Exclusive: Nicole Lucas talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/07/2011
Nicole Lucas became the third girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model's sixteenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Friday, the 20-year-old student from Orlando, FL talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether she was surprised to be eliminated, how she feels about Top Model star Tyra Banks' comments that she looks like a "teenager's auntie," and what she thought about fellow finalist Ondrei Edwards' decision to quit the competition.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you got eliminated or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand, especially since you got your photo ninth out of the 14 girls during the season premiere?
Nicole Lucas: Yeah, oh definitely. I knew I was going to get eliminated as soon as I got the same critique as the week prior to that week. I was so confused but I was at peace with it, because I know that everything happens for a reason.
Reality TV World: In your final words, you said you were disappointed in yourself because you were trying too hard and were attempting to look fierce when that's not your forte. Could you elaborate on what you meant by that and why do you think trying too hard would come across poorly in your photos and not make you look better?
Nicole Lucas: Right, well I don't know. I was extremely confused by the whole thing because I've been modeling since I was 15 and I never got that critique before and Tyra Banks told me -- I don't think you saw it on camera -- but she told me that I was trying to be fierce and that just doesn't work for my look.
So, I guess that's just where that comment came from after I was eliminated. But, to this day, I'm still confused of why they think I look older in pictures when I've never had that problem in my life before.
Reality TV World: Right, so then what was your reaction when Tyra told you that you had a baby-like or teenage face but then came across looking the teenager's auntie in your photos? Did you agree with her opinion or did you find her statement to be a little over the top?
Nicole Lucas: Well I mean, at first she said like a teenager's mom and I was just like -- I'm sure you saw my face -- I was so confused, because I recently modeled in Singapore and they liked the young look and I look at the pictures in my portfolio and I certainly don't see an old face and no one has ever told me that before. So, I'm not quite sure where that came from.
Reality TV World: Did it hurt your feelings at all to hear that Tyra was basically saying you look too old in your photos, especially considering what the modeling industry is like and the models like are looking for nowadays?
Nicole Lucas: I think I would have been offended more if they would have said I looked old in person. I think if I look old in person then I'd need plastic surgery to correct it, but seeing as they just said I looked old in pictures, I know it's not true and I'm used to being criticized in this industry because it's a tough world out there. So, it didn't really affect me too badly.
Reality TV World: If Tyra felt that's how you looked when you got photographed, what do you think she saw in you and your pictures that got you originally cast on the show? You must not have looked like the teenager's auntie in the photos you sent in when you applied.
Nicole Lucas: Right, well I mean, I don't. I don't understand where that comment came from, but she's seen my entire portfolio. She's seen my digitals -- I don't look like an old lady there -- like in the pictures on the show, I don't look like that in the pictures in my portfolio.
So, I don't know. Maybe it was the makeup, maybe it's the lighting, or maybe perhaps they didn't take the best picture of me. I'm still not sure.
Reality TV World: When Tyra told you girls that if Ondrei had the worst photo of the week you would all be safe, what was going through your mind and were you convinced that the odds of you going home were pretty much slim to none?
Nicole Lucas: I thought actually that I was going to be staying. We didn't see Ondrei's picture until Dalya and I were standing right there in front of Tyra, but when I saw her picture, I thought, 'Oh man, I'm staying.' Not that I thought her picture was bad, but I just, I don't know, I kind of had a feeling that I might be staying, but then again, the other part of me knew that I was leaving, but I was okay with it.
Reality TV World: Were you shocked that Ondrei quit and what was your opinion about her deciding to leave after making the commitment to be one of the finalists on America's Next Top Model? Monique said she probably shouldn't have tried to go on the show in the first place if she was dealing with such tragic losses.
Nicole Lucas: Well, I really think that honestly, Ondrei not necessarily came to terms with what happened to her brothers, but I think that she was more okay with it and decided that she needed to be on America's Next Top Model to make something of herself because her brothers weren't there to do that.
But I think that after the challenge that we had, I think that brought back all of the old feelings and really made her realize the magnitude of everything that's happened to her and I fully respect her decision. I think that she wasn't strong enough to continue in the competition and I'm glad that she quit and is hopefully trying to feel better about her situation.
Reality TV World: What was your own reaction to Ondrei's story when you heard it and do you think your reaction was similar to most of the other girls' feelings in the house?
Nicole Lucas: I was heartbroken when I heard her story, I mean, I don't know how anyone get's through that. My reaction certainly wasn't like Monique's. I think that she did deserve to be there, but I also think that she needs closure and she needs time to really -- I guess closure -- she needs to realize everything that's happened.
Reality TV World: What was the bee jewelry photo shoot like and were you scared to get stung or just simply being surrounded by so many bees while you would be opening your mouth and everything?
Nicole Lucas: It was crazy! I was really scared to shoot with the bees at first because I've never even been stung by a bee, so it's always kind of been a little fear of mine. But I went almost last of the girls, so I knew none of them were stung by a bee and so I went into it pretty calm, and just kind of thought of them like mosquitos -- like they didn't have the ability to sting me -- I don't know. It just helped.
Reality TV World: I got stung once; It wasn't fun!
Nicole Lucas: Oh gosh, it doesn't look fun! It would probably really hurt.
Reality TV World: Jay Manuel told you during the photo shoot that your eyes looked sleepy and he was sarcastically saying that you didn't seem awake. Why do you think your modeling came across like that to him and how you feel you performed?
Nicole Lucas: Well it's really funny what they show on TV, because after he told me that, his response to my photos were, 'Oh my gosh! Gorgeous! Beautiful!' And I'm disappointed they didn't show that, but I obviously was tired.
