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Exclusive: Erin Wagner talks about 'America's Next Top Model'


By Christopher Rocchio, 11/12/2009 

Erin Wagner feels she met the criteria Tyra Banks set for her but was still eliminated from America's Next Top Model.

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The 18-year-old 5'6" student from Kenosha, WI who currently resides in Spring Grove, IL was ousted from America's Next Top Model along with Jennifer An during last night's penultimate thirteenth-season broadcast of The CW reality series.

On Thursday, Erin talked to Reality TV World about why she feels she should have been one of the Top 2 finalists; how landing in the bottom two for three consecutive judging panels played games with her mind; why she thinks the show didn't portray her accurately; and how both of the two remaining finalists are deserving of the title.


Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be eliminated during last night's panel? Did you think you had done enough during the photo shoot to make the Top 2?

Erin: I think that I should have made it to the finals because I did meet the criteria that was set up for me the week before. [The judging panel] saved me from the bottom two so many times in a row, and Tyra told me, "If you do well next week it will be good." I was like, "Oh, cool."

I did well with the photo shoot. I'm really proud of my photo. I love it. It's one of my favorite photos that I took the entire competition and I think if it had been done regularly -- like the Top 4 to the Top 3 and then the Top 3 is in the finale -- I think I would have made it. But I think because it was Top 4 to Top 2, [Laura Kirkpatrick] deserved to make it over me because I hadn't been as consistent as I could have been.

Reality TV World: Was it ever explained to you why they went from four finalists to two?

Erin: No, I'm not quite sure why they did it. Maybe it was just for dramatics, but I was really surprised when they told us at the photo shoot -- especially because why would you tell us at the photo shoot? That's going to scare the crap out of us and then we'll be all nervous during our photo shoot. Why would you do that to us? (laughing)

Reality TV World: That's a good point, but it really didn't seem to impact you too much. Like you said, you're proud of your photo -- so do you think it mentally hurt you at all?

Erin: I don't think I allowed myself to think about the fact that two of us were going to go home. I was just trying to get back into the groove that I had been in at the beginning of the season.

In all honesty, I didn't really put that much effort in at the beginning because I was so laid back and I was like, "This is so much fun!" Then I started letting myself get in my own way. Around the time of the CoverGirl commercial I just started tanking. So I was trying to be just easy and laid back [during last night's shoot]. I think that's why I did so well at that shoot in comparison to the two shoots before that. I was so much less tense.

Reality TV World: During the panel's deliberation in last night's episode, we saw Nigel Barker call you "disingenuous." What's your reaction to that?

Erin: I did not agree with Nigel. I don't know what his problem is with me. What he said was disingenuous was when I got a critique I made a face -- like a surprised face or a concerned face or something -- then I went back to smiling. I think that's more genuine than if I was to sit there and smile and grit my teeth while they criticized me. I think it shows more of my personality that I was like, "Oh no!" and then I smiled again. I don't get what his issue was with it.

Reality TV World:  After you were eliminated, you commented that you could have "put a lot more vigor into the last few things." What did you mean by that?

Erin: Umm... I think by vigor I just meant like spunk and heart. I got a little too analytical during the biracial photo shoot and the underwater photo shoot. I got to the point where it wasn't as fun as it had been at the beginning of the competition. So in my last photo shoot I was like, "Even if I don't make it -- which there's a large possibility because I have been in the bottom two so many times -- I'm going to have fun. I'm going to leave, and I'm going to go out on a good note," which I think I did. So I'm happy.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised that despite being in the bottom two for three straight panels that the judges kept deciding to save you? What do you think was their reasoning behind that?

Erin: I was really surprised that I kept surviving the bottom two. When I was in the bottom two for the CoverGirl commercial I was like, "Oh crap, I'm going home." I even spent my time during deliberations writing out this whole note to [Ashley "Rae" Weisz] about how I was so sad that I was leaving and that I was going to miss her -- because we were pretty close. Then she went home, I was like, "What?!"

Then I stayed over [Brittany Markert], who had been doing well during the competition too. I was like, "What?!" I just started getting so surprised, but then I started to expect it -- so during [the panel where Sundai Love was eliminated] I was like, "Well maybe I'll go home, but they've been saving me a lot, so I'm not sure."

I think it's because they saw potential in me and they knew based off of my photos during the start of the competition that I could do better than I was doing. I think they just had enough faith in me to know that I wasn't performing as well as I could be. They wanted to give me another chance.

Reality TV World: A few of the other girls we've talked to characterized you as immature. What's your reaction to that? Was it something you thought might cause you problems before you entered the competition?

Erin: I knew going into the competition that I wasn't going to be probably on the same maturity level as some of the girls just because I was still in high school -- I was the only one still in high school. I was at the point in my life where I was still living at home, I had never been away for that long, I was about to enter the real world with college and all that jazz. So going into the house with all the girls, a lot of them were really understanding -- Rae and Jen were helpful and they understood that I wasn't in the same place in my life as everybody else.

I don't think I was immature. I think all of us being together for a long time, we got on each other's nerves -- which is understandable. But I don't agree with how I was portrayed on the show. I'm not a bitch. I'm not a bratty, annoying person all the time. It just happens, sometimes I'm going to get like that. It's unfortunate that I was portrayed that way.

Reality TV World: That was going to be one of my next questions -- if you feel you were portrayed accurately. So you don't think you were portrayed accurately.

Erin: No. I think it was just one small, minute part of my personality that was shown on TV. And the other fun, happy, cool, chill part wasn't shown. That sucks, because I don't want the world to think that I'm this ungrateful little snot, because I'm not. (laughing)

Reality TV World: You mentioned how you were still in high school, but how were you cast for America's Next Top Model?  I'm assuming it must have been your first time applying.

Erin: I had never really even thought about trying out for America's Next Top Model. I had watched it, but I was like, "Oh hey, I'm 5'6". What's up?" I knew that I wouldn't be able to. So my mom actually found out that they were casting for 5'7" and under.

I went during a Wednesday of my Spring Break. I was like, "Alright." I tried out and it was pretty quick -- it all went pretty quick. It was just over two days in Chicago, and then within a week or so I was called to go to L.A.. I was like, "Oh wow!" Because I really hadn't tried that hard at the auditions, I was like, "Oh this is fun. It's a nice way to waste a Wednesday. I know I'm not going to make it." Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would end up on TV. So I just went with it.

I left school -- I graduated late because when I got back I had to do all my work. So I left my senior year of high school to do the show. I think it was a worthwhile experience.

Reality TV World: Between Laura and Nicole Fox, who do you think is more deserving of winning America's Next Top Model and why?

Erin: I know from talking to them that they both really, really want it. They're so driven to win, and both of them could bring something so different to winning. Laura's personality and just her whole self are perfect for CoverGirl and perfect for Seventeen and so good for little girls to look up to and to aspire to be. But Nicole has proven time and time again that she can do anything that she sets her mind to. She did great at her commercial when a lot of people thought she wouldn't be able to, and she takes just beautiful photos -- the only photos during the whole competition that I was ever jealous of were Nicole's because she just knows what she's doing. I think either of them would be a worthy winner because they've shown that they have enough will power to accomplish it.

Reality TV World: What's next for you? Are you going to pursue a career in modeling?

Erin: I do plan to pursue modeling -- maybe not as a full-time job, but just to do it. I've realized how much fun it is and how much I enjoy it. I plan on getting some test shots soon and I live pretty close to Chicago so hopefully an agency will pick me up and I'll be able to do stuff. I think I'd really enjoy it. 

(Photo credit The CW)


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