Interview: Nijah Harris talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By John Bracchitta, 03/24/2009
Nijah Harris learned the hard way that you need to "smile with your eyes."
Despite her promising start to America's Next Top Model that left the judges impressed with her natural beauty, Nijah's inability to show enough emotion through her eyes proved to be too big of a shortcoming, as the 18-year-old aspiring model from Rancho Cucamonga, CA became the third girl to be cut from The CW reality modeling series during last week's broadcast.
On Monday, Nijah spoke to Reality TV World during a media conference call about what difficulties she had during her joint photo shoot with Kortnie, a 24-year-old non-profit organizer from Houston, TX; what she thought about having to portray a "SoHo artist" in her shoot; and what she thought of each of her three runway walks she was able to participate in while on the show.
Reality TV World: Could you just talk a little bit about the difficulties you had with that last photo shoot? You said that it was more difficult modeling with a partner than you thought it would be.
Nijah: Oh yes. When you're working with a partner not only do you have to [if you are creating] a good group picture, but you also have to make sure you don't get lost. You wanna make sure you connect with your partner. Me and my partner, we were fine, we got along. But at that particular moment in time we couldn't quite click together and quite get something going at the same time.
And not only that, but for some reason I just wasn't quite feeling it myself that day. I don't know if it was because of the actual theme we got, or what it was, but yeah...
Reality TV World: Yeah, actually kind of going off on that. You both were criticized for not portraying "SoHo artists" the way [the judges] wanted. That kind of seemed like a hard thing to portray. How did you feel about pulling that? Did you prefer [another subject that someone else got]?
Nijah: Oh yes! I would've loved to have gotten the "Snooty Girls," or the "Nannies." I actually would've preferred to be any one besides our own.
Reality TV World: Could you talk about how you felt your runway walks went, first with Miss J and then the runway shoot?
Nijah: The Jill Stuart one or the very first one?
Reality TV World: Well both of them if you could.
Nijah: Okay. Well the first runway show in New York where we had to portray the "Good Girl vs. Bad Girl" I felt like I did a very good job, that was so much fun. I was really excited to finally walk for everybody and get to show what I feel is my strong point.
Then when I had runway classes with [Jay "Miss J" Alexander] that was so much fun to be able to walk in front of him and hear what he has to say about it because I look up to him so much (unintelligible).
When I did Jill Stuart's fashion show I felt like I did... Oh, I felt like I owned my dress and everything. I felt like I brought my confidence across. Um, she didn't quite feel the same way, which is okay (Laughs) but yeah... I enjoyed what I did on both runway shows and I felt like I did a really good job.
Reality TV World: Did you write a note after your elimination to the other girls?
Reality TV World: Could you talk a little about what you said?
Nijah: Um, I wrote a note, a letter, to [Teyona, a 20-year-old loss prevention representative from Woodstown, NJ] and I wrote one to [Aminat, a 21-year-old student from Union, NJ] and I wrote one to all the girls in the house, period.
The one to Teyona, I told her that I appreciate everything that she did for me, me and Teyona got really close through the house. I just told [her] "You better go all the way and take the title, because it wasn't me so you so you better get it.
Aminat, I told her to give everybody a run for their money and to continue to be doing what she's doing and work hard and everything like that.
And I told the girls in my letter to [them] that I was gonna miss them! Just hanging around and joking with them (unintelligible).
Reality TV World: The show kinda made it seem like you were trying to come out of your shell the last few days you were there. Was that a conscious decision? Were you acting an different [than you had otherwise]?
Nijah: No, I wasn't! And that's funny too because a lot of people have said things to me after the first episode like "Are you gonna be more sociable?" or "Are you gonna be more talkative on the next episode?" and I'm like "I've been doing a whole lot of talking!" So that wasn't anything like that, I was just being me.
Reality TV World: It seemed like at least this week [Natalie, a 19-year-old student from Palos Verdes, CA] seemed to rub a few people the wrong way, how did you feel about her?
Nijah: Me and Natalie we really clicked, being that we were both from California so we already had that special bond like "Okay, we gotta make sure we stick together some kind of way." I didn't have any problem with Natalie whatsoever. We actually still talk today, and her bed was right next to my bed, so yeah, we got a long pretty fine.
Reality TV World: It also seemed like [Tahlia, an 18-year-old student from Phoenix, AZ] had hard time in the house this week, did you see any of that, or did you talk to her at all?
Nijah: Um, Natalie and Tahlia had their own little thing going on, and I just pulled Tahlia to the side and told her my opinion on the whole thing and how I felt about the situation. But at the same time I told her don't let [anybody] make it feel like it's time for you to go home, or don't let this break you down or anything because it's a competition and people will try to break you down regardless, because they want to get the title.
Also in the call, Harris told reporters whether or not she was expecting to go home, if she plans to pursue modeling post-Top Model, and who she thought was the messiest girl in the house while she lived there.
You were down to the final two where it was just you and [Allison, a 20-year-old artist from New Orleans, LA], did you have any sense about whether you were going home or not?
Nijah: I was not expecting to go home so early, but when I got down to the bottom two with Allison I wasn't really sure how it was gonna go down, like wow. Because they really like Allison (unintelligible) and she has had her picture called out first before, so I was like "Oh, wow (Laughs)."
What are you up to now? Are you going to continue pursuing modeling?
Nijah: Oh most definitely! I love modeling, that is my passion. Just the runway itself, ooh it gives me the chills just every time I think about it. Yes, I'm going to pursue modeling, even though I'm not in school right now I want to enroll next semester. I figure if [Tyra Banks] can go to UCLA and become a supermodel. than I can do it to.
What are you going to study?
Nijah: Probably nursing, I'm not exactly sure but yeah, I'll probably go into nursing school.
How did you feel about [Sandra, a 19-year-old student from Rockville, MD]?
Nijah: (Laughs) Not my favorite girl in the house. We did have our own little [disagreements] in the house, but I guess they weren't big enough to get shown on TV (Laughs). I don't know, my whole deal with her was that I was gonna let her know how I feel, and then after that I was not gonna keep discussing her. What is said is said and I don't think I need to keep going on and on about it.
Was modeling and walking on the runway harder to do when you're on a reality TV show with all the extra cameras, or is it just the same as any other time you're modeling?
Nijah: I actually think it's more intense! With cameras and all the people around. It's one thing when you're doing a photo shoot and not worried about if you're going to mess up and you're like "Okay whatever." But if you mess up on camera (Laughs) and everybody's watching you a few months later I'm like "Oh, whoa, okay..." So you do kinda keep that in the back of your mind, like "Okay, I really wanna make sure that I don't make myself look like a fool on TV one it all comes out."
Was it tough to live in a house with twelve other girls?
Nijah: Um, being that this is my first time away from home, and I'd never had roommates like that before, it was different. 13 girls and two bathrooms! It was ridiculous! We were constantly complaining, like "Clean up for yourself. Come on ladies, let's be responsible with our stuff." But after a while it was just kinda like "Hey, this is it, I just gotta take it."
Who was the messiest girl in the house?
Nijah: Oh... (Laughs) the messiest one in the house? Oh God, um, I'm probably gonna have to say [London, an 18-year-old student from Arlington, TX].