How did you get involved in the show?
"Tyra asked me to be on the show to talk about and share my experiences because I've been doing this for ten years. I didn't want to just go and judge an episode; I wanted to be involved and do something that can help these girls and be inspiring. I wanted to come as their peer. I haven't seen the episode yet but the whole filming was very casual. I came to the girls' mansion in California, I had no heels on, I was very simple and I came almost like their friend who wanted to hang out with them and talk about their experiences, what they had been through and why they wanted to be models. I shared my story of how I started and gave them secrets and tips about how to be successful. It's not all about just being beautiful, I told them how to take care of themselves and the importance of eating well and exercise and all the little things I have learned over the years being in front of the camera... I spent almost three hours with them, without the judging, where we just sat down in a circle and they could ask me any questions."
Why was it important to talk about healthy eating with the girls?
"I think it's very important to teach a lot of these girls who come from small towns or maybe don't understand or have any idea how to take care of themselves and eat properly. Maybe they have misconceptions that they need to eat lettuce and drink loads of water to be skinny and look great and be successful. That's really not the truth. It's important to eat well because you need the fuel and energy. I know myself, I can't just be living on lettuce and water. I think people have a misunderstanding that to be a successful model you have to not eat or eat plain and boring, which isn't true. I eat very organic and I'm into natural foods and healthy eating and exercise and taking care of yourself from within. Especially when the girls showed me what they were eating like fried Oreos and then wondering why their skin was bad! Just simple things like that can make a difference for their skin, the way they feel, their energy, their bodies. When you eat well and feel good it will show in the photographs and your work. I feel like our industry has been getting such a bad rap; models don't take care of themselves and smoke and drink and don't eat and that's not my case. I have never smoked in my life, I don't really drink and I'm all about good eating and getting all the nutrients."
Is cooking a passion of yours?
"I lately have been really enjoying cooking. I've always enjoyed it but never really had that much time for it because I'm not always at my home, but now when I'm home I try to cook as much as I can. When I travel I go to restaurants, I'm eating in hotels, so it's important that I come home and prepare healthy snacks. I can make healthy snacks for my son and make juices, which I also made for the girls and they loved which I'm so proud of because it's hard to win over girls who are used to eating chips and fried Oreos! And then when I left, I left a blender as my gift and they started using it which is huge and amazing. Juice is good and tasty and your body just loves it and wants more of it. So, yes, I'm actually really getting into cooking and exploring and getting new cookbooks."
Have you watched the show before?
"I've seen the show a few times. I don't see it all the time every time because I do travel a lot and having a baby I don't watch that much TV. But I like what Tyra does and her effort to inspire and teach and groom these girls to fulfill their dreams; I think it's amazing and she makes it really fun. She is really teaching them and giving them interesting things to do which they have to overcome and I think it's good because you have to experience and see both sides of any industry. It's not all showing up and being beautiful and everything will come to your feet. It is hard work; you have to work at it, take care of yourself and be educated. Know what photographers are working, what are the magazines, who are the stylists and make-up artists, and all those things. I think she is doing a good job and this season is getting more and more fashion people involved like Diane von Furstenberg, Patricia Field, Zac Posen. A lot of high-end fashion people who want to get involved and help and teach and share their knowledge to these girls and the rest of the world."
What did you think of the girls this cycle?
"I think they are all nice girls and very different girls; there are all different types of girls that can do different things from editorial to more commercial work or more runway or movie-type of things. When I met the girls it was the beginning and I think they still had a lot to learn. They had to get more comfortable with who they are and understand who they are and who they want to be, most importantly. They need to come out of their shells and own who they are... I remember there was one girl who has a baby and she was missing her baby and doing the show for her baby. For me, that was powerful because I had just had a baby when I did the episode so I really felt for her and admired her, that she was making this sacrifice for her child to have a better life. She'd been working three jobs and this is something she really wanted to do."
You were being a mentor to the girls. Who gave you advice when you first began?
"I have to say that I didn't really have a mentor or anyone I could go and talk to. I always had great agents around me who supported me and were there for me but they weren't always with me or there if I needed to cry on someone's shoulder. I kind of learned everything myself and kind of figured it out. Thank God I had a good upbringing and a good head on my shoulder. I was very independent and organised and street-smart. There were some bumps in the road but that's life; if we didn't have those bumps we wouldn't learn and be who we are. I always say that I appreciate those difficult or sad moments because I can really help somebody else who is going through hard times and really be there for them and have an understanding and be compassionate truly on their level. I don't regret anything."
The contestants get to do lots of crazy stunts and shoots. What was the craziest thing you've ever had to do as a model?
"I had to do a whole photoshoot advertising under the water so I had to learn how to breathe with a tank underwater and practice in a pool before going in the ocean and doing it for real. That was definitely a pretty out-there experience. I also had to stand on the edge of a really tall building in New York and hold an American flag for an American Vogue editorial. I was at the edge of this really high building focusing on looking great and doing all these different things. I also had a shoot on skis in the mountains in basically almost nothing but I overcame that. I did a first shoot in the desert in heat. I've been in some crazy places and situations."
America's Next Top Model featuring Karolina Kurkova airs tomorrow night at 8/7c on The CW