Exclusive: Chris White talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/15/2010
Chris White became the tenth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model's fifteenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
Afterward, the 20-year-old from Arlington, TX talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including if she was surprised to be eliminated, what she thought about the other girls' comments about her, how she feels she compares to the other girls, and whether she plans to take Top Model star Tyra Banks' advice that she pursue acting.
Reality TV World: You were in the bottom two during last week's episode, so were you surprised you got eliminated this week or did you see it coming beforehand?
Chris White: I saw it coming. It was crazy because right before elimination all the girls were backstage and I was like, watch I'm the one going home, and they were like yup, yup, yup. Like you can just kind of tell who's going home so I already knew during last night's episode that it would be my time to go. I already knew.
Reality TV World: Last week you won best commercial and this week, the judges told you that you should get into acting classes or even start your own comedy show. How much of what they told you to do had you actually followed through with or plan to accomplish?
Chris White: I've done acting since I was 15. I was in agencies so it was right up my alley. That's what I really wanted to do. I plan on modeling, I would really like to do it, but first and foremost it's been my dream since I was a little girl so it's crazy how the week I get eliminated, they tell me that's something I should look into, and it's something I always wanted to look into.
So that is why I'm going to take it and I'm going to run with it, because I've already been doing that. But, as far as their other advice when it comes to modeling, they told me to do this and do that, I'ma always keep that in the back of my mind, because I enjoy modeling. But first and foremost it's going to be acting absolutely, and I'm gonna run with that.
Reality TV World: When you won best commercial was that was an indicator for you to recognize that commercial acting is definitely the way to go rather than modeling then?
Chris White: No, I mean like I said, I've been doing this since I was 15. I've been in plays, Broadway, I was signed to [The Campbell Agency] in downtown Dallas. We did commercials and small -- very, very, small -- stuff, but I mean I'm comfortable doing it you know?
So it wasn't the commercial on Top Model that got me interested in it -- I've always been interested in it. But when I found out we were doing a commercial, I already knew I was gonna get best one, because it's right up my alley.
So, it wasn't the commercial that opened up my eyes to it. I've already been dreaming about the day I could have the privilege of having my own sitcom if that's possible or being in movies, or doing anything that God has planned for me.
Reality TV World: Chelsey claimed you went on the show to get your face out there in the public eye and that you may not have wanted to win as much as the other models did. From what I'm hearing it seems like acting is your first priority, so do you think she had an inaccurate depiction of what your motives were on the show or do you think you may just not have wanted it as much?
Chris White: I mean, the girls are going to say what they want to say. And the only part where she was right was that I probably didn't want to win it just as bad as the other girls. I kept telling the other girls I'm here to learn, I'm here for the learning experience, and most of all I want to know.
I don't know anything about modeling. I know nothing about modeling. I wanted to learn how to walk; I wanted to learn how to pose. Who is better to teach you than Tyra Banks and the other judges? So that was why I was on the show and if I would have won in the process then yeah, that would have been great. But I came on the show to learn.
It has nothing to do with the exposure. The exposure was an added plus; I wanted to learn how to model. I wanted to learn acting and modeling, but with acting, it was first and foremost for me just because I want to do acting, doesn't mean I was wrong for wanting to do the show.
So, the other girls are going to say what they want to say and you know, I probably didn't want it as bad as Chelsey, Kayla, and Ann, but I did want to be there. And my reasons for being there, you know, that's my personal business.
If you don't like it, that's cool. They can still be happy because they're still on the show and I'm not. It didn't bother me at all. But to a certain extent, she was right, not fully because she didn't understand my reasons for wanting to be there in the first place.
Reality TV World: Do you agree with her and the judges that you might just be more commercial than high fashion?
Chris White: I'm still kind of "iffy" with that, I mean like I said, I really don't know too much about modeling, and like right now, commercials would be my upbeat because who's better to tell me than the judges.
