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HOME > America's Next Top Model > America's Next Top Model: Guys & Girls

Exclusive: 'Top Model: Guys & Girls' Jiana Davis opens up about her time on the show


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/23/2013 

America's Next Top Model eliminated Jiana Davis during The CW's broadcast of the twentieth season's eighth episode.

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Jiana, a 5' 10" 20-year-old bartender from Denver, CO, was eliminated from the competition after she found herself in the bottom two alongside Phil Sullivan, a 6' 3 1/2" 24-year-old bartender from Lanesboro, MA.

The two models landed in the bottom based upon their challenge score and total combined scores from the judges and viewers for a photo shoot which required the contestants to individually pose as living art installations in a gallery. They were made up naturally and had paint thrown on them. Jiana's overall score was 26.90 to Phil's 27.00.

In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World via email, Jiana talked about her Top Model: Guys & Girls experience.

Reality TV World: You were devastated when you got eliminated. Was that in part because you felt Phil would probably be the one going home instead of you? Based upon the surprised faces on the other contestants when you got eliminated, it seemed like they expected him to go.

Jiana Davis:  It was obviously a total devastation initially, however I realize that I have been, and will continue to compete with those closest to me my entire life. It's not always about winning, it's about learning to make the most out of every possible opportunity and being a wise and humble competitor.

Reality TV World: Did it make your elimination even harder or sting more because you lost by only a tenth of a point?

Jiana Davis: At the time, the point difference did seem like the "icing" on the metaphorical "devastation cake," but ultimately I didn't view it as a loss. That day, I was able to learn to trust in my own confidence both in modeling and the "real-world." At the end of the day, I was still afforded the opportunity to participate in the fiercest competition known to 186 countries alongside my idol, Miss TyTy. rawr. ;)

Reality TV World: You started off the competition doing so well, as Tyra Banks noted. But then your modeling performance kind of began faltering week to week. What do you think was happening? Do you think the pressure was getting to you or maybe your confidence was being shaken?

Jiana Davis: It's tough looking back and realizing I can't change it. Modeling is 110% about being on your game EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. I definitely believe that as each week came to pass, the better I performed, the more comfortable I became with my position. It wasn't necessarily that I wasn't confident, it was simply that I needed to remember my purpose and stay focused on why it is I began modeling from the get-go.

I could blame it on being home-sick or being under constant pressure to deliver, but I feel as though it may have had to do largely with the fact that I wasn't pushing myself to go above and beyond like I am known for. I began settling, which is a BIG no-go for me. I refuse to settle and the day I slipped up, I learned a very difficult lesson.

Reality TV World: I haven't seen Tyra get that emotional over an elimination in a while. Could you talk about your relationship with her a little bit? Did you get close to her for some reason, more so than the other contestants?

Jiana Davis: Watching that was an emotional roller-coaster for us all! Glad it's over, I couldn't stand to have people see me cry like that. I've always been the tough girl who stays strong for everyone else if I can help it. I think Tyra knew the moment she hand-picked me that there was a spark similar to her own when she started out.

Our stories, while vastly different, are similar in the way that we both started out at a young age coming from the opposite of picture perfect backgrounds and stepped into an industry that requires us to have thick skin. Her parents were divorced, my parents were separated, she was told, "No."

She gave up college to pursue her dreams. The list goes on. I'm honored that she saw something in me, took a risk and gave me a chance. I'm honored like all the other contestants to be that much closer to my life-long dream coming true.

Reality TV World: You and Phil were obviously really close/flirty friends. Although Phil had a girlfriend back home, do you think he liked you and was trying to pursue you? Some viewers find it a little strange he had a girlfriend back home and acted the way he did with you.

Jiana Davis: I couldn't imagine the extreme pressure of having a significant other back home while managing the competition as well as being under constant scrutiny. Phil was just a goofy dude who kept everyone -- literally everyone -- cameramen, audio team, producers, designers, laughing any chance he could.

I think he's just a guy who's comfortable being himself all the time. He really loves his girlfriend and I am not the type to impose on that sort of thing. I think people should admire guys who can have female pals with no intent.

Reality TV World: Were you crushing on Phil in return at all or did you just see him in a friendly light?

Jiana Davis: To be honest, Phil was one of the most real and relatable dudes on the show. He has an awesome, upbeat personality, and at the end of the day, I just support his outlook on his own beliefs: His love for his girlfriend, his sense of humor, his career. etc...... We are simply good friends.

Reality TV World: How much of an effect did the fact Phil had a girlfriend back home and you didn't want to get distracted by a guy in the house during the competition play in your dynamic with Phil? Did you find yourself being standoffish or holding back at times when you were hanging out with him due to those two circumstances?

Jiana Davis:  Absolutely not. I think it's sort of funny, it appears post-production that I didn't want to get distracted by "a guy," who not only was in a serious relationship, but I think it was misunderstood that I didn't want to be distracted, period. It's not even in my nature to be standoffish at all, the competition kept everyone on edge so it was nice having a buddy to keep things light.

Reality TV World: It almost seems like Jourdan Miller is just blowing the competition away at this point. Did you guys feel like that at this point in the season or were the rest of the models in the house still confident they could perform better than her and eventually beat her?

