Ousted 'Top Model' Janet Mills: More drama would have kept me there
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/19/2007
Janet Mills believes she wasn't dramatic enough as an America's Next Top Model ninth-season runway wannabe, a factor that the 22-year-old aesthetician from Bainbridge, GA feels contributed to her elimination during Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW series.
"I think mainly a lot of it has to do with television. All of us obviously have the potential to be models -- they chose 13 girls out of 30,000 -- so there's definitely a place in the modeling industry for us," Mills told reporters during a Thursday conference call.
"But I really kept to myself a lot. I was still dealing with the fact that I was separated from my boyfriend, who was deployed for the war in the Middle East, so that weighed heavily on me. But more than that, I just wanted to have a certain reputation with-in the modeling industry after the show's over. I want people to know I'm serious about it and that it's very important to me... I didn't cause a lot of drama... Maybe if I was a little more dramatic or stirred up a little more trouble in the house, they would have kept me around longer."
Mills added it's really difficult to say if she would change anything about her Top Model journey, but is glad she came across as the way she did.
"I definitely wouldn't have been more dramatic or caused more drama in the house because I'm happy with the maturity level that I portrayed there and showed that I'm serious about what I want to do and I'm easy to work with," she explained.
While she's glad the show is more eco-friendly this season and also banned the cast from smoking -- since she recently quit the habit -- Mills thinks Top Model still needs to attack what she sees as a more serious issue.
"I think the biggest change that Top Model could do is focus less on the drama of the girls and more on the actual aspect of modeling and the work that goes into it and things you should learn," she said. "Just the whole process of becoming a better model and each girls' progress. I think the show would be a little more successful, because I feel like The CW network thinks the most important things are that the ratings come from the drama... I think if The CW network followed each girl and really stayed true to the industry -- instead of catching all the crap in-between -- I think it would be a better look for The CW and all the younger viewers."
Mills added she might have been eliminated from the competition because the judging panel wasn't "too satisfied with my photo shoot," but she actually thinks she "progressed pretty well each week."
Despite not having the best photo shoot, Mills said some of the other girls -- specifically Bianca, an 18-year-old college student from Queens, NY -- also had poor shoots but remained in the competition. She thinks it might have something to due with the drama Bianca created on the show.
"I don't like the character Bianca portrays, especially as a role-model for girls," she said. "Young girls definitely watchAmerica's Next Top Model... It's not only girls our age that watch it. [Bianca's] one way in-front of the [judging] panel, and then she's another way and she's constantly trying to bring people down. Maybe she will progress, and maybe she does a great job... But I wish she was the next to go."
Mills said she's watched "many cycles" of Top Model, adding she's also friends with Mollie Sue Steenis, who was the fifth girl eliminated from Top Model's sixth season.
"That really inspired me," she said.
Mills said she knows Steenis because both girls have lived in the Tampa, FL-area in recent years. She said her boyfriend as well as Steenis' husband -- who was her fiance on the Spring 2006 edition of the show -- worked together at a bar on the weekends. Mills added Steenis recently signed with Elite Modeling Agency, attended New York Fashion Week festivities and has also done shows in London and Milan.
"Mollie Sue is definitely living out the dream and what could become of you if you are America's Next Top Model," said Mills. "I didn't get to speak to her a whole bunch because she was out of the country. She just said, 'Do the best you can -- and if you win or lose -- the opportunities are endless for you.' She's shown that."
Mills added her boyfriend also played a big role in her auditioning for Top Model.
"He got deployed to the Middle East, and I had a lot of time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and myself," she said. "So I hired a personal trainer, got my body in great shape, and went to the open [casting] call in Miami... All the aspects of modeling and all the behind-the-scenes are just really interesting to me... It's just really been a dream come true."
Feeling the "sadness" of not being able to see her boyfriend and knowing he would be returning from the Middle East during filming for the show, Mills said being a Top Model participant made her realize what's really important.
"I actually learned that even though I was surrounded by a $12 million house and all these lavish things, I really love family and the reality of my life so much," she explained. "I definitely second-guessed and stopped myself from doing a handful things on the account of, 'Would my family be proud of me?' So I became a lot more selfless, just try to help the girls have a more relaxing experience there, kind of as a 'house mom.'"
Her disposition wasn't lost on some of the other girls, who openly referred to Mills as the "house mom."
"I've been in a part of my life where I didn't respect or acknowledge the wonderful things that were blessed upon me," said Mills. "I'm the oldest girl in the house there -- I mean 22 is not old -- but I've experienced a lot of things in my life, and I've been very fortunate. You should respect other things and other people... I wanted everybody to respect themselves and other people. I mean that house wasn't ours and it's not The CW's either. We were really blessed to be in a place like that. I can be the house mom. That's okay!"
Mills said her fondest memory from the show came during the semifinal round of casting when she made an impression of Top Model creator Tyra Banks.
"The highlight of the show for me has to be when I simulated the Brazilian wax for Tyra on the cruise ship," said Mills with a laugh. "It was awesome because very few people know what goes on in an aesthetician's life... It's fun to add a bit of humor to what you do. It was great that Tyra put herself out there and climbed up there and interacted with me and put herself on my level even though she's so much more advanced and so much more successful."
The judging panel also constantly compared Mills to Liza Minelli.
"I've never gotten that. Never in my life," said Mills.
She has a few favorites still in the house, such as Chantal, a 19-year-old student from Austin, TX who she described as having a "high-fashion" look; as well as Lisa, a 20-year-old dancer from Jersey City, NJ, who is "such a great person" and "very genuine."
However Mills feels 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, could be considered the front runner.
"[The judges] love Heather, so there's that I guess," commented Mills. "I don't know how she'll be as a spokesperson for CoverGirl since her social skills aren't as good as another person. But that's just Heather. That's okay. That's great. Heather's done an amazing job for who she is and what she has to battle with."
As for Mills' own career, she said she hopes participating in Top Model has opened several doors.
"I definitely would love to be a model," she said. "I learned a bit there, got my feet wet. There's just so many opportunities that are going to come out of this experience for me. I would also love to look into acting, just check-out the whole entertainment industry."