You guys didn't see it, but we only had 10 minutes to get ready for that shoot -- to wake up and leave -- and I was tired, so I guess that comment made sense. But then he told me to remember the challenge that we did the day before, or whatever day it was, and it was better. He said everything was gorgeous.
Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets about going on the show and were you happy with your overall experience or would you have done anything differently if you were afforded the chance to go back and do it all over again?
Nicole Lucas: I'm not sure if I would have done anything differently. I'm a little disappointed with the editing. I think it kind of portrayed me as a bad model when in fact, I've been modeling since I was 15.
I've never received those critiques before in my life, and I'm a perfectionist. I try to work on everything that I'm critiqued on, but I find it hard to fix something that I've never been told to fix before in the real modeling world.
Reality TV World: So it seems like you had quite a bit of modeling experience before going on the show. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?
Nicole Lucas: Sure. I had my first test shoot in Miami when I was 15 and then I did test shoots in New York, and then last year I went to Singapore for three months to model. I modeled with girls who are with IMG Models in New York and I worked almost every single day. So, it was an amazing experience.
Reality TV World: What went through your mind and how did you feel when you saw all the girls opening up during the "inner critic challenge?" Was that tough to watch and were there maybe one or two girls who really stood out to you that made a lot of progress and opened up and showed emotion?
Nicole Lucas: Right, I mean, they were all crying for each other. They didn't show everyone but we were all crying during the challenge and crying for the other girls. It's really hard to hear their stories. Of course there's Ondrei. I was just heartbroken over her story and I think also Molly, I think, did really well in the challenge.
Reality TV World: Do you agree that Hannah had the best photo of the week from the photo shoot and were you surprised that Dalya was alongside you in the bottom two?
Nicole Lucas: I thought that Hannah's photo was absolutely beautiful. I don't really think that crying in the real world of modeling would necessarily fly. I don't think that clients would like that. I really really loved Molly's photo.
I don't think that she should have been so far down in the callout order, and I don't know, I kind of expected Dalya to be in the bottom two with me only because her eyes were closed. I know that Tyra likes fierce eyes or eyes connecting with the camera and her eyes were closed, so she couldn't do that.
Reality TV World: What were your impressions of Alexandria and her potential in the competition? She said she wasn't there to make friends and she seemed to come off strong, especially when she was attempting to train Jaclyn with her runway walk.
Nicole Lucas: It's pretty obvious she wasn't there to make friends. No one really got along with her, and I don't enjoy talking badly about other people, but I will say that we didn't really agree on a lot of things.
She said that she had a lot of experience with New York Fashion Week and LA Fashion Week, but I've modeled in Singapore and I consider that an amazing experience, but you didn't see me going around telling girls how to walk when she didn't even have the best walk there.
Reality TV World: During the premiere episode, what was your reaction when you thought you didn't make the cut after Jay handed everyone their envelopes and your picture was not inside and then how did your reaction flip-flop when Tyra told you that it was all a trick?
Nicole Lucas: That whole experience was such an emotional rollercoaster. I was so exhausted after all of it, but at first when they said we didn't get into the house, I kind of expected it because I never thought that I would make it onto a reality TV show, seeing as I'm not dramatic at all.
So, I was ready to go home when Tyra was talking to us. I kind of came to terms with it all, and then when she let down the curtain, I just, I was dumbfounded. I had -- I didn't even know what to think at that point -- but I was really excited.
Reality TV World: There ended up being a lot of girls that went home who were the ones that thought they were remaining in the competition because of the envelope process. So do you think that process was worth the "life lesson" that a model needs to learn to face rejection, or do you think it shouldn't have been handled in a different way?
Nicole Lucas: I think that that was really mean to the other girls, but I think that maybe it was helpful for us. I've been through rejection in the modeling industry. Every model has. I think that it could have been done in a nicer way. I don't even know what happened to those other girls. They got into the house and then they didn't. I think it could have been handled in a different way, but it was interesting for TV.
Reality TV World: You've touched a lot on your modeling experience so far, so what other advantages did you think you had over some of the other models in the house?
Nicole Lucas: I just think that general experience helps you in the modeling world. Before my trip to Singapore, I studied the modeling industry. I knew everything about it, but there are just some things that experience teaches you that you can't get anywhere else.
Reality TV World: Do you think that anything put you at a disadvantage at all for any reason in comparison to the other girls?
Nicole Lucas: I don't think so. I didn't expect to get the critique that I did, that I looked old, and I don't really consider that a problem in my modeling right now. So, I don't think I went into the competition with any disadvantages.
Reality TV World: Do you intend to continue modeling now? I'm sure you do because of everything you have already talked about, but what are your plans for the near future? You also said you weren't going to stop modeling in your final words.
Nicole Lucas: Right, absolutely. I have to finish out the semester at the University of Central Florida and then I hope to get back into modeling. So, we'll see where that takes me. I'm not really sure where I'll go. I would love to go back to Singapore, as I worked so much there, but I'd also love to go to Miami or New York.
Reality TV World: How did you get cast onAmerica's Next Top Model? How did you end up on the show and was it your first time applying?
Nicole Lucas: Yeah, it was my first time applying. It's kind of crazy how it all happened. I got an email from The Tyra Show and it said that that day was the last day to apply on her website for America's Next Top ModelCycle 16, and I went on and it said that she extended the deadline and it was about, I'd say, two months -- not even two months -- before filming started.
And it was an hour before it closed, so I thought, 'What the hell?! I'll just submit pictures. No one's ever going to call me.' And then I got an email the next day from the casting director's assistant asking me to come to an audition. I couldn't make an audition, and so I ended up doing an iChat interview and I was invited to the semifinals from there.
Reality TV World: Great. Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience that maybe I didn't ask you or we didn't touch on?
Nicole Lucas: I don't think so. I think you covered it all!