Ousted 'Top Model 9' finalist Kimberly Leemans: "I was robbed"
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/05/2007
Kimberly Leemans described participating in America's Next Top Model's ninth season as an "amazing, amazing experience" -- however the 20-year-old student from Ocala, FL also believes she didn't get a fair shake during The CW reality competition series -- causing her to become the second girl cut.
"For the photo shoots and everything with [Top Model art director Jay Manuel], I didn't get any advice for the first two photo shoots until after the second photo shoot was done. So I didn't learn anything until after the second photo shoot was done," explained Leemans to reporters during a Thursday conference call.
"I hate to go home without being able to show you what I learned and I got sent home anyway. That's why I felt like I was robbed, in a sense that I didn't get any chance to show that I improved because I never got any critiquing in the first place. That was kind of crappy."
Leemans was eliminated at the conclusion of Wednesday night's broadcast following a rock wall climbing-themed photo shoot. She felt that after "millions of different poses" Manuel picked the one "where I look crunched up in a ball taking a crap in midair" for her to be judged on, adding she thought there were "absolutely" better frames of her from the photo shoot that led to her ouster.
"I really feel like they picked the worst picture for me to get me out," Leemans explained. "I was kind of bummed about that but I felt like that's the way they could kick me out, by picking one of my worst pictures. So I definitely felt like that was unfair."
She places the blame for her elimination on Manuel.
"I definitely wish I would have gotten more critiques from Day 1 from [Manuel]," she continued. "I was definitely looking forward to meeting him -- he was one of the ones I wanted to meet the most -- so he's the one that I'm most disappointed about because he didn't help me at all."
Leemans said her participation in Top Model 9 as an aspiring runway walker wasn't her first attempt to be on the show.
"I auditioned last year for Cycle 8, and I didn't even get past the whole first-day thing," she said. "It was pretty bad, but I auditioned for it this year. I sent in a video and I got a call back saying that the casting directors wanted to see me. So I went own to Miami... Then I got a phone call from [Top Model creator Tyra Banks] saying that she wanted me to be in the semi-finals."
She explained that it was some subtle changes that led to her eventual casting for the show.
"My first time around, I definitely wasn't physically ready. So once I got denied the first time, I really, really, really wanted to make it the second time, so I started working out more and changed my diet," said Leemans. "I had this really nasty blonde hair, so I went back to my natural color, which is brown. I was a little bit more prepared. I wasn't as nervous. I just was more natural."
During Top Model 9'spremiere broadcast, Leemans commented how she didn't want to befriend Heather -- a 21-year-old college student from Valparaiso, IN who suffers from Asperger's, a mild form of Autism that hinders her social interaction and verbal communication -- because she was afraid Heather would "cling" to her.
"I've been getting hell for what I said on the show. Honestly, looking back on it and everything, I don't regret anything I said because everything I said is what I meant and I felt like it was the truth," she explained. "But the way that they had portrayed it, it was a group discussion where everybody was talking about everything."
Leemans said her mom works with handicapped kids at a public school, so she's been around people with special needs her whole life.
"That's why I made the statement about people clinging and stuff because I've been around different personalities like that," she continued. "Heather and I were really good friends, and they showed me like back-stabbing her in a sense, which hurt my feelings and then everyone thinks I'm a heartless bitch because of what I said. She's a good girl, but in the real world I don't think that she'd be able to make it... She's not independent in that sense. But in this show -- to give kids motivation -- I think it's a definite wonderful step."
Leemans was a member of this week's bottom two along with Bianca, an 18-year-old college student from Queens, NY. However she said she expected Ebony, a 20-year-old nursing student from Chicago, IL, to be there instead of either she or Bianca.
"[Ebony's] whole attitude at the house seemed to be going down, like she didn't really want to be there anymore," said Leemans. "She was just kind of fed-up with that. The [Top Model judging] panel saw that in person, so I thought that would have been a real negative point on her. But [photographer and Top Model judge Nigel Barker] is in love with her and I guess you win over one judge, you win over most of them. That kind of sucked... I felt robbed."
Leemans said something else that might have contributed to her boot was how Banks commented how she couldn't stop thinking of her audition photo, which she described as "hoochy."
"I was definitely shocked by it... I guess she just kept that audition picture in my mind... I don't know," said Leemans. "I thought modeling was supposed to be sexy and provocative to a sense, but I definitely didn't feel like I showed any kind of overt sexiness."
Leemans' lack of modeling experience also hurt her, but she said she felt it was "unfair" that Saleisha, a 21-year-old receptionist from Los Angeles, CA who has won both reward challenges, is allowed to participate because she has previous modeling experience.
During Wednesday night's broadcast, Leemans and some of the other girls talked with Saleisha about it, explaining how they always thought the show was about "amateurs."
"It just got all ghetto and we started getting in each other's faces and making unnecessary insults," said Leemans, adding Chantal, a 19-year-old student from Austin, TX, also got involved and verbally "attacked" Bianca, which wasn't shown on air. "It was just a big blow out. It sucked because it screwed up the house really bad... It definitely split up the girls into two different camps. It was Team Bianca, Team Saleisha and Chantal... that was kind of s**tty."
Leemans said she felt she "did everything that I could have done from the critiques that I got" and is looking forward to furthering her career.
"I'm open for anything," she said. "I hope this opens every door for modeling, acting, even activism because I'm really big in the Humane Society. I would love to have them give me a bigger voice to spread the word about the Humane Society."
However don't expect Leemans to appear in any other reality shows because she doesn't want to "embarrass" herself on television.
"Top Model is definitely the only one that I will ever do, unless they want to do The Kim Show and follow me getting to the top on my own," she said. "That's fine. I'm up for it."