They know what's needed in fashion and what they don't want. Probably as of right now, but if I bet if I worked for it and got the practice and learn, maybe one day I could be high fashion.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you hurt your foot during the "go-sees" and it seemed to really bother you during the photo shoot. How bad was it really and could you elaborate a little on how the incident occurred?
Chris White: Well it was me and Jane because we were tag-teaming for the "go-sees" and we were coming back to IMG headquarters -- I came down on my foot wrong and I don't know how I did -- just goofing off and playing around and being silly -- I guess I wasn't paying attention. So when I came down, I hit a rock and it bruised the bottom of my foot, because my foot was sore right where my arch is.
And my toes were tingling and I don't know, maybe I struck a nerve, but my foot hurt really bad. So I didn't want to walk on it. I didn't want to put any pressure on it. It wasn't at the point to where I needed to go to the hospital. It was that bad; I just needed to stay off it and focus for a little bit. Now, I was fine all the way up until the photo shoot because I didn't have to be on my feet.
I was allowed to stand so I could put all my pressure on one leg, and I was allowed to just stay off of it because we didn't do anything up until the photo shoot. I had to stand on these rocks. They had me standing in front of the mansion on white rocks, so I was putting all my pressure on one foot to keep it off of my hurt foot.
I mean, I'm still on rocks so it's causing pain on my foot that wasn't hurt, but I'm trying to balance on my foot that wasn't hurt enough to take the pain off my right foot -- but my foot was swollen at the time, so it was really really painful.
But that was the only reason -- because of where they had me standing. And I was thinking, why do you have me put perfectly on top of rocks knowing that this is how I hurt my foot in the first place. But that's why it was hurting really bad, because of the way they had me standing.
Reality TV World: You mentioned that you didn't want it to affect your photo shoot at all, so did you have a hard time actually pretending like there was nothing wrong when you were modeling?
Chris White: No ma'am. It wasn't hard, I didn't have to think about it, I mean it hurt, but it wasn't to the point where I was like, oh my god it's so bad, I want to sit here and cry. It wasn't to that extent. If it was that bad, somebody would of had to put me on a gurney and take me to the hospital ASAP.
But no ma'am it wasn't that bad. I just tried to focus on what I needed to do and the only hard part about it was that there was only so much I could do with my feet. That's gonna be all that it was, and I was trying to think, okay how am I gonna stand? How can I get down for a lot of photos and a lot of different poses? But other than that, no, it wasn't that hard to take my mind off it.
Reality TV World: Did it help at all when [Nigel Barker] told you to channel your pain into your facial expressions and your modeling?
Chris White: No. (laughs)
Because if I would have took that in my expressions, ya'll would have been like, ooh Chris looks like she's smelling a fart, because my face would have been all turned up wrong. Okay, if that helps at all. But I understood what it was he was saying. But for me, I don't know, maybe -- it was my time to go, it just wasn't my day.
Reality TV World: Nigel said towards the end of your photo shoot that he thought you were just "over it" and that you "signed out." Why do you think he got that impression and do you think he was justified in saying so?
Chris White: I don't know if he was necessarily justified. He had his reasons and I believe it was because of -- I remember he was saying to me I kept cutting in short when he would say do this and do that, okay okay -- but I wasn't trying to cut him short and come off almost like a smartass. And I'm thinking, that's kind of what he was thinking. It wasn't like that.
It was just since I was in pain, it was hot, and there were just a lot of things going on. I never complained; I just wanted to hurry up and take what it was he was saying, and get it done so we could leave and give him the photo he was looking for so we didn't have to be out there all day. You know what I mean? I'm just trying to take it all in so I can get it done.
So with that being said, I'm quick to be like okay, oh okay cool cool. I'm just responding quickly to let him know okay I'm getting it, just let me process and download it. To him, I think it kind of came off that I was interrupting, and I was coming off as a smartass like I was like, okay I know what I'm doing. You know what I mean? And I think that's the impression he got off of it.
