Exclusive: Esther Petrack talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/02/2010
Esther Petrack became the eighth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model's fifteenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Thursday, the 18-year-old student from Boston, MA talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether she was surprised to see her Top Model run end so soon, what she thought about the roller skating shoot that led to her ouster, if she would change anything, and what she plans to do next.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you got cut or did you sense that it was coming?
Esther Petrack: I did not think I would get cut after the commercial shoot -- after panel, I knew I'd cut. During while they're deliberating, I was in the waiting room with all the girls, and I was kind of scared, like I knew I was going home. It's okay -- I've had a great run. I've done things I never thought I would do. So I'm just going to go out with my head held high... like have a happy exit where things are okay, like I'm happy with that ending.
Because we were for sure I was going home, I knew I was going home -- like okay... we knew I was eliminated.
Reality TV World: So being in the bottom two last week, that didn't give you any idea that you might be in trouble this week?
Esther Petrack: No, I definitely thought I was in trouble this week. I didn't think that I would be the eliminated girl after the commercial shoot. Like, I knew being in the bottom two, things weren't looking so hot.
But I didn't really think that I would be in the bottom two because of it. I didn't think I'd be going home this week. And I know that if often happens that if you're in the bottom two one week, you go home the next...
Reality TV World: Before you found out the fashion show was a fake setup, were you intimidated to walk the runway with the professional models or did you feel confident next to them?
Esther Petrack: I had an idea beforehand because they basically told us -- They were like you're going to be working with models and they may not be the nicest people ever. So I was like huh, I wonder what they were referring to there.
So I knew it was a setup already... I was intimidated but I was excited. I was really really excited.
Reality TV World: Okay so you said you knew it was a setup, but one model actually attempted to psych-out Ann telling her not to "screw up" because there were a lot of people watching and that her look wasn't exactly Zac Posen's type. Did any of the models say anything to you personally that may not have made it on the air?
Esther Petrack: Yeah, one of them actually made a comment about my chest, but you didn't see that. One of them looked at me with such a straight face and was like "I hope you break your leg." No, no it was like, "I hope you fall flat on your face." I was just like, what? And I was like okay.
I told her I was like, I'm just going to assume you mean like breaking your leg in theater so I hope you don't fall flat on your face and have a nice walk. She just looks at me stone cold -- and I was like okay ice queen. I was like that was a bit extreme.
Reality TV World: Jay Manuel said after you shot the commercial that you know you weren't really energized and you seemed a little flat, and Nigel mentioned during the critiques that you were just not very memorable, so what was your reaction to these comments? Why do you think they got this impression of you?
Esther Petrack: I think that what I was really worried about the commercial was being able to say my lines. I wanted... to make sure that like I was going to have a commercial that could actually be used in a professional setting.
That's a talent -- because it's really hard to keep your lines straight and not fall and look good and say this and do that. It was a lot to handle during the commercial shoot -- because you're on skates and the ground was really pebbly and they want you to skate backwards when you can barely skate forwards.
You like basically had to look good and remember your lines and make sure that you're also selling the product and keeping it in view and making sure that you don't get too close to the camera.
All these things -- I think I was concentrated so much on saying my lines that, there wasn't -- like there were any moments in the commercial where I was like oh my God, that was so bad! There were no moments shown when they were like wow, beautiful!
Reality TV World: Obviously a lot of girls ended up struggling on the skates -- you weren't the only one. Did anyone or even just yourself end up with any injuries at all?
Esther Petrack: I don't really remember if anyone ended up with injuries. I think Ann fell.
I'm from the northeast, like I'm from the New England area so I know how to ice skate. I know how to fall. So since I know how to fall I guess I can avoid injuries. But I don't really think so.
Reality TV World: The challenge seemed to be the type of challenge where in the real world the models would actually only get casted if they knew how to skate, so do you think it was a legitimate challenge given that it seemed pretty impossible to do well if you didn't already know how to skate?
Esther Petrack: I didn't even think of that. There's so much else going on in the episode, and I was eliminated, so I didn't even think of that. That's a very clever point... Yeah, props to you.
I've been hearing like three or four hours of interviews already like a half hour ago so like, your questions are like huh! Didn't think of that! I guess you wouldn't be able to be casted if you didn't know how to skate. So, I guess so. I'm just part of a talent show, right?
Reality TV World: Do you feel that you were as outgoing as you could've been on the show to give the judges a more accurate portrayal of who you really are, or do you think you still maybe needed some time to break out of your shell a little bit and show more personality?
Esther Petrack: I did think I needed a little more time to break out my shell. Normally, it's weird because I'm always the person, like you know when you're with your group of friends and you're awkwardly standing there and someone goes over to you and is like "Hi! Good morning! What's your name? What's your favorite color? Mine is blue. I'm always that person.
Reality TV World: The show portrayed you as the only Jewish girl in the house and having to deal...
