Claire Unabia was "definitely concerned" about 'Top Model' booting
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/04/2008
Claire Unabia was lucky enough to escape elimination during America's Next Top Model's previous tenth-season judging panel, but was worried that unless she put her best foot forward at the impending challenge and photo shoot, she'd be the next one booted.
"I was definitely concerned being that I was in the bottom two the previous week," she told Reality TV World during a Thursday conference call. "Seeing how I didn't win the challenge, I really felt that if my picture was not one of the top three or something -- if my picture wasn't one of the best pictures, than I was going to be totally susceptible to going home."
The 24-year-old production coordinator from New York, NY was correct, as she became the sixth contestant eliminated from Top Model's tenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW reality series.
At the judging panel that saw her ouster, Top Model creator and lead judge Tyra banks criticized Unabia for her recent photos being " one note" while they're instead looking "for someone that is diverse and can be a chameleon."
"I disagree a little bit," Unabia told Reality TV World about Banks' comments. "I think I did show various faces and that I do have a chameleon type of look. But I think they were feeling one note from me because their emotional response from the pictures wasn't changing... They were seeing kind of the same Claire inside the picture even though my face was different. So I think that's where the really wanted me to reach beyond."
Unabia's Wednesday night photo shoot -- which was based on the Broadway show Fuerzabruta -- got off to a rough start when she did a face plant onto a Mylar surface.
"The Fuerzabruta dancers, they taught us how to fall into the water onto the plastic, and the idea of the shoot was to fall into the water and then take a picture," she explained. "So I started off my shoot that way, but where I fell, the plastic was really tight and there wasn't that much water there. I kind of hit my chin against the plastic and it's like a boxer punching you in the chin. It was just a bad spot to hit."
Unabia said the impact of her fall "dazed her" and also might have mentally handicapped her once she collected herself.
"It made me just really scared and sad that it was a bad omen for the photo shoot," she explained to reporters. "But I was fine physically. Emotionally and mentally it kind of wrecked me a little bit."
Making Unabia's ouster even more difficult to deal with was the fact that she started the competition off so strong -- wining two of the first few challenges and receiving numerous compliments from the judging panel.
"It's a lot more difficult to keep on improving when they already have high standards of you," she explained. "I think they judge more on being able to improve week-to-week rather than just your basic skills or beauty or what have you. So that was definitely difficult."
Unabia also opined that she might have gotten too wrapped up in what the judges were looking for as the competition went on.
"I would just switch my mentality towards the end, where going into the photo shoots I started to think a lot about, 'What would the judges want me to do? What kind of pictures do they want me to do? How do they want me to pose?' " she said. "It's thinking so much about the judges -- rather than just in the moment and being a good model and just doing your photo shoot to the best of your ability -- is what I think really kind of got me."
Unabia said she decided to get involved with Top Model's tenth season since she's "always been a fan of the show."
"I've always loved modeling," she said. "I kind of stopped doing it, and after having my baby, I was really urged to do it by my husband. He said, 'If you really want to do it, just go for it.' I decided I can't be afraid of my goals and dreams -- no matter if other people think they're silly."
Unabia said her daughter Halina was "just under" 1-year-old while her mom was participating in the show.
"So she didn't understand where I was," explained Unabia, whose daughter is now 16-months-old. "But she has been able to watch the show with us now and she recognizes me on there. She actually has some modeling experience herself, so I think she kind of does register that I am modeling... Sometimes she kind of does these little poses in-front of the TV. It's the cutest thing because she's so little."
Unabia and Halina most recently appeared together in Glamour magazine's December issue.
"That's definitely the most rewarding type of modeling to do -- modeling with my baby!" she gushed.
However Unabia said missing Halina definitely began to take its toll the further she went in the competition.
"I definitely think it started to affect my performance towards the end," she said. "Just the negativity of the house and that I let Dominique get to me with her alarm clock and just the stress of being away from my baby... It started to get me kind of depressed, and it's just hard to be yourself and put yourself all out there. This competition is really about what you're going to be able to offer when you're not up to your best."
As for her alarm clock tiff with Dominique, a 23-year-old receptionist from Columbus, OH, Unabia said it's water under the bridge.
"I definitely don't have any ill feelings towards Dominique anymore," she said. "I only had an issue with her setting her alarm clock and ignoring my requests to please set it to the appropriate time. Dominique is who she is -- she's a very interesting and maybe odd person. But I'm not going to blame here for that."
In addition, Unabia was also criticized from her fellow contestants for the way she reacted during the judging panel that saw Aimee Wright's elimination.
"In the moment, I was so focused on Tyra and continuing on in the competition -- Aimee was kind of the last thing in the world I was thinking of," explained Unabia. "I was so grateful to be continuing on in the competition -- I'm so passionate for the competition -- that in that moment I regretfully forgot about Aimee... I felt really badly. I don't think that she took it badly, so I don't think it was in as poor taste as it kind of looked."
Prior to Halina's birth, Unabia said she worked as a production coordinator at a film and music studio. She recently starred in a "short psychological zombie film" that she also wrote and directed and is currently in the process of editing.
"It should be done shortly," she said. "I am going to continue modeling, and I'm working on short films and TV show ideas -- just all sorts of stuff media related."