Exclusive: Allison Harvard talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/13/2011
Allison Harvard finished America's Next Top Model's first-ever all-stars edition as the runner-up, losing to champion Lisa D'Amato during last Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW reality competition's seventeenth-season finale.
On Thursday, the 23-year-old who previously appeared on Top Model's twelfth season, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including what she knows about Angelea Preston's largely unexplained disqualification and how she responded to rumors claiming that she was actually the third-place finisher, how badly she wanted to win the competition despite her competitors' insisting she had no passion for modeling and cared little about the prize package, and why she originally decided to give Top Model another shot.
Below is the first portion of our exclusive interview with Allison. Check back with Reality TV World on Wednesday for the second half.
Reality TV World: How confident were you before the winner was announced that you were going to be crowned America's Next Top Model's All Star? After hearing everything the judges had to say during the panel critiques, did you think Lisa was more likely to win or no?
Allison Harvard: Actually, I went into panel not really knowing. I mean, in Cycle 12, I had like mad intuition about knowing that [Teyona Anderson] won, but this time, I was like, "It's really anyone's game, I guess." But once I started to hear the critiques or whatever -- I mean, there's so much you guys don't get to hear.
They talked for quite a bit longer than what was actually aired -- so I just really felt like it was pretty obvious, maybe, after hearing their critique and they just kept going on about my eyes, I guess. So, it was just kind of like beating a dead horse at that point. I was like, "Ughh, what are you gonna do?!" You can hope for the best, but that's all you can do.
Reality TV World: You mentioned before Tyra Banks revealed the winner that you really didn't want to be the runner-up again. You felt you did everything you could to the best of your abilities and seemingly felt it was enough to escape second place. So what was that like for you to be the runner-up in both of your cycles? Was it really frustrating and disheartening because you had gotten so close both times but didn't win the prizes or do you see making it that far both seasons as a positive thing?
Allison Harvard: I mean, of course when you go into a competition like this, you really want to win. I especially, whenever it started to be less and less girls, I really was hoping that I might be able to win this time. I definitely did the best I could, so I have no regrets in retrospect, but I feel like I definitely dug my own grave in saying that comment.
It was kind of funny to actually hear it. I forgot that I had said it, but you know, it is what it is. I got to go to Greece and I made really cool friends and I got to have ridiculous experiences, so life's not so bad.
Reality TV World: You didn't seem to get emotional after Tyra told Lisa she had won the competition. You smiled, hugged Lisa and said you were happy for her. What was going through your mind at that point? Were you kind of relieved the stress of the competition was over or would you say maybe winning the competition just wasn't extremely important to you after all?
Allison Harvard: I definitely would have love to win it. It would have been different from my first experience, but you can't let something like this be earth-shattering to you. You don't stop living. You go back to your life and you choose what you want to do with it from there.
I'm still very motivated to be productive and still work in fashion and still be creative and utilize all of the outlets that I have available to me. So, it's not -- it's definitely not the end. But I am happy for Lisa, you know? As I said, I would have loved to have won, but I am happy for her. And who knows, that's just how it turned out. So, it's not like I can dwell on it.
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Reality TV World: It sounds like you want to pursue many things in your career at this point, would you say that modeling is a priority for you in the near future or are you more focused on other things?
Allison Harvard: You know, if it works out where by chance I am able to model, I'm always up for doing that. I always love doing projects. I very much enjoy it, so if it turns out that that's something I am able to do, then I would absolutely love to. It is just one of the few things that I am going to choose to focus on. With all that being said, I'm just saying that it's not the only thing.
Reality TV World: Some of the girls this season criticized your passion for modeling and even stated that you hate runway modeling. What's your response to that and would you say their comments are accurate at all?
Allison Harvard: I do love to model. Perhaps I didn't make it seem like it was the all-end for me like, "Oh, if I don't model, what will I do!?" No, that's not the case, you know? For me, I enjoy modeling, but it's certainly not something -- it's a tough industry.
You typically can't do it forever, so it's good to have other outlets that you can pour your energy into. But runway is not my favorite -- even though I'm so good at it. Kidding. (Laughs) I really do love runway, I love watching runway, I love going to runway shows. I think it's fabulous.
I just get so much anxiety about it. If I could somehow let go of that, then I'm sure I would enjoy it a lot more, but I just get so anxious. But I mean, I do love modeling and I think that's the misconception -- people think, "Oh, you don't care about it." It's just not my whole world.