Esther Petrack: Even I wanted to fall sleep when I was talking. Even I said, "Geez, get off camera." I don't know but on the show I think there were more instances than that, but the moments they showed on the show, I just looked so boring.
Reality TV World: The show showed how being the only Jewish girl in the house and having to deal with your own kosher food seemed to make things more difficult for you. Do you think that ended up playing any role in why you weren't as outgoing or maybe as memorable as the judges wanted?
Esther Petrack: The whole kosher food thing is kind of like, I mean from Day 1, you know, the whole Jewish thing did separate me a bit because there's someone like Chris who would cook a dinner for everyone and I'd be on the side eating my little scrambled eggs, you know what I mean? So I think it's um bigger than that.
I mean like at home there are all these Jewish people who would be watching me, and there would be all these people who I grew up with, people that I know, people who I was a student of, or friends of years and years, they'd be watching it and almost judging it seeing how like how I fare -- Jewish wise and model wise... that kind of psyched me out and I was like, oh my God, I hope I don't do anything [upsets or offends them].
Because I feel like that was a really dumb thing to say. There were a lot of people that were angry because I was on the show. So like, I hope I don't make them upset and screw myself over or I screw myself over and they're still upset.
So that was a really bad move I think. I had a little bit of trouble letting go of home and letting go of, what would people think when they see this? What would my grandma think when she sees this? What would my second grade teacher think when she sees this?
Like all these [are] things some of the girls in the house didn't have to deal with. You know what I mean? Like what will my Rabbi think when he sees this?
Reality TV World: Actually going back to the commercial now, when Jay Manuel told you girls that there was going to be a kissing portion to it, what actually went through your mind and were you comfortable with it?
Esther Petrack: I was so not excited. I don't think any girls in the house were excited about the kissing portion because every girl either just did not want to kiss a guy on screen or -- I just didn't want to kiss a guy on national TV. I really didn't, like I come from a religious background and I don't kiss guys on national TV.
There's no problem with kissing on national TV, I just don't want to be the one doing it... I think every girl like has a serious boyfriend or um, girlfriends, or they might have a serious committed relationship at home or because they just didn't want to do it on national TV. I think it's um, yeah I was not excited.
Reality TV World: Last week Tyra Banks and the judges asked you to arrive at this week's critique with your hair slicked back into a ponytail to show a more versatile look, do you think it really made a difference in your appearance as a high fashion model?
Esther Petrack: With my hair pulled back, you can see my face much much more. I remember during casting week they would always say the same things to Sara. During casting week they'd be like, Sara, you're beautiful -- put your hair back. Leave your hair in a ponytail.
And if she leaves it down she has gorgeous long blonde hair, but they'd be like, I can see your bone structure when it's pulled back, I can see your face, I can see so much of you that I can't see when it's down. Like it's beautiful down, but I just cannot see you as much.
Um, and so please put your hair back. And then you put your hair back and they'd be like oh, that's much much better! So when I pulled my hair back they were like wow, that is much much better.
Reality TV World: What do you think about Chris having the best commercial this week? Do you think the judges made the right decision?
Esther Petrack: Chris had the best commercial. Let's be honest, a lot of the commercials were not so great. Chris had a commercial I could see on TV. She looks good -- she can skate backwards -- how can you say your lines while skating backwards?
Reality TV World: I definitely can't, but that's another story.
Esther Petrack: Right?! Obviously neither can I. You can see that in my commercial.
Reality TV World: When I spoke with Kendal last week she said she considered Kayla to be her biggest competition on the show, which came as a little bit of a surprise because Kayla hasn't won any of the weeks' challenges or anything, but who do you consider your biggest competition? Was it someone obviously like Ann who won five straight weeks in a row, or do you think it was someone else?
Esther Petrack: I considered everyone equal competition. I mean we all knew that when I was in the bottom two with Ann, I was going home.
We said that before; we remember having that conversation in the kitchen, because I knew I'd be in the bottom two and I knew I'd go home. So earlier I had a conversation with Ann in the kitchen about how, you know if you're in the bottom two Ann, you're not going home. You know that right? You're safe if you're in the bottom two.
She's like, I know I'm safe if I'm in the bottom two once, but if it keeps on happening again, like I'm suddenly plummeting while all you guys are improving then I know I have a one get-out-of-jail free card, but not a thousand.
So I think everyone in a sense was my competition, but I didn't want to do it for the winning. I mean clearly the win, the prizes are incredible, but I really didn't enter Top Model thinking about the prizes. So I went on Top Model to get as much experience as I possibly could.
I experienced a lot. I experienced a really great amount of things that I never thought I would. I had a photo shoot with Patrick Demarchelier. I consider everyone my biggest competition because I thought the spot taken was a spot another girl could be in. I also just wanted to stay week to week.
