Exclusive: Alisha White talks 'Top Model: British Invasion' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/15/2012
Alisha White, a 20-year-old from South London, England, and Eboni Davis became the tenth and eleventh girls ousted from America's Next Top Model: British Invasion during last Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
Top Model's judges eliminated Eboni for not producing great photos week to week, while Alisha chose to quit the show immediately following Tyra Banks' announcement that she had survived the bottom-two cut because she had "lost her spirit."
On Friday, Alisha talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model: British Invasion experience and the reasoning behind her decision to quit the show -- including whether her bottom-two finish came as a shock to her; at what point in the competition she was beginning to lose her spirit and why she felt like her emotions were "fake;" what made her feel like her photos didn't truly represent who she was; and what her major frustrations were with the show, the judges and the poor photos selected of her week to week.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Alisha. Check back with Reality TV World on Wednesday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you landed in the bottom two again this week? Because I know you said the week prior you didn't think you deserved to be in that spot and Sophie probably belonged to be there instead of you.
Alisha White: Yes, yes, definitely. I was really surprised to be in the bottom two because during the actual shoot, I got really good feedback from [Jay Manuel]. Jay was actually like, "You brought it back. You were great. Your picture is definitely going to be amazing."
But obviously, we can never know what the difference is, because sometimes Jay will give us great comments, and then we get to panel, it's a completely different situation. So I was really, really surprised.
I'm really scared of heights and I didn't want to do the shoot in the first place, but I still got the courage and the guts to go up and actually do the picture. I calmed myself completely down, started to pose, and started to do what I do, but obviously it wasn't good enough this time unfortunately.
Reality TV World: So landing in the bottom two again, do you think that's what broke your spirit and ultimately caused you to quit the show. I don't know whether you just felt defeated at that point, or did something else happen that viewers didn't get to see?
Alisha White: To be honest with you, I was kind of feeling low from previous weeks as well, but I just tried to bite the bullet and carry on in the competition and not be so disheartened. I tried to lift my spirit every week, but in the end, it became very fake. My emotions became very fake. I wasn't really happy. And that was basically from the photo shoot that we had with Estelle.
I just thought that these pictures weren't representing me as a model, and as someone that's modeled in the U.K., I didn't want to ruin my reputation by continuing in the competition still getting horrible pictures that don't represent me -- that I know I did much better than that during in shoot -- and the coming back to England and people thinking, "What the hell."
So I just thought, "You know, I'm not going to be selfish anymore. There's a lot of other girls here who want to be here -- that are happy to be there -- and I'm not happy with myself."
So it was just time for me to leave, and I think I did it at the right time, because I feel like if I had stayed another week, I would have been grumpy, I would have been miserable. I probably would've been a b-tch to someone and just lashed out on someone on public TV, so I'm glad I left with my grace and my dignity.
Reality TV World: So just to clarify, if you did not land in the bottom two, do you think you still would've quit or would you have tried to stick it out a little longer?
Alisha White: You know, I think if my pictures weren't as bad as what they had shown, I think it would've been a whole different ball game whatsoever. But you know what it was? It was, for me, it was that I was putting in 200% percent and I was literally putting in more effort than the rest of the girls were even [giving], and it was because I always felt like I was in the firing line.
I was always the girl that was in the bottom two. I was always the girl they weren't sure about. I was always the girl that didn't have the best pictures, and I just didn't understand why that was, because I was literally putting my last drop of sweat into everything -- into literally everything.
I was just totally confused. Maybe if my pictures weren't -- even if the next week comes and my pictures still were bad, I'd be thinking, "I should have left ages ago. I don't know why I'm still here."
I would have caught myself questioning myself as a model and my ability, because every week, I was wondering, "Why am I still here if the judges are saying my pictures are so bad?! I don't understand, and I'm doing 200% percent." But when I look at these pictures, it's like, I don't even remember doing half those poses much more! It was just nuts; It was crazy. It was crazy.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words that you were looking at all the pictures they took of you throughout the season and you just didn't see yourself in them, like you couldn't relate to the person that was in them. You've been elaborating on that a little bit, but do you think maybe you were trying to act like somebody else to impress the judges throughout the competition in that you did what they told you to do even if it didn't reflect who you really are? I guess I'm just trying to understand what you meant by that.
Alisha White: Of course. What it was, was that I felt like from every week on week on week, we always had these characters. If you remember the first week, I was Elton John. I personally didn't feel like that had anything to do with modeling. Mostly for me, it felt like dress-up. It didn't feel like a high fashion, or even a commercial, shoot.
I don't know where they would put that picture -- a girl dressed as Elton John. I didn't understand, and the next week, we were toddlers. I was thinking, "This is a bit like dress-up. It doesn't remind me of modeling." It didn't really remind me of modeling. It just reminded me of complete dress-up. Every week we were different characters. I didn't understand that.
On top of that, I didn't feel like I had to be someone else, because in the show, I believed that my personality -- Alisha -- they definitely saw Alisha's raw personality. I just feel like in pictures, I wasn't able to give my all, because every week, I'd come dressed up as a different character. I was never able to be Alisha except for when I was in the video -- the video shoot. That's the only time that I felt like myself.
And I understand in modeling you have to be versatile and you have to adapt, but come on, being Elton John? Come on, like that's not modeling! That's just -- I don't know what that is! (Laughs) I'm not sure! I'm not sure about that, but I felt like as well that I wasn't given enough guidance by the judges.
