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HOME > America's Next Top Model > America's Next Top Model 9

Ousted 'Top Model 9' finalist Mila: Photo shoot was no laughing matter


By Christopher Rocchio, 09/28/2007 

Despite her short stint as an America's Next Top Model contestant, 20-year-old Mila said she still learned a valuable lesson.

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"I think during the photo shoot it's very important to convey an emotion and not to just concentrate on how you look," Mila told reporters during a Thursday conference call.  "The smoking photo shoot was very important to convey the tragedy of what happens after smoking and the emotion of glamour in the first beauty shot."

Unfortunately, Mila was unable to convey either of those emotions during Top Model's first ninth-season photo shoot, which saw the 13 girls having two photos taken:  one glamorous photo of them smoking a cigarette and another that illustrated the negative impact smoking has.  Both images were then combined into a compilation shot, which they would be judged on. 

For her glamorous shot, Top Model judge J. "Ms. J" Alexander said it looked like Mila was lifting her leg to fart, while fellow judge Nigel Barker commented his problem was that her body was awkward and her eyes weren't focused.  To make matters worse,  Mila donned a bald wig to illustrate the hair-loss that can be caused by chemotherapy treatment --and despite the seriousness of the issue -- she couldn't stop laughing.

"The photo shoot itself was not funny at all.  It was just that all the girls, when we were all hanging out, we were just making each other laugh," explained Mila.  "It wasn't the photo shoot I was laughing at at all.  The make-up artists were just cracking jokes.  The photo shoot itself was absolutely not funny.  It's just that what we were doing was.  They just showed me laughing, not what was happening to make me laugh."

It didn't get much better for Mila during the first judging panel, when Top Model creator and judge Tyra Banks thought Mila "wasn't absorbing" any of the critiques they had just given her.

"I was definitely listening.  I was a little surprised when I heard them say that because I was definitely nodding my head and saying, 'Okay.  I understand,'" said Mila.  "Maybe my expression on my face, it was definitely blank.  I think that's because the whole situation was very stressful and I was trying to deal with it in my own way.  But I was definitely listening to the judges' criticisms and suggestions."

With her poor performance at the photo shoot combined with what the judges deemed to be her lack of receptiveness to their comments, Mila became the first girl booted from Top Model 9.

"It all did happen very fast," she said of her journey on The CW reality competition series.  "I got the opportunity to do one photo shoot and we did one challenge.  So it did happen very fast, but it was the judges' opinions if they felt that I should have gone first then it's okay."

The Boston native said that she modeled when she was younger, but became a Top Model 9 contestant somewhat serendipitously.

"I didn't actually ever want to audition," she said.  "I met one of the casting associates just when I was out one night, and he said stop by the auditions.  I did, and I just met the main casting director and got cast and the rest is history."

Mila also offered comment on fellow Top Model 9 contestant 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. 

"I think Heather's disability -- on the show -- it seems very bad because it's edited," explained Mila.  "I mean her worst moments are her most awkward moments, but really I think Heather was just a normal person.  She was just difficult to get to know, but once you did get to know her, she was great."

Unlike some of the other girls, Mila said she gave Heather a fair shake.

"I think whenever people come across a person they've never dealt with before or a condition that they've never dealt with before, that's just what happens," she said.  "I hope the girls do warm-up to her eventually, because once you get to know her she's a great girl."

Mila is currently studying economics as a graduate student at Fordham University, but hasn't completely given up on modeling.

"We'll see what comes up.  I hope to figure out what I'm doing," she said.

(Photo credit The CW)


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