Exclusive: Allison Harvard talks 'America's Next Top Model' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/14/2011
Allison Harvard finished America's Next Top Model's first-ever all-stars edition as the runner-up, losing to champion Lisa D'Amato during last week's broadcast of The CW reality competition's seventeenth-season finale.
On Thursday, the 23-year-old who previously appeared on Top Model's twelfth season, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether she found beauty shots difficult despite her unique natural look and large eyes, what she felt got "completely blown out of proportion" through editing during the season, and why she believed she will never have a career in music despite how well she had done during the songwriting and music video challenges.
Below is the second half of our exclusive interview with Allison. Click here to read the first portion.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when the judges didn't really take a liking to your CoverGirl ad? They called it "vacant" and their criticism has surprised some viewers because it seemed like the judges had been completely taken with your eyes throughout the season and you were ultimately selling eyeshadow. Would you say you just struggle with beauty shots or something?
Allison Harvard: You know, I really don't know. I'll never be able to understand some of the criticisms on the show. I mean, I did the best that I could and sometimes when I thought I did really well on a shoot, my criticisms were really poor, and then when I thought I did bad, it was vice versa.
So it was just like -- it went with the weather, maybe. I don't -- it's hard for me to speak about what went through their mind. If they didn't like it, they didn't like it. I just did my best! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Some girls made comments throughout the season that all you had to do to succeed in photo shoots was look at the camera because your eyes were so captivating. It seemed like whether your eyes were open or closed, most of the time, the judges loved your work. Did you feel while modeling that your unique eyes just made it easy for you to look into the camera and get a great shot like the other girls had suggested, or would you argue that you still had to work really hard despite your different look?
Allison Harvard: Well, I mean, the word "work" is objective, because I do enjoy modeling and I tried to think of different shoots as, "What would I want this to look like if I was the one shooting it?" But I do put a lot of thought into how I, myself, look in the shoots.
I mean, my eyes are large and they aren't going anywhere -- they are on my face -- so they will be in every photograph I'm in, but I always put a lot of thought into things that I do and the quality of work, I guess. So, it's not like I am just completely blank. I'd like to think that it shows that I put some thought and effort into my performance during the shoots. I definitely enjoyed it and that's that!
Reality TV World: Could you talk a little bit about your eye sensitivity problem? How long have you struggled with that issue and do you think it's as much a detriment to your modeling career as the show had suggested? Do you think there is a way to take care of it?
Allison Harvard: I think it was completely blown out of proportion and it was overly sensationalized on the show. I have super sensitive eyes, I mean, make no mistake about it. I have super sensitive eyes and I can't stare directly into the sun, but I don't think you're supposed to do that anyways.
You know, I do have super sensitive eyes, but at the same time, it has never -- other than the salad bowl photo shoot and I guess maybe one part of the CoverGirl shoot, I have never had a problem with my eyes. I mean, sometimes I do when it's super bright outside, but it's not like a handicap where I need to have special contacts made for it.
Maybe if I were doing a shoot that was in Rio de Janeiro or something where it was constantly like that, (laughs) but it hasn't ever been a complete handicap to me. I do have sensitive eyes, so I figure out ways to work around it. I don't want it to be like a crippling thing, but I think it was blown out of proportion for whatever reason.
Reality TV World: There was a challenge you girls had with Miss J. Alexander in which you had to rank each other on who had the most potential in the competition to who had the least. You got ranked the lowest, while Laura Kirkpatrick got ranked the highest and it seemed to upset you a little bit. But then Lisa said in a confessional that you posed the biggest threat in the competition, so she basically ranked you the lowest as to not help your case. Looking back, what's your reaction to all that? Did her comment surprise you and were you really convinced at the time that you had the lowest potential?
Allison Harvard: I mean, that challenge was bad news from the get-go. You're asking for trouble with a challenge like that. It's no fun to be the one ranked with the lowest potential. Who really wants to be that person? But you know, it's just something that you have to kind of put out of your mind. It's not personal.
It is a competition and it is such a strange little bubble of a world we're living in and problems that exist on the show don't exist outside of it. So, me and Laura had a joke about it. We call each other "Bunny No. 1" and "Bunny No. 2," and she was the prettier bunny with the highest potential and I was like the stepsister that had zero potential (laughs) -- saddest story ever!
