Exclusive: Allyssa Vuelma discusses her time on 'Top Model: College Edition'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/12/2012
Allyssa Vuelma was eliminated from America's Next Top Model: College Edition during The CW's broadcast of the nineteenth season's seventh episode last week.
Allyssa, a 5' 10 1/2" 20-year-old student from Fort Lauderdale, FL attending Florida State University, was ousted from the competition after she found herself in the bottom two based upon her total combined scores from the challenge, Top Model's three judges and home viewers' fan vote.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Allyssa talks about her America's Next Top Model: College Edition experience -- including how she summed up what it meant to her to be cast on Top Model, what she thought was behind Tyra Banks' emotional breakdown upon letting Allyssa go from the competition, why she had nothing but nice things to say about Victoria Henley, and which girl she insisted was her best friend in the house while on the show.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be eliminated at this stage in the competition? Were you expecting to make it all the way to the end?
Allyssa Vuelma: It's always a shock when you are eliminated; you always think it is too soon and have hindsight, bias and regrets but you have to look at it as a blessing because the hardest part of America's Next Top Model is getting into the house. Everything after that is a dream come true.
Reality TV World: Laura James has clearly been a frontrunner in the competition thus far and seemed to step up her game after Leila Goldkuhl got eliminated. When you landed in the bottom two besides Laura, what was going through your mind? Were you pretty convinced at that point you'd most likely be the one going home or did you think it was going to be another shocker like Leila's ouster had been?
Allyssa Vuelma: I knew I was going to be in the bottom two, and I'm sure Laura added up the points and had an idea as well. You never know what can happen on an America's Next Top Model panel! It was either going to be my biggest relief or I was going to go out next to one of the best.
Reality TV World: You made some funny comments during Friday night's episode, claiming that it didn't matter Laura kept winning challenges because you were confident in yourself to not let the results bother you. Did you really like Laura and were just making snarky comments because you were being competitive, or were you actually not really a fan of Laura?
Allyssa Vuelma: I actually got really close with many girls in the house. As for my competitiveness, my success comes first, obviously, but Laura and I are great friends!
Reality TV World: Up until this week's episode, Yvonne Powless had been the girl Top Model had seemed to be positioning as plus-size. But after her elimination, the focus of Friday night's episode seemed to suddenly shift on you and your "fiercely real" body, which viewers hadn't heard much about beforehand. So watching back this season, did you kind of feel you weren't edited much into the episodes and that the show seemed to wait to highlight your curvy body until after Yvonne was no longer in the picture? In other words, do you kind of feel like Yvonne maybe stole some of your storyline?
Allyssa Vuelma: I think that both Yvonne and I had different spotlights. I consider myself in the middle of plus and thin so the editing just mainly shows what drama is going on not necessarily what roles each model plays.
Reality TV World: During your photo shoot in which you were licking soda off the floor, creative consultant Johnny Wujek said he didn't see you as a high fashion model although you were pretty and had great curves. When you watched the episode back, did that surprise you and/or offend you? Why or why not?
Allyssa Vuelma: Surprise me yes, offend me no. I love Johnny to death, but what he said is just an opinion just like everyone is allowed to have. Johnny isn't the gate keeper to the fashion world so it's important to take everything with a grain of salt.
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Reality TV World: Tyra got emotional once she hugged you goodbye following your elimination -- which, if I can recall, certainly hasn't happened much on the show yet to date. There's obviously been curvy girls on the show before, basically at least one every season, so why do you think Tyra connected with you so much and got so invested in you in particular?
Allyssa Vuelma: We get one-on-one personal time with the judges each time we are called at panel. The editing only shows the dramatic scenes but we actually get to know the judges and talk to them about how we felt about the photo shoots and future. I consider myself very personable and relatable. Tyra and I connected because of our figure and the fact that we have been bullied but came out on top.
Reality TV World: Did it surprise you Tyra opened up like that and did you believe it was truly genuine emotion?
Allyssa Vuelma: Yes, I absolutely believe that Tyra was true to her emotion with me. No matter how famous someone is, if they have been bullied in the past it is easy to relate to someone else who has felt the same way, and it's a memory that can be forgiven but never forgotten. So for her to see me so sad and the last fiercely real girl in the house leave, she was able to pick me back up and give me hope.