I feel like for all the other girls, they had expectations for the girls. You had Eboni who was "30-Never," and so in all her pictures, she had to be young. And then you had Sophie who had to be bright and bright-eyed. I was [all about the legs] and I can't put my leg in every picture!
I can't put my leg in a headshot. That's impossible, like I can't do that. So I mean, I just felt like my marketing and guidance wasn't there as much, and I was kind of like, yeah, I was trying to please the judges -- because that's what you have to do to enable yourself to stay in this competition.
But I feel like my personality, I stayed true to myself and that's why I decided to leave by the end, because that's what I would do in real life. If I can't do something or the passion's not there, I'd rather give someone else the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
Reality TV World: Based on everything you just discussed, do you think lacking passion or not feeling like yourself led to the photos you ended up with and disliked, or would you say the judges were simply too hard on you throughout the season? Do you think you did better than they gave you credit for?
Alisha White: Okay, I'm really disappointed in the fact that I didn't think America saw my supermodel ability. It's disappointing to me because I know that I did so well, and I think the judges were hard on me just for the reason being that they had high expectations for me because they had obviously seen me on Britain's Next Top Model and they had seen me obviously come in second.
They probably saw how hungry I was -- the same way I was in America. I don't know what it was, but I think with me, it was more of an issue where, "We want more. We want more. We want more," -- but "I'm giving you everything I've got! I don't know what more I can give." At the shoot, I'm not being lazy. I'm doing everything. I'm literally doing everything that I can and it's still not good enough.
So I just didn't understand what more could I have given? Even now, I'm still a little bit confused as to what they expected of me! I still don't really understand what [Tyra Banks] was teaching me or what my marketing was. I just didn't understand. I don't. I just didn't understand. I still don't understand.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Seymone a couple weeks ago, she said she was really the only person in the house who really wanted to win while mostly all the other girls said winning didn't matter to them because they had modeling agencies to return to when they got home. And when I talked to Catherine, she confirmed that the whole Top 5 didn't care about winning the show. So what's your response to that and would you say they're right? Did the fact you allegedly didn't care about winning play a role in your departure as well?
Alisha White: Okay, I did want to win. At the beginning, I was so eager! I would have taken every girl out. I would've eaten them alive if I had to, but when I saw my pictures -- what my pictures were -- I was like, "Hmm." Then we're told that Tyra's not picking the pictures this season. And I thought, "What?" I was just totally confused.
I was just like, "What's going on!?" Do you know what I mean? I wondered why my pictures were looking like crap! Because Top Model isn't actually picking them, someone else is picking them. And what is beautiful and model-like to another person, might not be beautiful and model-like to Tyra Banks. So that upset me.
And then when it got to Top 5, I thought -- Sorry, when we got back to Moscow, I thought, "You know what? I'm really going to try. I'm going to give everything I've got like I had in the beginning, but even more."
And it still wasn't good enough, and it just got to the point where I was like, "I don't want to win this. I don't want to do this. I don't want to be a model through a TV show. I'd rather just do it back in London and try my best and do what I do."
Because in London, I get paid to model. So, it's not like I know that I can't do it. I just don't understand why I was portrayed as almost not a competitor to the rest of the girls, because my pictures were so weak that I almost wasn't competition to anyone. It upset me; It really did upset me.
Reality TV World: You placed second on Britain's Next Top Model, so when you decided to compete on America's Next Top Model, did you anticipate making it that far again and possibly even winning this time around, or did you set the bar a little lower for yourself for any reason?
Alisha White: As soon as I got the phone call saying, "We want you to come to America. We want you to be on the show," the first thing I said to my mom is, "I'm going to win it. I'm going to win it. I'm going to go there to win it. I'm not going there to be second again, no way!" And my mom instantly was like, "Yeah do that!" Do you know what I mean?
My whole impression of the show was, "I'm going there to win it. I'm not going to cross the land and the waters and go there and not try my best." And that's exactly what I did. Obviously the results came out negative and I don't know why, because I was literally giving everything I had. I really did want to win the show, but unfortunately, it didn't come through.
Reality TV World: Many of the models seemed to have big issues this season with Kyle and Seymone. What were your thoughts on those two girls? Did you like them, dislike them and did you have a problem with any of them or no?
Alisha White: You know what? I like both of them, to be honest with you. I know that I had my little time where I made fun of Kyle's eyes, but that was literally because I was fascinated by it! I literally would walk around the house doing that. I used to ask her, "Why do you do your eyes like that?"
And she actually said, "My mom told me before I went on the show not to do scary eyes." I was just like, "I just don't know why you do it." She was like, "I do it, I do it all the time...." So I like both of the girls. I didn't have a problem with Kyle. The only thing with Kyle is during the show, with me and Kyle in the house, it was literally like, "Hi, bye, good morning, good afternoon."
And then I obviously had a little argument with Seymone, but that was literally out of fun. And she got really angry, but I just think it's because her parents are in the military. So she's naturally quite forceful and quite direct. I didn't feel upset about it at all. To me, it's all fun and games. I've got nothing personal against either one of the girls. I love them. I think they're both beautiful -- nothing against them at all.
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Alisha. Check back with Reality TV World on Wednesday for the concluding portion.