Exclusive: Lisa D'Amato talks about 'Top Model' win, Angelea Preston
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/09/2011
Lisa D'Amato was crowned America's Next Top Model's winner of its first ever all-stars edition during Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW reality competition's seventeenth-season finale.
On Friday, the 30-year-old who previously appeared on Top Model's fifth season, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model victory and overall experience -- including what she knows about Angelea Preston's largely unexplained disqualification and how she responded to rumors claiming that she wasn't the original winner, whether she was confident she'd take home the title when standing next to Allison Harvard in the end, and how she would have reacted if told she only finished as the runner-up.
Below is the first portion of our exclusive interview with Lisa. Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for the second half.
Lisa D'Amato: It feels like an incredibly peaceful validation that is far and beyond redemption.
Reality TV World: How confident were you before you were announced the winner that you'd be the one to win the title? After hearing everything the judges had to say during the panel critiques, did you think Allison was more likely to win or no?
Lisa D'Amato: Allison and I were so incredibly different that it really just depended on what they wanted. I know that in terms of who was definitely going to use this in the industry and really take all the prizes home and utilize them to their fullest, I knew it would be me. But that wasn't something that is going to be based upon who's going to win or not.
Allison is completely different and she loves painting and art direction, whereas everything that is this branding season, is what I have been married to since I was 12-years-old and have been working towards forever hoping it was me.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words that your confidence actually comes from a very vulnerable place. Could you elaborate a little more on what you meant by that? When you said you have to lift yourself up everyday, are you saying that your cheery, outgoing personality is somewhat of an act because you're really hurting inside because of your past and everything or is that truly the real you and how you act naturally?
Lisa D'Amato: Yeah, it's all from my past. I come from a very physical, mental and sexually abusive childhood, and with that, it feels like weight on your shoulders for years. I got therapy, so it has actually come full circle and when I mean that it comes from a very vulnerable place, that means that I was my own soldier. I was my own motivation everyday.
I had to pick myself up and all the holes that were in my heart over and over and over again, I had to sew them back up. So, my confidence, it comes from a vulnerable place but it is also something that I'm not going to apologize for because I earned it. I have something that is incredibly priceless that no one -- no one in the world can buy and that's thick skin.
Reality TV World: How do you think you would have reacted if you had been announced the runner-up? Allison seemed to take the news really well and just congratulated you without even crying. Do you think you would have handled it that well or would you have been very upset and more disappointed than Allison?
Lisa D'Amato: I am somebody that is definitely -- this isn't my first rodeo, and I know how these things work out. There's a lot of politics involved and I would have been incredibly upset because I wasn't losing to somebody who was incredibly passionate about all the aspects of this, you know?
If I had lost to Angelea or lost to [Laura Kirkpatrick] or someone who really, really wants this in their future and their life forever, it would have been easier. But if Allison won, it definitely would have stung because I know that she would have gone back home to painting and set design and being a photographer and taking pictures in between.
Reality TV World: Why did you originally want to compete on Top Model again and how important was it for you to win the competition going into it?
Lisa D'Amato: I went on America's Next Top Model All Stars because it was a branding season and it was about trying to or executing if you are the quadruple threat, and coming from Cycle 5, I definitely was the quadruple threat, but I didn't take the competition as seriously as I should. In the end, that hurt me.
So, it was kind of like -- it was definitely a second chance and I couldn't be more prepared, more appreciative, more capable of being able to take on being the franchise face -- being the All Star winner. And I was definitely married to the future and being kind of like taming the beast of the wild child a bit, but bringing it out when necessary.
Reality TV World: What do you think you would have done after the show had you not won? Would you have resorted back to what you were doing prior to the show's all-stars edition or would you attempt to pursue different things?
Lisa D'Amato: The All Stars -- everything that the All Stars embrace in terms of branding, that could just be a show to some of the girls, but that's my life. So, 2012 was already going to be a huge break-out year for me in the entertainment industry.
I have been lining up and building my racecars all these years, and being the All Star winner, definitely is the icing on the cake and kind of pushes the envelope a little bit and seals them as well.
Reality TV World: Angelea has announced plans for a "tell-all" press conference tomorrow in which she's vowing to reveal "what really happened" with her disqualification on Top Model. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have any comment?
Lisa D'Amato: Absolutely. Angelea's disqualification, of course there's all these rumors and speculation, and then I've definitely heard a bunch myself. I don't know the exact facts, but this is a competition contestant show, where girls are eliminated each week.
So, it is just the nature of the beast and at the end of it all, I respect her privacy and I wouldn't want to hurt her personally. It's not in my place, but at the end of the day, checkmate.
Reality TV World: Do you feel like the Angelea controversy has stolen some of your spotlight and that all the headlines out there regarding her disqualification has kind of taken away from your victory or denied you the chance to beat her directly?
Lisa D'Amato: All press is good press and I love Angelea. So getting asked questions about her is something that doesn't irritate me at all. I love her and I'm one of her fans.
Reality TV World: Okay good, because I have two more questions on the topic. (Laughs) How and when did you find out about Angelea's disqualification?
Lisa D'Amato: It all -- you know, it's funny, because there was a lot of speculation that was going on in the house earlier, but it's just rumors. At the end of the day, we all kind of resort to our high-school mentality of just talking and rumors and whatever. At the end of the day, something that always resonated in my heart was that I was always the winner.
Reality TV World: The CW has announced the show re-shot some of the scenes in its finale episode, which has led many viewers to believe that Angelea was the original winner and you were only named the champion basically because of her disqualification. Could you comment on whether that was the case? And if not, does it bother you that that's the perception out there of your victory?
Lisa D'Amato: I think that it's great if people just keep talking about it. I don't see that there's any harm in that. In terms of, "Do I feel hurt by it?" Absolutely not.
In my heart of hearts, through the competition and once it got to the end, I always knew that I was the winner. In terms of competition, Allison and I had the most "best pictures" and the most challenge wins. So, in fair competition, Allison and I went toe-to-toe, because that's fair.
Reality TV World: During the finale episode, Allison said she mainly wanted to go on the show for the exposure and had many interests besides just modeling. Many of the girls this season have criticized Allison's passion for modeling and even said that she flat out hated runway. What's your opinion on that? Would you say maybe she didn't really deserve to win because she wasn't as passionate about modeling as the rest of you girls?
Lisa D'Amato: Well, it was definitely difficult to be in a competition with Allison when you genuinely can see that she's not enjoying it.