So, if that's how he was receiving it, then yeah, it is justified, but because I wasn't trying to throw it at him that way, then no I don't think it should have been justified because I wasn't trying to do that. I think he took it the wrong way. But he's cool; I apologized for it. And now we're on good terms and that's all that matters.
Reality TV World: I know you said you had a lot of acting experience growing up, and you were the only model to ask a question at Versace. You were commended for it later, so did you have prior knowledge that that's a good thing to do or does it just come naturally for you to start conversations with people you meet?
Chris White: It's natural for me to spark a conversation and what better way to show that I'm interested? That's really what I was thinking like okay, let me show this man that I'm interested. How about this and how about that? And that's the power of it, if you wanna know something, ask.
So I was actually a little nervous about asking something because I didn't want him to be like, why are you talking to me? You know, I don't know what he was going to say about it, so I just took a chance and asked a simple question and that was that. It played out well -- I was happy for that.
Reality TV World: Were you excited to have Versace on the "go-see" list?
Chris White: Yes I was, but I was upset that Chelsey got a jacket and I didn't. (she laughs) I wanted that jacket so bad. I said you better keep an eye on that jacket because when I go home, I'm taking it with me.
Reality TV World: The Versace representative said that you look like a model from the 1980's. What do you think he meant by that critique?
Chris White: You know to be honest, I have no idea what he meant. I thought it was a complement; it's a retro look. To me, that's real metro and it's crazy how everyone says I'm commercial and then bam, he comes out and says I have a 1980's look -- that's real retro and that's real semi-symmetrical clothes, hair -- to me, that era was high fashion, to me through my eyes.
So everyone's saying I'm not high fashion, or any form of fashion, and then this man comes and says I have a 1980's look, which is a complement to me. And to me, that era was more high fashion.
So, I don't know, I took it as a complement but to this day I still don't know if he was saying that's a good thing, or he was saying that it's a bad thing. I still don't know.
Reality TV World: All of the models got lost trying to find the locations for the "go-sees." How frustrating was it for you to wonder the streets of Milan and not find your way? At one point it even seemed like you were pretty relaxed because you were like, let's grab ice cream on the way back! But what were you thinking throughout all of that?
Chris White: First, it felt like hours, I'll say that. The first couple hours, it was very frustrating because I was really just -- me and Jane -- we just really wanted to get there. If we couldn't make it on time, at least we could make it there or keep trying.
So we tried, but I didn't want to be upset with myself and I didn't wanna be upset with her, and we tried as hard as we could. And it's hot and nobody speaks to you and listen, you know we got all these obstacles in our way. So towards the end we were going back to IMG and I decided to just have a good time and not sulk and we could get back on time.
We got to Versace, but we don't know where all the other girls are going so hey, if we go the wrong way we'll stop by and get some ice cream, let's treat ourselves for getting this far. I was proud you know?
We got somewhere and we're making it on time back, we had some time to stop and get us some gelato. But that's what I thought. I just wanted to have a good time while I'm out there. So, that was all I was trying to get past.
Reality TV World: Tyra attempted to show you girls the best way to put your portfolios together. Did you find that helpful?
Chris White: Yes I did. Yes I did, because I didn't even know -- I'm just learning things -- I didn't even know there was a right way to put your portfolio together. I didn't even know. I just thought you took some pictures and you put them in there and you show them to people.
But there's a certain way to make it look appealing and to make you look better as a model. I didn't know that, and it was nice of Tyra, especially being the first time she's doing it in any cycle that she's had. It was a privilege to have her do that with us.
Reality TV World: The show portrayed you as the real fun loving girl with a real sense of humor. Did finding humor in things help to ease the stress of the show and relax your nerves during the photo shoots?
Chris White: [No] To be honest, that's just naturally how I am. When I'm at work, when I'm at home, or it's me and my boyfriend going on dates, it's just -- my family's a lot like me -- this is how we are naturally.
Reality TV World: Do you think Kayla having the best photo this week was the right decision on the judges' part? This is the second week in a row for her.