Jiana Davis: I believe that Jourdan is an awesome model. She completes the look and can definitely photograph well in print. However, if it were any of the models that were receiving FCO's and best photos week-to-week, the other models would have no choice but to step it up!

Reality TV World: What were your general thoughts about Jourdan? The models seemed to have mixed opinions on her.

Jiana Davis: No one likes someone who badmouths others, so I'll put it simply; She's still fairly young and I believe she will go far with her modeling career once she learns to let go of her past.

Reality TV World: You said in your final words you gave up a lot to compete on Top Model. Could you talk about that a little bit? What did you give up?

Jiana Davis: My final words?! It sounds so morbid! LOL. But I mentioned earlier that I had decided to forego college, despite having quite a sound academic record all through school. Few people in my family really completed their college education, so for me it was a major step. Not to mention, modeling is such a cut-throat industry, I didn't really know what to expect.

I faced losing my job back home and left behind a messy breakup. Not to mention I'm extremely close with my family, both immediate and extended. I help out whenever and however I can to support my Mom who has raised myself and three siblings on her own after leaving a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with my father.

Despite growing up just at poverty line, I wanted people to know that that part of me didn't matter. Modeling has always been my escape. I could have gone through missing out on Christmas because we couldn't afford it, to jumping on set and imagining myself as the most fierce supermodel the world has ever seen.

Reality TV World: How much modeling experience did you have prior to appearing on the show and was this your first time applying for Top Model?

Jiana Davis: I jokingly remind people who think I just had some overnight success story -- that I have come a long, long way since my start. I used to sneak out in high school to go to some dive bar in Denver to walk in a runway show that was well over 21+ age limit. I was quite the sweet-talker.

When I was 15, I was invited as a guest to a pageant here in Denver, I lived in a district that didn't get the invite to compete, but somehow managed to get asked to be a part of the pageant and was sponsored and ended up winning the crown!

By 16, I had sold a fur coat that I wore in a runway show and made my first commission. Slowly but surely I began getting recognized and started accepting any and every gig I could get my hands on. And now, I'm proudly able to say that I've walked down buildings and worn clothing in front of the CEO of Guess Jeans, Nylon Magazine and designers to the stars. I feel so incredibly blessed.

Reality TV World: Could you talk a little bit about your struggle with the photo shoot in which you had to pose as a living art gallery installation and have paint thrown on you? What did you find difficult about that?

Jiana Davis: Other than my joking remark, "I don't like being sticky!" I felt as though I wasn't entirely sure of myself. I stepped onto set that day and just felt, off. It happens. But also a humbling reminder that in this industry you have to be on your A-game every. single. second.

Reality TV World: Some viewers have suggested the girls are at a disadvantage this season because female fans of the show naturally tend to give higher social media scores to the guys considering they probably crush on some of them a little. Did you feel that way? Do you think the boys' scores will probably be higher than most of the girls' throughout the rest of the season?

Jiana Davis: I don't know about the rest of the world but I believe sex sells. Unfortunately, this was a battle of the sexes. I told someone just the other day, "Could you imagine introducing girls to a male-ruled sport? In the NBA? The NFL?!" The answer seems simple, doesn't it? "No," you couldn't imagine it. "Those are two completely separate worlds."

But Tyra chose to take a HUGE risk and combine these two industries, ruled by men and women on different levels and combine them. And -boom- Cycle 20 was born.

At first I thought it would be completely unfair and based on favoritism, however the show did a phenomenal job at blending the line between the two worlds. Guys dressing like girls, girls acting like dudes, etc.... I think the fans will stay loyal and vote according to who they like best as a MODEL.

Reality TV World: Tell us a little bit about your experience with the separate competition amongst the eliminated models. Did you feel more or less pressure than the original competition? Was it frustrating to compete for that one spot back on the show?

Jiana Davis: Of course it was frustrating! I was now an underdog! My mother has always instilled in us that the tenacity and heart of the underdog is more genuine and pure than a champion who hasn't rightfully earned it. I wanted to earn that spot. I had to.

The pressure level was essentially the same, the only saving grace was that this season was part of the comeback series so we had equal chance to come back and knock out the other competitors.  (Not) physically. ;)

Reality TV World: If Phil and his girlfriend break up, do you see potential for the both of you to date down the road?

Jiana Davis: Oh my goodness, I wonder if this is what it's like on The Bachelorette?!! I'm trying to imagine another set of Q and A's involving so many questions about love interests! LOL. Kidding, I think Phil is an awesome model and friend, and that's it.

Reality TV World: What's next for you after the Top Model season finishes airing? Will you continue to pursue modeling and what are your goals now?

Jiana Davis: This "speed bump" as Tyra would call it, will never surpass my ambition. I was given this opportunity for a reason and I will build the success and career I have dreamed of since I was a little kid putting on runway shows for my Grandma. ;)

I will definitively be moving to either L.A. or NYC (much to my mother's dismay because I'll be too far from home) to interview agencies and pursue my dreams in this industry.

I always said as a kid that I wanted to be a Victoria's Secret Angel to pay for law school. While that idea is brewing, I would like to be signed with an agency of my choice and travel internationally -- Milan, Paris, London -- and see the world and experience the most that I can while doing what I love. People will remember me not by where I've been, but by where I end up going.

-Jiana xox

(Photo credit The CW)


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