I didn't care about best picture -- I mean I did -- but my concern wasn't best picture, my concern wasn't who gets their paper hanging up in the kitchen...my concern was am I going to be here next week? Am I going to be here or am I going to be thinking about you know, what photo shoot they're at.
Reality TV World: You mentioned that you went on the show not necessarily for the prized but to really learn how to model, so did you have any modeling experience before the show?
Esther Petrack: Zero prior experience -- actually that's a lie -- I'll tell you my prior experience. When I tried out for the show, cycle 15, it was a closed audition. So I was like huh, okay, closed auditions.
In that case, that means you needed to send an email with all your information and then in the email send a couple pictures of yourself with your name, weight, height -- all these different things. If their casting a person, it would say you're either invited to an interview or they are invited to something for a casting interview in New York this Friday, can you make it?
So I had my modeling experience because I had to take pictures for this, so my friends helped me and we used my friend's camera, and we took pictures, and what else did we do? We just like took clothes from my closet and that was my modeling experience, that was like my Top Model time... I know that doesn't count as actual experience, but that was the experience that I had.
Reality TV World: Do you plan to continue modeling at this point and actually make a career out of it?
Esther Petrack: Yes. I want to continue. I want to see where I can go; I want to see what I can do. I'm interested in it. I think it's pointless to do the show if you because you do so much on the show. It's so stressful, it's hard -- it takes so much out of you. It would be crazy to consider doing the show unless you have like, an outstanding reason for it.
Reality TV World: Have you actually taken Tyra Bank's advice to continue practice modeling, speaking in public and looking at yourself in front of the mirror, or is that something you plan to do?
Esther Petrack: Yes, I haven't actually had any photo shoots since I did the show. It's hard here because if I have no contacts then -- I really have no contacts here whatsoever. So, it's a bit hard.
I'm definitely interested in [practicing] as much as I possibly can, and improving myself in every way. It's about self improvement and it's not about winning -- The whole show is not about winning.
It's about improving; it's about going strong. It's about every week learning more about yourself, about your life, with what you want to do and how you want to be.
Reality TV World: I think everyone could definitely tell you were improving week to week...
Esther Petrack: Yeah, I know, right!
Reality TV World: Yes, and the judges even told you that you are edgy, interesting, beautiful and commercial, so what else do you find to be your strengths and advantages that you had over the other models?
Esther Petrack: I think one thing that I had over a lot of the other girls was, [not Ann], but Ann and I come from academic backgrounds, and I knew that going into this it would be watch and learn.
I knew going into this basically like, looking at how other girls do things, looking at how the whole experience happened, looking at like, say at the critique, I have to listen to that critique -- can I apply it to myself? Does that critique -- could I possibly learn anything from that?
Even though it's not a critique to me, and it may not even necessarily apply, I'll learn something from it. Like if I hear Kayla's and what Kayla needs to work on.
So, I really thought that going in I like I might be ahead of the other girls because I am big into watching and learning -- seeing how things happen -- really taking in every little thing and noticing things -- looking around and seeing where there is always place to improve, not just like sitting down and always being like, how can I make things better? Like, look for people's advice and soak everything in.
Reality TV World: You mentioned that you had some really amazing experiences on the show like some of the photographers you shot with, and you worked with Zac Posen this last week. Some of the girls seemed thrilled when they realized that they would be modeling his collection and could possibly win five of his ensembles. How did you feel about the designer and his line?
Esther Petrack: I was so excited. I was so, so, so excited. You have no idea. Like, even -- I didn't win, but I got to walk in Zac Posen's room and so I got to wear some of Zac Posen's stuff and they looked really good on me!
I was really really excited to see how like Zac Posen put his [material] together, how it all kind of assembles itself. And I got to talk to him, and some of the stuff he does is really, really, really nice. He's an artist so like Zac Posen is a known designer.
Zac Posen is 29 -- he is so accomplished -- he is ridiculously accomplished. At 29 to have real fashion minds, like to have real a career working in that, is incredible! But so, I was so, so, so excited... I was ready for battle.
Reality TV World: So you said that you didn't go on America's Next Top Model for the prizes specifically but obviously the new prize is that the winner gets to be on Vogue Italia, so do you think that's going to make a difference in how much success the Top Model winner actually will have, or are you kind of skeptical about that prize?
Esther Petrack:Italian Vogue is a massive deal. I think if the winner could pull off the cover of Beauty and Vogue and pull off 12 editorial pictures in Vogue -- The winner will do a lot because the winner has amazing photographers. I think the win could potentially just make her career.
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?
Esther Petrack: If I could go back and start over, I would let go more of myself. I would be more open, I would have more self-motivation. You know what I mean? Like, I would really not have had any moments of shyness or second guessing.
If I could go over it again, I think I would be much more um, much goofier and have so much more fun with it -- be much louder, be more of who I am... and I really do have more of a personality, I look so boring on the show. I'm such a fun person.