it was the producers, not her, who told the other girls that she went to Yale. Oh, and if she hadn’t made it on to Top Model, she would have spent her summer driving a mail truck. LOVE HER.
What did you think about Tyra’s advice about listening to people, after being accused of snapping at Twiggy?
The first thing I should say is that I actually didn’t watch the show. I do know how it was edited though. Apparently they made me look like I was snapping back at Twiggy a lot, which just isn’t the case at all. After the show a couple of models called me and were like ‘That conversation never happened, I don’t remember that at all. You weren’t snapping at anybody.’ It’s TV, and they edit it the way they do. I was well-liked in the house. My photos were fine, so if they needed to eliminate me for another reason I guess that was the avenue they chose. I did ask a lot of questions, but because I was curious. They knew I had no experience in the industry. When they would tell me things like ‘You have a very different look,’ I was trying to figure out how I could use that for my advantage. Apparently that’s not the protocol in panel. I would ask them questions and they would always get really flustered, and they wouldn’t answer me very well.
You said on the show that you learned a lot from being a model.
I went into the competition thinking that this was an industry that valued walking coat hangers and nothing really beyond that. I came out of it sort of thinking the same thing. The show is geared in a specific way to make it seem like modeling takes a lot of different qualities, but in reality, as long as you have the right body type and the right look and you’re able to take great pictures and have a great walk, and you’re not insane, then you have a pretty good shot at making it. I think that Tyra looks for girls with personalities that she likes, but quiet girls don’t really do that well.
Which girls do you think deserve to win most?
I really like and respect all of them. I know no one really says that. I do think they all have a lot going for them. Based on pure ability—Jenah, Chantal, Heather and maybe Ebony would be my pick for a really successful model.
What did your fellow classmates at Yale have to say?
Everyone was very taken aback. [For me] it was either taking the chance and going on that show or I was going to drive a mail truck all summer to make money for school. People here do watch it and they were rooting for me, which was nice.
Have you been mobbed?
To be honest I have a very normal life. I think the extent of my celebrity was when I went to Walgreens and someone took a picture of me on their camera phone. I’m a very Y-list celebrity now.
Do you think they chose you maybe because you’re from Yale?
Absolutely. To be fair I made it to the callback purely based on looks. Once they found out I went to Yale, they were definitely more interested. I fulfilled a stereotype or a character that they wanted on the show.
Did that inhibit you, being the “smart girl”?
This is the biggest problem I had with the show. Apparently every episode they would put something from Yale in there […] I didn’t tell the girls that I went to Yale, and they only found out because the producers told them, and [the producers] tried to make it an issue in the house. I really did not talk about it or mention it. Intelligence, to be honest, really has nothing to do with modeling. People try to say it does, it really doesn’t.
Although you weren’t very interested in modeling, how do you rate yourself as a model?
I’ve never thought that I’ve been very typically pretty. I’m a very gangly, pale girl. I think my pictures were good. I don’t know if I’m what agencies are looking for or not. I’m definitely not adverse to trying it out or pursuing it. […] I am what I am. I’d rather be interesting looking than pretty.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
I guess I would just refuse to answer them when they asked me questions about Yale or education. I had a good time; I made friends with a lot of the girls.
Do the judges at panel act like you’re not supposed to speak with them?
They’re not used to being questioned or talking about what they’re saying much. They did get flustered and didn’t know how to explain their statements very well. I was really just trying to understand what they were saying […] I wanted to understand why this photo was good and why this photo wasn’t good. They also seemed to try to contradict themselves a lot.
I heard you decided to go on the show as a joke. Why?
I didn’t just do it for the sheer hell of it. It’s always better to do things than to not do them. That’s a very passive or cowardly way to go through life. I was up front from the very beginning that I went as a dare, and they still chose to put me on the show. I don’t regret it.
Going from being around all Yale students to living with girls from all over, was it a big change?
It was actually kind of refreshing. It was nice to sort of get out of the ivory tower for a little bit and experience something vastly different. It is kind of strange to go from a world that values how you speak and how you write and who you represent yourself to a world that values appearance. It was kind of fun in that respect.
Which were your favorite photo shoots?
My cactus one was really fun. I liked it. It was just such a ridiculous outfit. The photo shoot actually got a lot better.[…] Of course they didn’t use that in the panel. I really liked the rock-climbing one actually. It was definitely a challenge in moving, but it was a lot of fun.
Are you still in school at Yale? What are your plans regarding modeling?
I’m a junior. I study history. I really did like the photo shoots, and I did like the pure modeling aspect of the show. I will definitely keep my options open […] That being said, I would never drop out of school.
Will you watch the show now that you’re not on it?
I think I will. I haven’t been watching it for two reasons. I just want to remember it how it was and not how it was edited and how they make my friends look or me look. [Also] if I did watch it I would never ever stop laughing at myself.
Who are you rooting for to win?
It’s so hard, because I really do like everybody a whole lot. My favorites would be Heather, Jenah, Chantal, Ambreal, Sarah…I really do like everyone. They’re all quite talented.
Did Tyra have a lot of interaction with you throughout the show, or do they edit it?
She really didn’t at all for me. I kind of knew from the very beginning of the show that I wasn’t going to make it very far. She called all the other girls personally to congratulate them on going on the show. She would say things to me that weren’t very polite, I guess. We didn’t have that much interaction with her. I wish I’d sat down with her and had a conversation, but it was all very calculated, which is to be expected and understood.
Is Tyra intimidating at panel?
Yeah. She scared the bejesus out of me at times. Getting up at panel is really intimidating. I was quite nervous a lot of the time. The environment is very stressful. Keep in mind that none of us had slept at all. They sleep deprive you so much that you are very wound up. That’s why everyone cries and catfights all the time. […] I laughed a lot in very inappropriate places, because it is so overly-dramatic at times.
Is using intellectual ability a way to empower women?
Absolutely. I’ve always been very adamant about showing that you are smart, and not to be ashamed of it. […] It’s OK to be smart. it’s OK to be intelligent, as long as you’re not overbearing about it, that’s fine. I’m not like Chantal, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a supermodel. I went through a period where I wanted to be an astronaut or historian or mathematician. I think those professions have a lot more impact on the world than the modeling one does.
Part of being an intellectual is challenging people through questions. Were other girls doing that?
The way you get ahead on that show is to nod and smile and look pretty or sob about how you wanted this your whole life, or your mom has cancer or AIDS or no legs, or if you don’t become a model you’re a worthless human being. Part of life is challenging peoples’ beliefs and knowing you’re wrong some of the time, and other people are wrong some of the time. I would rather be eliminated for asking questions or being seen as argumentative than crying. Reality TV is definitely not reality.