Exclusive: Krista White talks about her 'America's Next Top Model' win
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/14/2010
Krista White had performed extremely well heading into America's Next Top Model's final fourteenth-season judging panel, however she didn't consider herself the favorite to win.
But she should have, as the 26-year-old retail manager from Pine Bluff, AR was crownedAmerica's Next Top Model's fourteenth-season winner during Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW reality competition's finale.
On Friday, Krista talked to Reality TV World about why she wasn't entirely confident heading into the finale; who she saw as her biggest competition; what she thinks set her apart from the other girls; why she is prepared to overcome any obstacles her age might present; and how she's already eying aspiring to be the next Tyra Banks.
Reality TV World: Given you'd had the top photo at each of the last few judging panels leading up to the finale, how confident were you they you were going to be the winner? You had to at least have considered yourself the favorite, right?
Krista White: No, not at all. (laughing) I didn't consider myself to be the favorite, I didn't think it was a sure win for me. I was still thinking after my first picture, the second, the third that, "Hey, it could still be me. I could still be going home."
The track record in the house was [Jessica Serfaty] had two best pictures and she went home. [Alasia Ballard] had two best pictures and she went home. There's no guarantee with having a best picture that you're going to stay. Every panel I considered myself in the bottom and I could be going home.
Reality TV World: Based on that, what do you think made the judges crown you the winner instead of [Raina Hein]?
Krista White: I'm thinking that they maybe saw more of a total package. I thought we both had our strengths and our weaknesses. We both had stuff that we could probably work on and get better at.
I think I probably progressed more, and the show really is about progressing -- starting at one point and taking everything you could have possibly learned in the competition and taking it to the next level. I think I embodied that. I think that's kind of what pushed me over the edge.
Reality TV World: Tyra even mentioned after you won that you seemed to grow a lot as a model over the course of the season. Did you think you were one of the strongest competitors and had a good chance of winning when the show started, and if not when did that big to change for you?
Krista White: In the competition I want to say I was pretty consistent because I was always in the Top 5 except for two photos -- and that was my first photo shoot, which was the nude one, and the fourth one, which was my vampire one. Those were the only two when I was in the bottom three. I never was in the bottom two. I pretty much stayed in the Top 5. So I would say I was pretty consistent.
I'd say I probably hit my peak or started to get stronger around the CoverGirl shoot, that was when I found my niche and I kind of ran with it. I would say I was pretty consistent except for those two.
Reality TV World: Did you see Raina as your biggest competition or was there another girl that you thought was stronger than her and expected to be in the Final 2 with you?
Krista White: Oh yes, I saw Raina as a big competitor! She was one of my favorites. Everybody has their favorites going in or they have ones where they say, "Hey, I know she's going to go far. Hey, I can see her in the finale." Raina was one of those people. Her face -- after meeting her in casting, even with her blonde hair and eyebrows -- I was like, "That face, that face, that face! That face is undeniable."
So her being in the Top 2, I was not surprised. I put her there myself in my own little set up of who I thought were the top people. She was definitely one of the top people in my books. I saw [Angelea Preston] as competition too because she started out really great from the first photo shoot and progressed. I saw her as big competition too.
I saw a lot of people, like [Brenda Arens]. She had very unique features. I could see her being in the top. I could probably find a reason for everybody to win except myself. (laughing)
Reality TV World: You commented on how Raina's bubbly personality was a bit "over the top" and could come across as fake. Looking back at it now, do you still think she was being "fake" or do you now thing she's just really that upbeat all the time?
Krista White: I thought it was a bit much and I still think it's a bit over the top. I saw her as low as I saw her when the cameras weren't on. I talked to her in casting when the cameras weren't on and we had a moment after the finale when we were in the same hotel room when the cameras weren't on.
So I've seen her outside of that, that's why I question her a lot on that bubbly personality. I didn't want to see you just turn that on when the cameras came on. I wanted to see that all the time if that was you, because I can respect that.
Like Angelea. She had her little attitude here and there, but I can respect that because that was her with the cameras on or off. So I think it was partly her, but she did turn it up a little more when the cameras turned up. That was my only question with it.
Reality TV World: Do you think it ultimately hurt her chances of winning the competition?
Krista White: Of course not. Some people may like that about her -- that may be one of the things that they admired or liked about her. I don't think it hurt her or made her miss out on her chances at all.
Reality TV World: Can you talk a little bit about how long you had been trying to get on the show? There was one point in the finale where you told Raina you'd wanted to be on the show since the first season in 2003 and tried out like five times but then after you won you said you auditioned 12 times.
Krista White: I've been auditioning since 2003. That's like the first season -- I was fresh out of high school -- and that was when [Kesse Wallace] from Little Rock was on there. That was my first, first time auditioning. I auditioned all the way up to the sixth cycle and that was around the time when I was like, "I don't know. I don't know if I can do this again. That's a lot of time to be auditioning."