Chris White: Yeah, to be honest, I think Kayla should have been getting a lot of best photos. So, but the keep giving a lot of glory to Ann -- not to say that Ann doesn't deserve it -- but there are some pictures that I think some people do better than Ann.
Kayla and Ann to me are neck and neck. Ann needs to watch out because to me, Kayla is -- girl can take some photos. That girl can take some photos. She can blend into anything, and I think they made a wonderful decision to make her have best photo.
Reality TV World: You said on the show last week that you don't think you're the best model out of the group but that you have an extra "oomph" that the other girls don't carry. What do you mean by "oomph?" What advantages do you think you have over the other models?
Chris White: I know how to talk to people. I mean people, and I don't wanna sound like I just know everything, because that's not the fact, but from anybody that I've met, that we've all been on the show with, even makeup artists, hair stylists, and people that come to design our clothes -- it's like people are naturally drawn to me because I'm open.
I like to talk, I like to hold conversations, I'm not all in your face nor am I annoying, but people are just drawn to me. And you know, sometimes it's not what you know but who you know in certain aspects, and I believe that that's the "oomph" I have that some girls just don't have, that in this industry, you might need.
Reality TV World: During that same episode, you mentioned that you prepared yourself to go home to avoid the shock or disappointment if the judges did decide to send you home. So how did you prepare yourself?
Chris White: I just told myself I'm gonna be going home, just kept it real with myself that you might be going home tonight, instead of telling myself oh, I'm gonna stay, I'm gonna stay and somebody else is going home -- putting all these thoughts into my head and you know, turns around and bam, damn I'm going home.
I just brought myself to reality -- Chris you might not make it into the top four, and you have to be cool with that. Clearly, God did not have that in your plan, so I just told myself like it was, prayed a little bit about it, and that was it -- moved on.
Reality TV World: Your sister [Terra White] was one of the first girls eliminated from the competition, how did things change for you after she was gone? I'm sure you missed her, but do you think there were any pluses at all to her departure?
Chris White: Um, no. And a lot of people wondered that you know, because they think it was a competition between me and my sister. It's nothing like that.
Me and my sister were -- it was us two against everybody else really and truly -- we were just cracking jokes. And we would be like, you're gonna go home, and I'm gonna stay. That was nothing more than us just playing.
We were just playing like that with each other. We wanted more than anything for us two to be in the top two. And that had really set me back because I lost my safety net; I lost my strength. You know when these other girls were having problems, they had nobody else to run to.
They have to call home to talk to their family; I had mine sleeping in the bed next to me. You know what I mean? So if she had gotten eliminated, I feel like that had weakened me a little bit.
She had told me you I'd be upset if you go home the next episode, you need to go as far as you can so later on it had given me strength to go further and to be stronger for my sister.
So it kind of helped me. In a way, it was a plus, but not because it was a competition, but because she, I don't know, she just strengthened me. Her words had strengthened me.
Chris White: It was my first time, and it is crazy talking about it because I tried out four times. It was the fourth time this season that she was on. And she just kept saying, let's do it together, and I kept saying okay, I'm gonna put in all the paperwork and we'll just go together.
And then you know, if they won't take one of us, they may take both of us, thinking two is better than one! We went and auditioned and it just flew from there, and it felt like it did overnight.
Reality TV World: Are you happy with your overall performance on the show or would you have done things differently if you were afforded the chance to go back and start over?
Chris White: First of all if I had the chance to go back, I would not. No thank you. I'm very proud of the way I was portrayed, the way that I acted, the things that I said, because I was only being me the whole time.
I didn't pretend to be anybody else. I'm very happy with my performance, along with the pictures that I've taken and so on and so forth. I think God did a very good job.
Reality TV World: I see that you don't regret anything that you did, but why would you not want to go back? What about the show would stop you from doing it again?
Chris White: It's a reality show. (laughs)
The cameras and being away from my family, no, no thank you. I couldn't do it again.