Reality TV World: Just to clarify then, why exactly did you choose to go on America's Next Top Model? How badly did you want to win the prizes and how much of your decision to compete in the competition was based on other things such as gaining exposure?
Allison Harvard: Well, exposure is really, really nice, but like I said, I love the adventure of it. I do enjoy it. I do enjoy the photo shoots and the modeling and it's such a bizarre world that you get to participate in, and it's kind of neat because I get to be a chapter in your life and I'm grateful for that.
The way that the show was initially pitched to us was, "Whatever you've been working on post your original cycle, we'll incorporate that somehow into the new season of Top Model and it will be more about branding."
So it wasn't pitched to me like it was going to be a show just about modeling, and so I kind of felt like that was a curious proposal and I was at a time in my life where I could leave my current life and go on this adventure, which was really great. But turns out, it was pretty much the exact same show with the exception of a few challenges, (laughs) but I factored that into the equation.
Reality TV World: There's been more headlines about Angelea's disqualification than there has been about Lisa's win. How and when did you find out about Angelea's disqualification and what was your reaction when you found out?
Allison Harvard: I found out not too far from whenever the show finished wrapping and I am Angelea's biggest fan. She has such a good heart and I wish it would have shown us having all of our fun, ridiculous moments, because we are so immature.
We had such a wonderful time together, but my heart went out for her whenever she told me about it and then I heard about it. It was a competition, but you don't wish that upon anyone in a fair turnout of things. It was just really unfortunate and I just felt sad for her.
Reality TV World: So when a disqualification happens, exactly how does that work? The CW came out and said the end of Top Model's finale was re-shot, so is it a situation kind of like Miss America where someone is disqualified, everyone basically moves up one slot in the finishing order?
Allison Harvard: You know, I don't really know quite how they -- how their behind the scenes, Wizard of Oz-type process actually happened. I mean, I have my own guesses on it, but we're not supposed to get that much into the production part of it.
But you know, from what I've seen from Top Model, that was the first time that anything like that has ever happened. So, I think it was kind of like a new thing for everybody. We were all caught really off-guard.
Reality TV World: So in your opinion then, do you think you actually finished in third place but ended up being second when she got disqualified and then Lisa also got bumped up to first place?
Allison Harvard: Yeah. (Laughs) I mean, I think no matter how it turned out, I never won. That's for sure. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Do you have any idea why she Angelea was disqualified and what the reasoning behind that was?
Allison Harvard: Yes, but it's definitely a personal and private thing that really had to do with Angelea and out of respect for her, I'm not going to get into it.
Reality TV World: The judges seemed to know all of you girls very well. So would you say maybe the judges picked Lisa over you in the end because they knew you weren't as invested in a modeling career as she was? Lisa made it clear numerous times throughout the season how badly she wanted to win the competition as well, so I don't know if you thought that played a big role.
Allison Harvard: I feel like we could talk about wanting to win as much as you want to talk about wanting to win. The way I express myself is just perhaps different than others would express it.
I mean, we all express ourselves differently with what we want and what's important to us, and by my being there and doing the best that I could in challenges and going through this whole thing with everyone, we all went through it and I felt like I displayed in my own way that I also did really want to win. But I'm also -- I don't know.
However much I said about wanting to win was however much I was comfortable with and I felt was relevant to me. So, as I said, we all express ourselves differently and I just feel like sometimes it was harder for the judges to find things I said at panel endearing because I constantly tried to explain myself better.
I felt like they didn't quite understand who I was as a person or if I was genuine or not -- not genuine or not -- but sincere in wanting to be there. But you know, I guess it is what it is! I hope that made sense, I'm sorry. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Yes it did. (Laughs) So from your perspective, why do you think Lisa did end up winning? Do you think it was a personality thing or certain characteristics in her modeling performance? Because it seemed like the judges preferred your CoverGirl commercial over Lisa's and you had won the Extra correspondent challenge earlier this season and everything.
Allison Harvard: I don't. I just don't know what I could have done without anyone else being factored into the equation. I personally don't know what I could have done to make them like me more or want me to win. I don't, for the life of me, either know what I did wrong or what I could have done better.
I just know I did my best and with Lisa factored into the equation, the beauty of it is, is that we are both so different. So, if they chose her over me, they clearly wanted something different than me. We're both just completely different in terms of what we have to offer.