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Reality TV Interview

Kayla ('America's Next Top Model')

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Kayla from America's Next Top Model

© The CW

Kayla said that she entered America's Next Top Model knowing that she wanted to be a model and departed the competition feeling like one. The 19-year-old, who also left with a radical new hairstyle, was eliminated just one stage shy of the finale in an episode that saw Tyra directing the girls in a motion editorial. However, Tyra told her that she had something "special" and suggested she also look at acting as a possible career. We caught up with her to talk about her experience on the show and find out whether she kept that fiery red hair!

How did it feel watching back the episode this week?
"I almost missed it but I got it! I personally hate watching myself on TV... it's just really weird to see yourself. [You think], 'Oh my gosh, why didn't I put make-up on that day?' or something like that. But it was fun. I was texting Jane the whole time and we were making fun of each other so it was kinda cool."

Going into panel did you think you had done enough to make the final?
"I think every single one of us could say, 'I wish I had done this better', or, 'I wish I had done that', but I think collectively throughout the competition I did pretty well the whole time so I thought I had a really good chance of being a finalist and I was really close."

The judges seemed to like your motion editorial and you'd just had a double best photo win. Why do you think you just missed a place?
"That's a really good question - even my mum asked me that. Top Model is usually [about] somebody who gets better; you don't always start out that great but as long as you get better... Ann, for example, got five best photos in a row but since then she never won anything so it seemed like she was kinda going down. I really did see myself and Chelsey maybe being the top two but I don't really know what it could have been. I think they kind of looked at the overall package and probably felt that Ann was more high-fashion than me and that's what the season is about, and they saw Chelsey's drive and how much she wanted it."

How did you find the motion editorial with Tyra? You seemed nervous going into it...
"When Tyra was explaining it to me I really didn't get it or know what it was, but when she actually showed me I got it and warmed up to it and it was actually the most fun I have had on any photoshoot ever to date. If I got eliminated off anything it was great that I got eliminated off something where I had a lot of fun. The whole time I was doing it I really didn't hear one negative comment and I was actually kind of excited going into judging thinking, 'I might really have this'."

What happened with the dresses being too big?
"I don't know what it was, if it was the Italian food or what, but I lost some weight in Italy. I think it was just the humidity and we were constantly running around and doing things. I was like, 'Tyra, why isn't anything fitting me? These things are huge!' and then she'd go and put it on Ann and it would fit! I was like, 'What's going on here?!' I did suggest things like using clips (laughs)... It was a really hard thing trying to find things that fit me because they kept falling off. God didn't bless me with boobs and that's what I will blame it on!"

This week was a solo shoot but there have been a few this season with male models. Can you explain your journey from that initial discomfort to nailing the statue shoot with your chemistry?
"If I was modelling with the girls like Jane or Chelsey or the photoshoot I did with Liz and Chris, it is good energy because it's about outshining [the other girls] and seeing who can stand out more in the photo. But when you are interacting with a male model it always felt like sexual chemistry and it was like, 'Puke, I'm over this'. I don't know what it was but I pretty much realised, 'OK, this is what modelling is about and I have to learn how to fake it until you make it'. Towards the end, when we had that statue photoshoot, I decided to give it my all and act like he was Adriana Lima and that is exactly what I did!"

Are you comfortable posing with male models now or is that something you're still working to feel comfortable about?
"I feel really confident. If I got a call from Tyra today and she said, 'Hey, I have a photoshoot for you with three male models', or whatever I'd be completely fine. I wouldn't be nervous about it at all. After the show is all said and done I have a new confidence when it comes to taking photos and doing certain things."

There was a really emotional moment when you opened up to Mr Jay about a past assault. Do you think that affected your journey in the competition or your confidence?
"At that time and in that moment it really did. I really didn't want to talk about it but after a lot of thought I decided to. I thought to myself, 'You are always afraid of what the judges will think of you'. That's just how it is, like, 'Will they see me as a weak person now?'... There are always a bunch of things going through your head but at the end of the day I was glad I did it and I don't think it hindered me in any way. If anything, I think it took weight off my shoulders and made me a lot more confident because after that I started doing really well and winning best photo. I think it was beneficial for me."

Has your experience on the show given you even more drive to succeed as a model?
"Before [the show] I really didn't know how to break in [to modelling] but now I feel like I've met a lot of industry insiders and I've got a lot of knowledge and I feel like I know how to get to where I need to get to. I'm really excited about that. My dream right now - my goal and passion - is to make it out in Tokyo. I have a couple of meetings with agencies out there so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it goes well. [I'm interested in Tokyo] because my mum is moving there; she's getting married."

You entered the competition as a blonde and left as a redhead. Have you kept the colour?
"Oh yeah! I still have the red hair; I love it and get lots of compliments on it. I do live by a small town and whenever I go there people do kind of look at me because it is so red like, 'Where did she come from?' (laughs). I would never have gone red on my own because I didn't think I'd look good but turns out I do! I enjoy it and plan on keeping it."

You have a Grammy Awards role coming up at next year's ceremony. Do you know what you are doing yet?
"I think I'm going to just be handing the Grammy, I don't really know! I'm just excited that I'm in attendance! It wouldn't even matter if I was doing the dishes at the back, I'm just excited that I'll be there!"

Do you have to figure out your own outfit or will you get help?
"(Laughs) I wouldn't want to have to go through that struggle on my own or end up on a worst dressed list or something! I talked to Neil [Portnow, the CEO and president of the Recording Academy] a little bit further about it after I won it and he told me they would be providing hair, make-up and wardrobe. I was like, 'Score! This is the whole package. I get a free trip, I'm going to the Grammys and everything will be done for me!' I'm excited!"

You said you're hoping to pursue modelling in Tokyo but what about acting? That was raised as a possibility for you at panel...
"Actually that wasn't the first time I'd heard it - I heard it a couple of times [before] and from Nigel as well. I'd never really heard anybody say that I should pursue acting before so now I have got so much positive feedback on my so-called acting skills (laughs)... I do want to look further into it but right now I want to focus so much on modelling that acting won't be for a while. It would be somewhere in the future but not right now."

Have you got a favourite photoshoot?
"My favourite photoshoot hands down was the statue photoshoot and that's only because Mr Jay was so excited. On that photoshoot he told me, 'I feel like a proud papa, I'm so excited!' Everybody was just loving the shoot and I was loving it and feeling it... In a lot of the photoshoots I always wondered how they were turning out and thought I was doing good but wasn't sure and that was the first photoshoot were I had 100% confidence that I was doing really, really well."

Do you have a favourite between Ann and Chelsey for the win?
"I like both girls but I connected a lot with Chelsey at the end and I feel like she wants it so bad. I feel like she is more of the total package - she can speak well in public, she's friendly, she's bubbly and she's what America's Next Top Model is all about and I really hope she wins it. She is one of the sweetest, most sincere people in the world and I absolutely love her so I hope it's Chelsey but we'll see!"

America's Next Top Model continues next Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW

> Click here to read our interview with fellow eliminee Jane
> Click here to read our full recap of this week's episode

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