Reality TV World: That is a sad story! (Laughs) The final runway challenge looked very complicated and a bit chaotic. Could you talk a little bit about that and how difficult was it to get ready on time and walk well in the wind and all that?
Allison Harvard: Yeah. The wind was insane but it kind of made it look -- it definitely helped its case with all the curtains and flowy things. It made it look a little bit epic. The wind was fun. It was hard, but it was fun. It was like an obstacle course, the whole runway -- swimming -- it was crazy.
It definitely was as crazy as it looked and we were certainly rushed hardcore throughout this big area, wherever the runway show was. It was pretty intense, but I mean, it was fun.
Reality TV World: During the challenge when you girls had to write your own songs and then perform in music videos, you did not seem confident at all in your singing voice, but then you ended up winning the challenge. Lisa looked shocked you had won because the music thing was kind of her niche. So did you surprise yourself during that challenge and do you plan on pursuing any type of music career in the future?
Allison Harvard: (Laughs) If I do, it will be a surprise to even myself. I'm not a singer and I thought I was going to throw up all over myself whenever I found out we had to sing. I mean, I'm not trying to kid anyone. I don't -- I know some of the other girls sing and love to perform like that.
It was definitely not something I had ever thought about doing or wanted to do, and I was just like, "You've got to be joking right now, because this is the scariest thing I could have ever imagined myself being thrown into." But I love to write and I really like the words to my song and I really enjoyed shooting the music video, and I'm so happy with the way it ended up coming out.
Production put a lot of thought into each of our own little sets or at least I felt like they had me in mind whenever they picked the little swing and the garden and things like that. But it was cool because what people don't know is that we got to pick out what we wanted our makeup to look like and our hair to look like.
We had a few choices with wardrobe and got to essentially pick out what we wore. How all the girls looked, they kind of chose their physical appearance in terms of makeup, hair, and to some extent wardrobe. So, I thought that was really, really neat because then you feel confident and it's nice to feel comfortable. It was pretty neat.
Reality TV World: Lisa kept insisting she didn't think Angelea Preston had enough confidence to be crowned America's Next Top Model this season. She said she broke down too often and had to stay fierce during all times no matter the circumstances. What was your opinion on that? Did you agree with Lisa or disagree and why?
Allison Harvard: My opinion on that is that you shouldn't -- you shouldn't have to tell anyone who doesn't have enough confidence, you know? I don't feel like -- I don't think you should ever have to not necessarily put someone down, because I don't think those are her intentions, but I think Angelea is very capable. I think she's a very lovely person -- the same as Lisa.
But I don't -- it's just not in me to ever -- I couldn't imagine myself being like, "Oh, I don't think this person should win," and blah, blah, blah. Because I think you should speak for yourself whenever you're in a competition. That's just how I view regular day-to-day life for myself. You just shouldn't have to say anything negative about someone else.
Reality TV World: What was the most challenging aspect of the competition for you throughout the entire season and how do you think your strengths as a model served you in those situations?
Allison Harvard: The most challenging part of it was just keeping your sanity, I don't know. It's just such a weird living situation and it's hard to be away from home. We got very few phone calls. Phone calls were like currency in the house.
We got very few of them for like 10-15 minutes and when you got them, it was like you got to touch base with reality again and it kept you, "Ahh, okay. Everything's okay," you know? "I'm not in the twilight zone."
But that was challenging -- the dead time during filming was challenging -- because you're kind of left to your own devices to amuse yourself, which is great and fun and challenging, and you end up learning a lot about yourself. It was more the mental aspect about those little moments that were challenging.
Reality TV World: What did you think the most challenging photo shoot or challenge was in particular and why?
Allison Harvard: Well, the music video challenge was the most challenging initially and even until the very end, but I was very pleased with how that came out.
I really loved the Michael Jackson shoot because I really loved -- it was a shoot that I didn't think I would be able to adapt to well just because I hadn't ever done anything quite like it in terms of styling, but the creative director and stylist is such a goddess and she made me feel so comfortable.
She was so inspiring to just watch her work. So, that was really, really fantastic as well to be a part of.