Exclusive: Kayla Ferrel talks 'America's Next Top Model' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/31/2011
Kayla Ferrel became the sixth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model all-stars edition's seventh episode, which featured a special double elimination in which fellow contestant Bianca Golden was also ousted, during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Friday, the 20-year-old who previously appeared on Top Model's fifteenth season, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including why she wasn't surprised about her ouster but felt her elimination came too soon, how she overcame her issues of not wanting to pose with male models and ultimately found confidence, and what caused her to lose a bit of her personality when she had to come face-to-face with the judging panel each week.
Below is the first portion of our exclusive interview with Kayla. Check back with Reality TV World on Tuesday for the second half.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be eliminated or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand?
Kayla Ferrel: I actually had a lot of fun with the [Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi] shoot and I didn't get the most positive feedback from [Jay Manuel]. So you know when you don't get super positive feedback, you know to always expect it. So yeah, I was kind of expecting that I could be in the bottom two or possibly going home.
Reality TV World: This week happened to be only the second time you had ever been in the bottom two during this all-stars competition, so did you find it strange that you were eliminated especially since contestants like Alexandria Everett, Lisa D'Amato and Angelea Preston had also been in the bottom two a couple of times, if not several times? Did you think that was unfair and that you should have gotten another shot?
Kayla Ferrel: Well, I mean, I didn't really feel personally that I deserved to go home when I went home. But when I found out it was a double elimination, I was kind of like, "Oh sh-t. I'm going home. It's the curse," because last time, I went home during a double elimination. So when I hear "double elimination," I just automatically assume that that's my time. I hate those.
Yeah, when I found out it was a double elimination, I felt a little more like, "Oh crap, it might be me. It will probably be me." But yeah, I didn't really feel like I should have went home exactly when I went home, but I respect their decision. It's not my choice.
Reality TV World: For most of the past episodes, you have been called out in the middle of the pack when Tyra hands out the best photo to the worst of the week. Do you think just remaining in the middle of the pack is what got you eliminated, maybe in that you weren't the best but you also weren't at the bottom where you'd have a chance to show drastic improvement? For example, it seems like Angelea has been called out for doing really well in challenges since she has been portrayed as kind of the underdog.
Kayla Ferrel: Yeah, I think that being in the middle, especially as this cycle is now -- with any other cycle, it was more about your modeling -- this one is more about your branding, your personality. For me, I think that it was more or less that it's not that my photos were bad, because to me, I actually thought that a lot of my photos were pretty good.
I think it was more about that I was in that house with Angelea and Lisa and Bianca and all these girls who had these huge, standout personalities. Some of them were branded like b-tches. Some of them were branded as fun party girls. Some were kind of this -- some were kind of that. So, I think that for me, I think that I'm pretty much like a regular kind of girl.
Yeah, I had a little bit of a tough upbringing or something like that, but so have a lot of people. So for me, I think it was more of the fact that maybe the judges couldn't see where my branding could go -- not necessarily that I didn't have modeling potential, but I think that they were looking at the total package and they didn't see that I had that. I think that was why they made the decision they made.
Reality TV World: You had an issue with posing with men during your first cycle on Top Model, but this time around, you ended up having a great photo shoot for the Express campaign with the male models and you seemed very comfortable. What brought about the change and how did you overcome that problem?
Kayla Ferrel: I think it was more like when I had that -- because on TV, they make it seem like the talk I had with Mr. Jay was maybe like a minute, but we had a long time to talk. I never talked about it with anyone before. So, I actually talked to him and let it out and told him everything that I felt. After that, I've had a little bit of counseling to address my issues, you know?
I feel so much more -- I don't know how to explain it. It doesn't bother me like it once did. I don't have the same anger and animosity that I did for people of the opposite sex, I guess you could say. But I feel like I've had a lot of time to deal with my issues and now, it doesn't bother me at all. I've worked in Japan and I've had to pose with male models there, and it didn't affect me at all.
Reality TV World: When you were first given your brand of "free" you noted a few times that you had trouble understanding what it actually meant and how to portray it on film. But over the course of the season, you began to really latch onto the word and felt it truly described you well as a person. What did it take for you to take a hold of and run with that brand? When did you first realize it suited you?
Kayla Ferrel: You know, when I first got it, it was kind of like, "Okay, I can understand [Shannon Stewart]. It's easy to be pure or angelic or whatever" -- things like. But I'm like, "How do you be free? I feel free. I wake up and I feel like I'm free, but how do I show that?" So for me, during my Cycle 15, I had a really hard time saying everything that I've been through.
I was very emotional and I had a really tough time with it. I felt like I was still bound by my past a little bit. So, this cycle, I was like, "You know what? I'm going to show that I'm free. I'm going to be really proud of who I am and I'm going to have a good time. I'm not going to let things get to me like I did on my Cycle 15."
When we did do the challenge with the male models, I felt like I was free from my past and I was having fun with it. I didn't have the same reaction that I did. So, I think that I really just had to sleep on it and really think about what free meant to me. That's when it just started to come across, I guess.
Reality TV World: I know you touched a little bit on how maybe your brand wasn't as dominant as some of the other models, but Tyra Banks said she was missing your bubbly sweet personality, the reason why she originally asked you to be a part of Top Model All-Stars. You told her it was still there but you didn't show it much at panel. Why do you think that was? Were you just nervous every time you approached the panel or do you think you viewed the competition differently this time around in that maybe you took it more seriously so your attitude was more serious?
Kayla Ferrel: I think that what I do all the time is the panel gets like only maybe a good 20 minutes to see you, and for me, I didn't really know how to show I was free at panel. I'm with the other girls all the time and I'm having fun and I'm enjoying myself, but I also know the girls very well. When I go to panel, it's kind of like -- it's a different feeling.
It's kind of hard to just show that you're completely free, because you're like, "Okay, what should I do here? What should I do to make sure that they know that I am being the word that they gave me?" And I really didn't know how to portray that in panel. I would go, and I was 90% percent of the time honestly, come in not feeling super confident.
Because when I was on my Cycle 15, I always heard positive feedback -- nearly always -- maybe once or twice, I didn't. I was always hearing good things. And then to go into the panels on Cycle 17, the all-stars cycle, Mr. Jay didn't necessarily give me 100% percent positive feedback all the time. So, I would go in there kind of nervous.
It's hard to go in there and then be fun and be free -- kind of show who I am -- when you're nervous. You're thinking, "Oh my gosh, am I going to go home this week?" So, I think that it was more of like the photo shoots in my own mind thinking, "Oh my gosh, I'm probably going to go home this week," that made it clear they couldn't really see who I was.
Reality TV World: During the motorcycle photo shoot, Jay Manuel said you weren't sure of yourself. What do you think he meant by that and what was your reaction when you heard that? Would you agree, disagree?
Kayla Ferrel: Honestly, I 100% percent have no idea what he's talking about. I feel like if anything, on Cycle 15, that's when they could have said that I wasn't sure of myself, because I was like 19. I really didn't know myself that well. I was on TV coming out about my sexuality -- coming out about all these things.
I was an emotional wreck. That was when I wasn't confident. That was when I was unsure of myself. I had no idea who I was and now, that I've had time to really get to know who I was and watch myself on TV and really figure out who I am, now I'm confident.
Now I know who I am. So for him to say that, it was kind of like, "What are you talking about?" I don't know. I don't know what he meant by that. But you know, if that was his interpretation, then that's his interpretation. I can't really -- I personally don't get what he was saying when he said that, no.