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HOME > America's Next Top Model > America's Next Top Model 8

INTERVIEW: Whitney Cunningham talks about her 'Top Model' journey


By Belinda Trotter-James, 04/16/2007 

This full figured beauty is not so big after all.  Whitney stands 5 feet ten inches tall, weighing 165 pounds and she is a size 8.  Whitney says she represents the average size woman.  Hmmm… that's not what Tyra and her cast of judges are calling it. 

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On Tyra's talk show she had real full figured woman that started at a size 14.  They had attitude, they could walk, and were very photogenic and beautiful.  Tyra knows if any of the size 14 plus got on top model, it would be a done deal and the show would be ruined for having a full figured model as the winner.  The fashion industry is not ready to receive big girls on major runways.  Whitney has a bubbly, happy personality and I had a very pleasant conversation.  Read on so you can see what Miss Whitney had to say...

QUESTION:  The shoots sound easy to do, look easy to do but when it was time to actually perform, the fire was not there.  Please comment.

WHITNEY:  What the viewers must understand is that this is a reality TV show and it is different being in front of the camera on a television show than just being in the studio at a photo shoot.  When Tacara was on the show they kept telling her that she lost her fire and did not seem comfortable.  So, when I came on the show, I knew I had to be 'ON' and over the top all the time.  Modeling is easy to me and I always walk away with a lot of pictures to choose from for my portfolio.  On the show I had a problem trying to  get to the middle ground; not too much or little energy.

Note to readers:  This sounds like a bunch of excuses to me but on the other hand we don't know what the producers did in the editing room to make her appear like she did not have enough confidence to get her through the shoot.  Whether you are on a TV show or in a studio there are three common factors: You, the camera and the photographer.  No excuses; just good  photos.

QUESTION:  Why do you think you were eliminated from the show?

WHITNEY:  They kept saying over and over again that my photos did not translate my beauty on film.  I was so shocked that I was in the bottom two again.  At the last shoot Mr. Jay said, "You finally know what it means to be a model."  He just kept saying how well I progressed and you know Tyra always looks for progression.  So, I went into the elimination confident that I made it this far and would be traveling oversees with the girls and not going home.

Note to readers:  If Mr. Jay was one of the judges, I guess I would be a little confident.  However, what he says to the girls is totally different from what comes out on film.

QUESTION:  You mentioned on the show that you owe your father for tuition.  Please tell us the story.

WHITNEY:  I auditioned for cycle 7 and did not make it.  My father told me to try out again but I was not sure if I would get chosen again and wanted to apply for school.  If I did not make the cut again, it would be too late to register for school.   My dad kept telling me to wait, but it was my senior year in college and I wanted to go back.  Then I got a call from the producers that they remembered me auditioning for cycle 7 and wanted me to meet with the producers for cycle 8.    So I dropped out in the middle of the semester.

QUESTION:  It is so funny how things work out.  I know you were wondering how to get money to pay back your father and what falls in your lap… a beautiful diamond charm bracelet.  The prize you won from the laser challenge.  Please describe it.   (I was kidding about selling her prize to pay her father back and she laughed and answered :)

WHITNEY:  It's a beautiful platinum charm bracelet with and envelope charm that says, 'love Tyra'; it has a shooting star, yellow diamonds and a shoe with pink diamonds.  I'm not going to sell it.  More things will be coming my way and I will find another way to pay my father off.

QUESTION:  Did the girls ever make you feel you were not a legitimate model?

WHITNEY:  I struggled the entire time.  Society always looks for the stick skinny women and says they are legitimate models.  That's why Tyra looks for women with strong personalities.  I am comfortable and confident about my size.  I have a positive self image about my size 8.  I'm 5'10" and 165 lbs.  I have big boobs and thighs.  I carry my weight very well because I have an athletic build from playing basketball.

Note to readers:  Tyra was not looking too hard for strong personalities because all of her full figured girls were mentally frustrated and never made it to the final four.

QUESTION:  Are you still on a basketball team?

WHITNEY:  I quit playing basketball in my junior year.  We went to the finals and I have a championship ring. In my senior year I was called for top model.  The call came just in time.  I graduate in June and will definitely go to New York to pursue a career in modeling and acting.

Note to readers:  You know, it can also be frustrating for the fans who cheer for contestants only to be disappointed when they lose their fire.  It's not as easy as it looks especially if  you don't have the "it" factor naturally.  Good luck to Whitney and her journey at earning a living as a model.

Meet me here next week to see who will be the next contestant to loose a chance at becoming America's Next Top Model.  Email me at modeldigest@aol.com  or visit www.warmspirit.org/Beautybyreferral.

(Photo credit The CW)


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