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

'Top Model' quitter Ebony Morgan: I was so over the whole reality thing


By Christopher Rocchio, 10/26/2007 

America's Next Top Model's contestant Ebony Morgan has no regrets about her decision to quit the show's ninth season.

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"I just did not want to be there anymore.  I really didn't have a desire for it.  At that point, I didn't really care about being America's Next Top Model," Morgan told reporters during a Thursday conference call.  "I didn't really care half as much as the other girls did, so I didn't think it would be fair for me to stay there if I really didn't care for it as much...  I just realized that wasn't my passion and I was so over the whole reality show thing."

The 20-year-old Chicago, IL nursing student's decision to quit Top Model 9 had also apparently been on her mind for quite some time.

"The decision I made was not a spur-of-the-moment type of thing.  It was something I was thinking about, probably for two weeks before I did what I did," she said.  "I discussed it with Lisa, and Lisa told me I shouldn't do it.  She told me I should wait it out and see how far I make it."

In addition, Morgan added she was afraid of how she'd be perceived if she did quit.

"For a minute, I was worried what people might say.  I was really mostly worried about what my father might say.  I didn't want my father to be disappointed in me and so that's mainly the reason why I stayed as long as I did," she explained.  "But then after a while, I just told myself, 'You're not happy.'  Why stay in a situation where you're not happy?  So I wanted to be true and real with myself -- not worry about other people think -- and that's why I decided to do what I did."

The further Morgan made it in the competition, the more she was also able to prioritize the important things in her life.

"Probably the most important thing I learned is family is so important.  Money isn't everything," she said.  "Before coming on the show, I was the most shallow and materialistic person... Here I am [on the show], in this $15 million house surrounded by the most lavish things, and I wasn't happy.  All I could think of was my family... I was wondering if they missed me because I certainly missed them.  I learned that family is so important."

Despite her desire to leave, Morgan assured reporters that she never purposely failed at a photo shoot.

"I went into the photo shoots trying to give it a bang every week," she said.  "Sometimes I failed at that -- but no -- there wasn't a time when I went into the photo shoot intentionally not trying to do well."

Morgan wasn't the first Top Model contestant to quit the competition, as fifth-season runway wannabe Cassandra Whitehead also opted out.  However Whitehead made her decision prior to going in-front of the judges, while Morgan made it be known she wanted out after Top Model creator Tyra Banks had already revealed she was safe for at least another week. 

"The most unattractive thing in the world to me is a quitter -- and for that -- you can go," Banks told Morgan at the conclusion of Wednesday night's Top Model 9 broadcast.

"When she called me a quitter, I was a little upset by it," said Morgan during the Thursday interview.  "But after a while, I realized people are entitled to their own opinions.  She thinks I'm a quitter, that's fine.  In a sense I did quit, so in a sense I am a quitter."

Somewhat surprisingly, Morgan auditioned for Top Model two times before finally being cast on her third try.  She said it was her father -- a printer with The Chicago Tribune -- who encouraged her to audition for the third time.

"He talked me into going down and trying out for it.  So I went and tried out for it and I made it onto the show!" she said. 

However once she was actually in the competition, Morgan said it was different than what she expected.

"I think it was just a reality show.  From watching the show, I thought it would be something totally different.  Only later, I found it was totally different from what I thought it would be," she explained.  "I really missed my family -- I was extremely homesick -- and I never got use to the cameras following us around 24/7 and the microphones... I just wasn't comfortable."

Morgan elaborated that she found the constant presence of cameramen as "annoying" but added she tried to create a personality for them that she figured would get her more time on the show.

"Going into the competition I thought, 'This is a reality show.  So they're going to want a drama queen.'  So I created that person, and was later confronted by Tyra about it, which I totally deserved because I was out of control!" recalled Morgan.  "I told myself if I were to make it back to the house [after the judging panel], I was just going to be myself.  I was myself in the house, and I got along with the girls... That's one thing I regret.  I wish I would have stayed myself throughout the competition."

Her experience wasn't a total wash, as Morgan said the best piece of advice she received was to smile more.

"Before going on the show I never really smiled," she said.  "I didn't realize how silly I looked until watching the show.  I can't stoop smiling now.  I'm just so happy."

While she may have smiled more once the shortcoming was pointed out to her, Morgan still appeared to always be agitated at the judging panels.  But she said that wasn't the case.

"In the house, I was joyful and happy, but for some reason they didn't show that footage," she said.  "Going into [the judging panels] for some reason, I never felt comfortable.  I didn't feel as if I could be myself... and so it showed.  They described it as [having an] attitude -- but from watching the show -- it's screaming out nervousness.  I was just really nervous for some reason... I just couldn't relax."

Following her decision to quit as well as her exit statement at the conclusion of Wednesday night's broadcast, The CW aired Morgan's ninth-season audition video, in which she gushed about wanting to appear on the show.

"It was sad!  When they showed it I cried," she said of seeing the footage on Wednesday night.  "It was like I passed away.  The funeral music, slowing it down when I walked away... It was sad.  I teared up... I was waiting for them to show the 'Rest in Peace.' I was surprised when they showed [my audition].  They didn't do that with any of the other girls."

Despite being labeled by Banks as a quitter, Morgan said was met with open arms when she returned home and explained what happened.

"A lot of people are very supportive of the decision I made," she said.  "I spoke to my father after the show.  He was like, 'You're still my America's Next Top Model.'  A lot of people are supporting my decision.  They're happy for me even having made it that far.  It's a really big thing."

Morgan said she's currently studying nursing at Chicago State University, but hasn't completely abandoned her desire to be a model.

"I'm definitely interested in modeling," she said.  "I'm not sure if I want to make a career out of it.  Nursing right now is my passion and I'm in school right now studying that.  But maybe things may change later down the line."

In hindsight, Morgan said she now knows appearing on Top Model probably wasn't the best idea.

"I don't think I would have tried out if I had known a lot of things I learned from being on the show," she said.

(Photo credit The CW)


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