Exclusive: Liz Williams talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/09/2010
Liz Williams became the ninth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model's fifteenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Monday, the 21-year-old shoe sales representative from Arlington, TX talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether she thought her elimination was justified, if she felt her "complainer" label was legitimate, how she felt about Top Model judge Nigel Barker's criticism of her personality, and what disappointed her after her elimination.
Reality TV World: You weren't in the bottom two last week, so are you surprised you got eliminated from America's Next Top Model or did you still see it coming beforehand?
Liz Williams: I think it was kind of based on how the judges thought during panel and the way they judge you off you pictures, you just kind of sense like ah, I guess tonight's the night. I was ready, but I was more like so glad I made it as far as I did. At least abroad, you know, that was the most exciting part of it.
Reality TV World: The judges all had mixed reactions to most of the girls' photos during critiques, as no one seemed to have a really standout bad picture like the judges normally have from week to week. You were told you were eliminated on the sole reason of having too many excuses -- do you think that reason was justified and enough to constitute your elimination?
Liz Williams: I mean, I don't think that's why I was necessarily eliminated because of the way things can be edited and turned around and just, they make you look how they want you to look, like they can only take one person complaining or one person's footage and use that the entire time, you know, even if the other girls are doing the same thing.
Editing just kind of didn't play in my favor I don't think at the end, but I feel I have a lot more time and plenty of opportunities to definitely show -- and the people that don't know me, that I'm a different person.
The people that do know me, they know I have a huge personality, a big sense of humor -- it's nothing like that because in the real world petty excuses they say I would make wouldn't last. I have three jobs and a kid -- I would not get far.
Reality TV World: The girls labeled you the "complainer," so what I've heard from you, you see that as an inaccurate depiction of yourself right?
Liz Williams: Yeah, I definitely do. Because I know in everyday that I'm not like that, but I mean, you just have to be so aware of your surroundings. That's definitely something I learned -- to be very aware -- you know you forget two months in you're still being watched, you're still on camera, people still are seeing everything you think and do, and then they can put it on TV however they want to put it. The reality -- that was a big lesson for me.
Reality TV World: You seemed very upset on the show about how distant you were from her and the separation tended to take a real toll on you. So was there a part of you that was actually relieved to be eliminated so you could go home to her and also, what inspiration did your daughter serve for you throughout the show?
Liz Williams: Yeah, I was more disappointed because once you're actually abroad you actually have to tag along until the end, so you don't actually get to go home and see your family. You have to stay there, so I was sad about that.
And two, she was definitely my motivation, like everyday she is the reason I wake up and go to my job. She is the reason I make sure I pay the bills and have a roof over my head, because of the fact she's the reason I got, I don't know, just the motivation to move around.
Because really, if I didn't have a kid, I'd probably be a crazy party animal now, but with her, you know I have to put my priorities first.
Reality TV World: You mentioned in the episode that whenever [Tyra Banks] gave you big news about a designer or a change of location you often looked at Chelsey to determine whether it was a big deal or not. How much knowledge would you say you have about the fashion industry in general, including designers, clothes, and the fashion capitals of the world?
Liz Williams: Right, honestly not that much at all just because I never really had the opportunity to take the time out to study it just because my family really pushes education more than modeling.
They kind of look at modeling as something not to really be proud of because school comes first, so it would disappoint my mom if I was like all up in the mirror and trying to look like a model I saw in a magazine and stuff like that.
She thought it was really a waste of time so, I just never had you know, the time to spare to look up stuff and research because it wasn't something I thought would really happen for me. When you're too busy working three jobs and you got your daughter, that's the last thing you think about... on my mind is sleep.
Reality TV World: The designer in particular, Missoni, seemed to thrill the girls knowing that they'd be working with her. So since you said you don't really have that much knowledge, how did you personally feel about her? Did that excite you or were you just going with the flow?
Liz Williams: Majority, honestly, I have to say I was just going with the flow. It was embarrassing here and there because I had no frickin clue, I had no idea. But it also was a slap in the face when I did get back home.