But then I saw [sixth-season winner Danielle Evans] from Little Rock win it, and I was like, "Okay, I can do this." So I kept going. I tried out in a couple of states. I tried out a couple of times in Arkansas. I've been to Texas, Memphis, California, and Vegas. I've probably tried out about five places.
Reality TV World: Why do you think finally got you cast for the competition?
Krista White: Honestly, I have no idea because I went in there with the same thing I always did. The only thing that changed about me was probably my hairstyles from 2003 to 2009 when I tried out. I would say the only thing that probably changed was my hair. (laughing)
Reality TV World: At 26 years old, you are the oldest winner Top Model has ever had and I think Season 2 winner Yoanna House -- who was 24 at the time -- is the only prior winner within a couple of years of you. Given the modeling industry is obviously so youth-obsessed, how aware of that fact were you during the competition and how big of a disadvantage did you consider it to be at the time?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The CW's press materials have incorrectly been listing Krista's age as 26. She is actually 25.]
Krista White: Actually when I was on the show and we were filming I was 24. So a lot of the girls were 22 or 23 -- there was two girls who were 18 and maybe one or two that were 19. So I was only a year or two years older than some of the other girls.
Reality TV World: So you didn't really see your age as a disadvantage?
Krista White: No, I didn't really see it as a disadvantage because a year or two years, what is that? We were all in high school at the same time, I was just a senior when you were a sophomore or freshman. (laughing) That was the only difference. I never saw it as a big thing. But it did bother me a little bit going in. I was like, "Maybe I'll get the you're-too-old edit." But I think it's just how you look.
I don't really look like I'm 24 or 25 -- because as soon as we came back from New Zealand is when I turned 25. I celebrated my birthday for two days because it was [December 19] in New Zealand and then I flew into Arkansas and it was the 19th here. So when we wrapped it was my birthday and I turned 25.
Reality TV World: Just to follow up on that, there's been some criticism that the fact your already 25 is too old to be trying to break into the industry and have a lot of success and the judges should have picked a younger contestant that has a better chance of succeeding. What are your thoughts on that -- do you see your age as something that's going to be an obstacle or hinder you going forward?
Krista White: I know that the industry is obsessed with youth. Do I see it as an obstacle? Yes. I think there's always going to be obstacles. There's obstacles in life, and what do you have to do? You have to overcome them. So me trying out for all those seasons, I overcame that. I won this cycle.
I'm not okay with this peak. I'm going to fight and push through. I have no problem with that. I'm going to have people that tell me, "No, no, no" over and over. But I'm also going to have those people that open the door and tell me, "Yes." I'm going to do to the best of my abilities and take it over the top. I plan to stay in it to win it and fight it and being here for longevity.
But I know the fashion industry is obsessed with youth and I know that maybe I should go through media to get into modeling to do what I want to do -- which is modeling. I might have to go through media, which is not a bad thing, because if you look at a lot of magazine covers and the makeup campaigns, what are they? They're all entertainers and singers and stuff like that. Maybe going through media is a good thing for me too. I've done my research. (laughing)
Reality TV World: Were you concerned that flubbing your lines during the CoverGirl commercial shoot might hurt your chances of winning?
Krista White: Of course I was! (laughing) In the beginning I did not want the cue cards so I had those lines down. I just remember [Top Model photo shoot director Jay Manuel] telling me, "Krista, just relax." I kept going over the lines. He was like, "If you know them, just leave it alone, because in that last hour you keep cramming it in."
So then I went to the makeup artist and I think I said them to [thirteenth-season winner Nicole Fox] and I said them to the hairstylist. I had my paper, I was walking out there, I was like, "I've got this." As soon as the lights went on for me to talk into that camera, my mind just went like, "Woosh!" The lights turned off. I was like, "Holy crap! You've got to be kidding me!"
Reality TV World: But you were able to overcome the mistakes instead of letting them bring you down and hurt you even more. Why do you think you were able to do that and do you think it impressed the judges?
Krista White: I think it played a big role. I'm human, I'm going to make mistakes. I'm not perfect. I didn't go into it thinking I was perfect. So it's okay to make mistakes. It's just how you overcome it and get through it. So for them to see that in me and see I was still going to fight and going to push and give them my all even though I was falling flat was a big thing. I think they saw something in me.
Reality TV World: The judges commented that your "hard edge" personality might hurt you in the light-hearted finale runway show, however they thought you were able to overcome it. Why do you think you were able to do so well?
Krista White: Oh gosh, I was practicing so hard because I know I'm strictly high-fashion. Everybody has their battles in the competition -- like some of the girls, their battle was trying to cross over into high-fashion. My strong suit was high fashion, so I had to try to crossover into the commercial thing. It's really difficult for me because I have strong features and sometimes when I smile it can come off as a little cheesy and not fun and flirty, which I know is Raina's niche.