Reality TV World: Going into the separate competition which featured the eliminated girls competing for one spot to come back, were you already extremely confident heading into it or did Tyra's emotional reaction help lift your spirits even more to succeed?
Allyssa Vuelma: She absolutely gave me inspiration going into the comeback series.
Reality TV World: Tyra gave you a score of eight during panel when critiquing your photo and said you deserved it because you basically accomplished the most disgusting feat of all the girls that day. But do you think that was the sole reason behind the eight points? Do you think she might've secretly been gunning for you to stay and therefore boosted your score up a bit?
Allyssa Vuelma: I agree with her score because I'm sure everyone can agree that I took the biggest risk. I gave something different to the shoot and even though some of the judges didn't like the photo, I loved it.
Reality TV World: What did you think of Victoria while you were on the show? She's certainly been standing out as quite the character this season nevermind the recent development on her eating habits. Also, do you think she could actually win the whole thing?
Allyssa Vuelma: Victoria is a very different person than I am, and even though we have grown up so differently, one thing that we all could relate to was the stress of the competition. She is certainly a great character and holds her values very close to her.
Although she was/is a spectacle to watch, she is one of the only people that was never involved in drama with the other girls and never really "sh*t-talked." She had her opinions just like everyone else.
Reality TV World: Towards the beginning of the season, Kristin Kagay was very controversial in that most of the girls in the house didn't seem to like her personality. However, in recent episodes, she seems to be coming around -- both in her behavior and modeling performance. What are your thoughts on that? Did she kind of grow on everybody or do you think the show's just been editing her recently in a more positive light?
Allyssa Vuelma: Kristin is my best friend from the show. She is not a bitch, even though she may have been portrayed that way in the beginning.
Reality TV World: Kristin started off getting the highest social media scores of the season and then Laura joined her at the top after a bit, as did Leila. And it seemed like Leila and Laura started getting high ratings after they both became blondes. Do you think it's a little predictable of America to have voted so highly for the blondes in the competition or do you think that's just a coincidence and those girls have deserved those high scores all along?
Allyssa Vuelma: A model is someone who can make anything look good. It would be so unfair to Kristin, Leila and Laura to say that their hair made their pictures better because it was their poses and skill that gave them great photos.
Reality TV World: While you were on the show, whom did you think had the most potential to win Top Model?
Allyssa Vuelma: I believe that Kristin, [Nastasia Scott], Laura and Victoria all have what it takes to win.
Reality TV World: Could you talk a little bit about your experience in the separate challenge competing against the eliminated girls without giving away who won?
Allyssa Vuelma: Being an eliminated girl put a lot of pressure on me to listen to my fans about what they wanted from me. They had really good feedback in the videos, which was surprising for everyone, so I was much more inclined to use their advice in my photos.
Reality TV World: Some viewers have commented that it seems like the judges just throw out random numbers when judging you girls, like whatever comes to the top of their heads. Do you feel that way? Do you think the judges throw out scores too carelessly and maybe didn't put enough thought into how that score could significantly affect which girl goes home?
Allyssa Vuelma: Sometimes I do believe that the scoring system can skew whether a girl deserves to go home or not. It makes it much more difficult for the judges to weigh in their personality and how they have been on the entire show. One bad week can literally have you packing.
Reality TV World: You mentioned you had no modeling experience prior to coming on the show. So how were you originally cast on America's Next Top Model? Did you apply or were you recruited?
Allyssa Vuelma: I applied and used every tip that Tyra has given aspiring models on previous cycles. I put 100% percent into all my applications and home videos and made sure the producers and judges remembered me.
Reality TV World: Was modeling always a passion of yours although you had no experience or did you see Top Model as a challenge to try something new and see if it could be the right career for you?
Allyssa Vuelma: It was a matter of great timing and risk taking. I've always wanted to be a part of the fashion world and trying out for America's Next Top Model gave me that opportunity.
Reality TV World: What's next for you? What are your plans for the near future, is modeling your top priority?
Allyssa Vuelma: Modeling, acting and hosting are my main goals for my future. I hope to be in front of the camera once again and this time I definitely won't let go. I plan on moving to Los Angeles or New York and would love to intern within the next year with a magazine company or fashion line, working my way up. I am in school right now but hopefully next semester everything will be set in stone.