I really tried to do my research and see who was who so that I can be prepared next time. But it was my first time doing photo shoots, doing anything like that, so, I can understand I was inexperienced if I didn't know what I was doing to begin with.
Reality TV World: During your panel critiques, Nigel said that you often seemed uncommitted and that you laugh things off if they don't go as planned. What was your response to that critique? Does it make it easier for you to just take situations lightly, like is that just your personality, or was it maybe just nervous tension that was getting to you?
Liz Williams: Well that's the thing, yeah, they just didn't really try to get to know us outside of panel. And with me, you know, I'm a very emotional person and if I'm upset or I feel like I'm about to cry, I try to laugh it off. I tell my daughter the same thing when she gets hurt or something I tell her to shake it off if she's okay, and that's what I try to do before I cry.
A lot of editing didn't show me knocking over the camera crew on our commercial, me falling on my butt, like I was so embarrassed and there were so many people watching that I was really just trying to laugh it off because I was on the verge of just breaking down and crying, and I really didn't want to cry because then I felt that I would really look like an idiot.
So Nigel kind of came across differently but I'd much rather laugh something off than cry and ruin my makeup -- have to start over or make them think I'm not strong enough or can't handle it -- they would of had a couple different impression whether I cried, laughed, whatever. They'd have something different to say regardless.
Reality TV World: Andre Leon Talley told you that he thought your stance in this week's photograph was "slutty" and "declasse" as he says, what did you actually intend to come across from the modeling stance -- what was your motivation and mindset for that photo shoot in that particular stance?
Liz Williams: That was actually also not cool because they completely edited out that we had a challenge actually when we got to Italy. Me and Chris won that challenge and we got to see our photos halfway through the photo shoot. Mr. Jay would edit us and critique us and tell us what to change and do differently.
The majority of the photo shoot I was sitting down with some awesome pictures and the footage made it look horrible. He showed us our photos, and in fact we saw them and were excited and then at the very end the photographer wanted me to stand up. Mr. Jay and them were going back and forth -- one thinks stand up, one thinks sit down -- and I didn't know what I was supposed to do.
And then they choose a photo that was one of the near end of the photo shoot, and then say that that was the best photo? That was just very frustrating because of the fact that I actually got to see probably 50 of the photos or so, and then for them to choose one where we don't all look our best just kind of didn't set well with me, and then it was completely edited out.
Reality TV World: So when I spoke with Kendal a couple weeks ago 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 until now. So who do you consider your biggest competition? Ann started off the show winning best photo five weeks in a row but then the judges and girls now seem to think she's been slipping.
Liz Williams: At the time, I would have to say I really felt that maybe Kayla just because every photo she knew what she was doing and she would nail it. I definitely felt like she was my competition at the time.
And also just because Tyra and everyone loved Ann so much, I felt like regardless she would be considered the best out of the bunch. So I had to kind of see what I was doing for a bit that Ann wasn't.
Reality TV World: In regards to Kayla, she had the best photo this week. Do you the judges made the right decision?
Liz Williams: Um... yeah, I think so. Just because her face is really fierce, if that's the right word to use for it. She's just looks like she knows what she's doing. And even though she was uncomfortable with the males, she did a pretty good job.
Reality TV World: The judges told you they loved your androgyny, bone structure, and that you're gorgeous. What else do you find to be your strengths and advantages that you might of had over the other models?
Liz Williams: Just really that I push myself. I really have a goal to get things done and I feel like even though I didn't win, my future is just going to be doors opening all over the place, because I want to do acting, I want to do stuff with music, I want to do television hosting, and I want to do modeling for fitness magazines, and stuff with Nike and Adidas.
I have so many things I want to do -- plus school and architecture -- I'm still like, I'm definitely going to be a lot more successful than some of the other girls that are on the show just because I feel now I have the opportunity and the resources to accomplish what I've been wanting to do.
Reality TV World: Could you explain in a little more detail what happened during the panel critiques? The heat in Milan was obviously intense and the show showed Chelsey and yourself getting sick and looking very fatigued.
