Exclusive: Darian Ellis talks about 'Top Model: College Edition' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/12/2012
Darian Ellis, a 5' 9" 22-year-old student from Baton Rouge, LA attending Louisiana State University, was ousted from America's Next Top Model: College Edition after she found herself in the bottom two based upon her total combined scores from Top Model's three judges and home viewers' fan vote.
However, Darian will get to participate in most of the upcoming photo shoots against previously-eliminated contestant Jessie Rabideau and future-eliminated girls in attempt to gain the highest social media score and earn a spot back in the competition.
In an exclusive interview on Monday, Darian talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model: College Edition experience -- including when she started believing she had a good chance of getting eliminated, what news she was expecting to hear from Tyra Banks that she didn't, what her reaction was to Maria Tucker quitting, and why she had beef with Kiara Belen during her time on the show.
Below is the first half of Darian's interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be eliminated or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand?
Darian Ellis: I can honestly say, during the photo shoot, I didn't think I'd be going home. But once your up on panel and they have the judging, you know, the scoring, it's kind of like you know you're going to be in the bottom if you add or whatever.
So when we finally got to panel, that's when I had an idea that I might be in the bottom. But during the photo shoots, it was a little bit of a struggle. But I mean, who doesn't struggle in photo shoots sometimes? So, I didn't think I would be going home.
Reality TV World: Right before Tyra verified you had been eliminated from Top Model, she said, "You wish you could do it all over again, don't you?" Following that, she said, "Guess what?" And immediately you dropped to the floor ecstatic and yelled, "Tyra! Stop it!" What was going through your mind in that moment, because it seemed as if you thought you were going to be safe maybe because of Maria's decision to quit. So was that really the case?
Darian Ellis: That was exactly what I was thinking! I was thinking that during semifinals, they had so many girls that wanted to be there. And then when Maria decided she wants to leave, I was like, "Oh my God, is Tyra going to give me another chance to just go back in?"
Maybe I would have less frames than the other girls, I didn't know what. I just dropped to my knees. I was just trying not to think, because I was like, "Something's happening and I can't take it right now!" (Laughs)
Reality TV World: So then once Tyra revealed the new twist in which you were going to compete against Jessie and future-eliminated girls for a chance to come back into the competition, were you a little disappointed since that news wasn't the news you were expecting to hear or were you still relieved and thrilled to have that opportunity?
Darian Ellis: I was still relieved! I wasn't as relieved as if I was going back into the competition with the other girls, but a second chance to do all the photo shoots, I was still happy. I was like, "Okay, let's do this." (Laughs) It's not as good as being in the competition -- like in it -- with the other girls, but a second chance to come back and finish it out, I was definitely ready for that. I was relieved.
Reality TV World: Maria called Kelly Cutrone a c-nt backstage of the nude photo shoot...
Darian Ellis: You know, she's from Harvard. And honestly, Maria didn't seem that bad when I met her and everything. She didn't seem like -- I don't know. You came this far and you're going hard and you're going calling Kelly Cutrone a c-nt? And I think she's at Harvard studying some type of theology or divinity, or I don't know!
It was a shock. First of all, you don't call people c-nts anyway. And then you call Kelly Cutrone a c-nt? I don't know. I don't know what was going on with that. I couldn't believe it when I heard about it.
Reality TV World: Well that answers my question! I was going to ask you if you were as shocked when you heard about that incident as Destiny Strudwick seemed to be. So it kind of sounds like your perception of Maria changed from the first moment you met her. Is that right?
Darian Ellis: Right! Because she didn't want to get the makeover, and [it's] true they did give us the option, but this is Top Model. They're professionals. They know what it takes to make it in this industry.
So they told me that they wanted me to take out my braids and I was like, "Fine, let's do it!" You know what's going to work best for me. You're trying to help me further my career. Let's go for it. And she was just really standoffish about everything, so I don't know.
Reality TV World: When Johnny Wujek announced to the girls that Maria quit the competition, everyone seemed relieved and one girl even yelled out, "Good." What was your reaction to her quitting, what was going through your mind? Did you think she deserved to be in the competition to begin with?
Darian Ellis: I was thinking if she really wanted to go home then good -- not good like, "Good she's gone" -- but good like, "Do whatever is best for you." But I'm thinking about all those other girls who came to semifinals and would give anything to be in her position, and she just gave it up. I was just like, "I can't believe it." I was just shocked. I was like, "Okay, whatever. One less girl, I guess. Let's go!"
Reality TV World: You and Kiara seemed to have it out for each other. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with her, and why do you think she had a problem with you? Some viewers are surprised she was just aggravated with how loud you were being in the house, so was that all there was to it?
Darian Ellis: Yeah, I feel like during the previous week when her and Destiny had a little confrontation or whatever and I tried to step in and defend her by saying, "We're not talking about you in a negative way. She's just telling us what you just told her about the whole stripper comment."
And she came in and just completely was being negative and defensive, and I stepped in and I was like, "You know, we're not -- don't get so defensive. We're just discussing it, not in a negative way. You said it and we're just talking about it." And she kind of lashed out on me then, and from then on, I was kind of iffy with her.
And then to call me loud -- and you can ask all the other girls, we were laughing and talking. It wasn't just me running around the house until two in the morning yelling, you know?
She could've came to me like a woman and asked me to keep it down a little bit, and I would've done that. I would've apologized to her and it would've just been nothing. But to make it what it was, I completely think she did that. It didn't have to be all of that.
Reality TV World: If you hadn't been eliminated from the competition -- and based upon the fact viewers don't know whether you'll end up returning to the competition -- could you see yourself ever reconciling with Kiara or is that not really a possibility?
Darian Ellis: I could see us reconciling and talking about it like women, but anything other than that, no. I really don't like negative people at all, and I got along great with everybody else. I feel like, I don't know, she was a real bitch, as she said. She was. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: During your photo shoot, you said you could feel Kiara staring at you and smirking in the hopes of intimidating you. So judging your own performance that day, would you say she succeeded or did she not affect your modeling performance at all? Did she kind of put a damper on your confidence at all?
Darian Ellis: No, no, no. She didn't -- if anything, she was amusing during my photo shoot to be standing there staring and trying to intimidate me. The only person I was intimidated by was [photographer Tony Duran]. I was focused completely on Tony, you know, [Rob Evans] was there.
It wasn't so much her in me losing my confidence. I was completely focused on giving Tony the best shot that he wanted. It was kind of lost in translation. He was really intense, and I was just really focused on him and trying to do the best that I could. I actually wasn't even worried about her. I definitely knew she was there; It was amusing.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you about the photographer's comments. Tony kept asking you for strength rather than sexy. Did you have trouble channeling that advice and was it frustrating for you to hear him repeat that same critique over and over again?
Darian Ellis: It was. From what I was told about the photo shoot and looking at the other girls' photo shoots, they were all in sensual poses. You're telling them to go more soft and this and that, but when it comes to me, I don't know.
I guess I was lost in translation with the whole concept of the photo shoot. I didn't understand why he wanted me to give off this strong, strength vibe and everybody else was soft and sensual. So, I don't know. It was kind of confusing, I guess, that photo shoot was.
Above is the first half of Darian's interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.