That made me nervous and I was scared so I practiced my runway walk. I was strong in runways but adding the smile and the peppiness is different for me. I thought I pulled it off really well. I was still nervous and I kind of still think she had a shoe up on me because her face is undeniable. When she smiles it's radiant, it's beautiful.
Reality TV World: It's no secret that judge Andre Leon Talley was one of your biggest fans throughout the season. What do you think he saw in you that made him like you so much?
Krista White: Now see, I don't think Andre was my biggest fan. (laughing) I could have sworn to you that maybe it was Alasia or someone else. I don't think he was my biggest fan. In the beginning, he was a little tough on me and he said some things to me, so I don't think I was his favorite at all. But some of the things he did say -- like me working internationally and stuff like that -- it was really influential coming from him.
He's so big in the fashion industry, for him to say, "I can see her internationally working in Milan or Paris" is amazing because he knows the fashion industry. He knows what's hot right now. He knows what's in and what people are looking for. He knows the demand. So for him to say that means a lot to me.
Reality TV World: What did you think of having Andre as a new judge, overall?
Krista White: I liked him as a judge. I thought he did a good job. When we were looking tacky, he let us know. (laughing) When we were doing bad, he let us know. There wasn't any sugar-coating. There was no beating around the bush.
He gave it to you straight forward and you take that information and do what you will with it. I liked that... You knew what he meant. For him to be so big in the fashion industry and to give us that advice, we were eating it up. We loved it. I thought he did a great job.
Reality TV World: Some of the other girls commented about how they thought you could be mean, and we did see some of that on the season. What's your response to that? Do you think it was just your competitive nature?
Krista White: Actually I don't think I was that mean. I think they took my jokes as being mean. But me and the background I came from with my family, we're jokesters. We crack jokes on everybody and we crack jokes on each other -- that's just where we come from. That's part of my nature and part of who I am. I don't want to hide that because that's what I'm used to.
So sometimes when I cracked jokes I think they took that in a mean way. It's life. People crack jokes. It's what I do. The only big blow up I had was in the beginning with Alasia. Other than that, you didn't really see me in any fights. I kind of stepped back and laughed at the girls for fighting because some of the bickering was funny to me too.
Reality TV World: You talked about Angelea's personality earlier in the interview. Was she really as confident and kind of cocky as she appeared on the show or was that just the editing?
Krista White: To me she appeared really confident and cocky. I think that's her nature. I think if she's going to do good in the industry she's got to turn the attitude down a little bit. But I think that's her background and where she comes from. You can't really judge that.
You know, how you were raised, everybody came into that house from their backgrounds. You had people who were mothers and came into the house and that's what they were -- they were mothers to some of the other girls. You had people who came in and they lived a rough life, so they came in a little rough around the edges. But that's where they come from so we shouldn't judge them for that. I wish people wouldn't, but I guess it's a part of life.
Reality TV World: What was the hardest part of the competition for you?
Krista White: The hardest part of the competition -- but I would think it was the best part too -- was going in a room and there's so many other beautiful people there and you're not the most beautiful person in the room. You're looking around and we all wanted to go for that prize.
We were all very competitive and I would say that's when a lot of the lashing out and the fighting and the bickering came from. We all could feel the passion from each other. We all knew we wanted that No. 1 prize. It was a problem but fun at the same time because everybody's competitiveness came out and you saw that.
Reality TV World: What was the reaction of family and friends after they learned you won?
Krista White: I was actually in New York doing press when the finale aired. When I called home everyone was screaming and crying and I talked to them once they kind of calmed down. They were so excited. My mom and my dad were really emotional and my grandparents because they were the ones that started taking me to the auditions and they always taught me to never give up.
They know that I wanted this for so long -- since I was a young girl. Living in Arkansas you don't come across that. It's hard to break into the fashion industry from Arkansas when you're young and you don't know how to venture out and you're too young to go off by yourself. They were excited for me.
Reality TV World: Now that you have won, what's next for you?
Krista White: I have a lot of things coming up. I'm a CoverGirl model now. I'm really excited about that. My contract with Wilhelmina, I met with the agent and we got some things going in the works. I have a "Back to School" campaign that I did with Max Rave -- that's owned by Max Azria -- and it'll be up in the stores for back to school. So I have a lot of things going on.
I want to continue to build myself up in the fashion industry. I don't want to be like a lot of the girls -- a stereotype -- where most of the girls who win a cycle you hear about them for maybe about a month and then it's like they disappear. I don't want to be that person. I want to break the standard and break the stereotypes and show them I do want to go out here, I do want to work.
I want to do a lot of things. I want to venture into talk shows. You know, Tyra's leaving her talk show. She was that person that motivated young girls and told them a lot about society and things they didn't know about and had those conversations they weren't getting at home. Now that she's leaving I want to branch into that, I want to go into acting. I want to do a lot of stuff. I'm sure you will see and hear me a lot.