Liz Williams: They had us in like 107, 109 degree weather wearing thick, thick, thick wool, and we're in a warehouse with no air conditioning, and fans were blowing on the judges but we were just like, not getting any air.
We hadn't ate and it was just so hot -- on TV it looked like we were only there for five minutes, but in real life we were there for three hours. So I actually ended up -- they kind of edited out of order -- but I actually was running backstage and throwing up.
And then when I came back, Chelsey passed out. So Tyra was like okay, we need to sit down, this isn't working. But I honestly think that everything was set up on that show to you know, have something to look forward to.
Reality TV World: The girls all seemed disappointed when they were all set up in your house -- it was even once referred to as "Grandma's house" -- but Tyra later explained it's the way models live at first and that's the type of apartments you'd have to get used to. What did you think about staying there? What was your own opinion on that?
Liz Williams: I actually really liked it because of the fact that it's way bigger than where I live now. I've lived in homeless shelters, I've lived in a house with nine people sleeping on the floor so that was pretty nice in my standards.
I am in a one-bedroom apartment with three people right now and it's really cramped, so it was definitely spacious, it was roomy, there were enough beds -- I was happy with it -- I've had a lot worse.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction to the news that you were competing for Vogue Italia this season?
Liz Williams: I mean, I was excited. To be on any magazine would excite me really. It doesn't really matter if it was for America or any other country. It's really exciting regardless. Just hopefully I'll be on it -- I'll be on it one day -- couple years from now.
Reality TV World: Do you think it made a big difference in how the girls approached the competition knowing that that would be their prize?
Liz Williams: Um... Yeah, I mean to because some of the girls experience wise, like I know Chelsey -- to be on that cover meant a lot more to her probably than to the other girls-- for me in the long run, it just means a lot, for me to be successful and be able to provide for my family.
You know, because it's really tough. I'm making minimum wage right now, so that's my biggest thing. I just want to be able to provide -- whether I'm on a magazine cover or not.
Reality TV World: For the model that makes it on the cover, do you think it makes a big difference in a Top Model's winner's success or are you somewhat skeptical about it?
Liz Williams: Um... I don't know just because of the fact that so many girls have won and then it's like, where did they go, you know? They just fell off or disappeared and then you see the girls who didn't win who have actually gone so much further and have become so much more successful.
So I really feel like as long as I made it overseas, I got abroad, I got the exposure, I got the opportunity, I met the photographer and the people and the celebrities -- that really just opened a window, and got my name out there so I can try to blow up without having the title of America's Next Top Model.
Reality TV World: You mentioned earlier that one of your first photo shoots was during the show, so did you actually have any prior modeling experience or was this the first plunge into it for you?
Liz Williams: That was my very, very, very first. I've never -- mostly because of my mom -- I've never done any modeling whatsoever. I've just been going to school and work, and it just never was an opportunity. My mom used to say God can take it away in a second so you need to have a backup plan. So school was my backup plan.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on America's Next Top Model? What made you come to that decision and was it also your first time applying for the show?
Liz Williams: Yeah, it was my first time, I was at work and people everyday were just like, you should try out, you should try out! I was like, yeah, I don't know, I don't know. And I had to work on the day of the audition and so I went ahead and got someone to cover my shift, and I had to get up real early.
I was out there at about 7AM with about 300 other girls... in Dallas. And then, the next thing you know I was there until like six that evening and just got a phone call a couple weeks later to fly out to LA for casting week to Palm Springs.
And the next thing you know, I'm in the house and then all of a sudden I'm on a plane to Italy, so it just kind of happened before I even realized it.
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 do it all over again?
Liz Williams: That's a really good question actually. I'm proud of the fact that I was honest and I handled myself pretty well. But definitely if I could go back, I would make sure I was very cautious of me letting people know how I felt, or what I was thinking, or being blunt -- I would have definitely kept it to myself -- so it wouldn't have appeared like, oh that's the girl that complains. That's definitely not the title I'm shooting for.