Exclusive: AzMarie Livingston dishes on 'Top Model: British Invasion'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/18/2012
AzMarie Livingston, a 5' 9 3/4" 24-year-old from Milwaukee, WI, became the sixth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model: British Invasion during last Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Thursday, AzMarie talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model: British Invasion experience and how she felt about her decision to decline participating in the "booty tooch" activity with Tyra Banks ultimately causing to her elimination -- including whether she admitted to having a bit of an ego or argued she was misunderstood, what she disagreed with Tyra on when it came to the reasoning behind her bold move to walk out of an activity, whether she assumed she'd be the one going home over Kyle when they both landed in the bottom two or believed she was definitely safe, and who she said were her biggest competition while on the show.
Reality TV World: What was going through your mind when you landed in the bottom two with Kyle prior to your elimination? Did you think you were golden because although you had the issue with Tyra you had done so well in the competition up to that point, or did you really think you were in trouble and could go home?
AzMarie Livingston: I knew I was going home. I didn't, in my mind, I made sure I didn't have it in there of, "Oh, you know, I've been doing this well. She's going to keep me." No, I didn't have that at all. I knew, because I was like, "Hey, if I was in her position, I probably would have done the same thing."
And if you did look at the show and this particular episode, I mean, they really are critiquing you only for that episode -- for that which you have done in that episode. So, I just knew that once I had said I wasn't going to do it, I was like, "I'm going home."
I like knew she was going to send me home, but at this point, I'm just like, "Just get through everything else." And that's where my mind was when I was at the bottom two. I was like, "Oh, I knew it." I was looking over at the girls on the side like, "I'm going home." And they're like, "No, you're not!" And I'm like, "Oh, I'm going home." And then it happened.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you weren't really surprised then that they didn't give you a second chance, right? Because frequently on Top Model, girls make mistakes all the time and Tyra normally reprimands them and explains what they did wrong or should change, but then she allows them to stay in the competition by giving them another shot. So you didn't think that could be you?
AzMarie Livingston: No, I didn't. I didn't think that. Yeah, I just knew. Everything in me and my intuition told me when I decided and said I wasn't going to wear the "butt enhance pad" and she said then I couldn't participate in learning how to tooch and that I had to leave the room, I was like -- as soon as I left, I was like, "Yup, that's it." I was like, "At this point, I'm going home." So I was like, "Just make sure you get through it."
Reality TV World: So looking back, do you think Tyra actually accepted your apology or no? Some viewers have said that if Tyra really accepted it, she would've let you stay in the competition because there wasn't really another good reason to send you home, so do you think that had something to do with your elimination?
AzMarie Livingston: No, I didn't say the apology to get saved. I said the apology so that when I did get sent home, if I do ever cross paths with Tyra again in the future, that at least I did apologize in saying that I didn't mean it to be a slap in the face and I didn't do it to disrespect you. The decision I made was just because I felt uncomfortable doing what she wanted and it got me sent home. That stuff happens sometimes, you know?
Reality TV World: During panel critiques for your music videos, Tyra told you that when you refused to participate in the booty tooch session, she thought your decision was based on your mood in the moment rather than sticking up for something you really believed in. Which one do you think was the actual reason behind your choice?
AzMarie Livingston: I wasn't comfortable with doing it. It's interesting you mention that, because I was speaking with my aunt last night when we were watching it, and she was like, "Well, what does Tyra mean when she said, 'Well, you could have done it differently by standing for something.'" And I honestly think I stood for something.
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When you don't believe in or you're not comfortable with something, you're not going to do it, you know? I answered it -- I did it as a model. And for me, I made the decision as a model who, if there were no cameras around, and my agent sends me out to something and I go to it and I get into a situation where I'm not going to be comfortable, my agent says, "Just call us and let us know. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do."
Being that it's the same thing for the show, obviously in turn I know I'm in a competition and it would probably get me sent home, but at the end of it, I was like, "I stand for this. I'll stick to it and I'm grateful that she even gave me the opportunity to be on here for six weeks that I know that -- there is a hope that there is something that will come after this."
So it wasn't where I was too distraught about it because I was like, "Well I had such a great opportunity here and I had an amazing run for five weeks." And I'm like, "To send me home on this, you know, I apologized. It wasn't a slap in the face. I didn't mean it to be. I wasn't doing it to disrespect you."
And then she said what she said, and explained you have to cooperate, and she's very right. You do have to cooperate and I do when I'm in work. It was just that one time, and I don't know, it got turned into something a whole lot [bigger] -- a lot of drama there and everybody's talking about it now. But hey, I guess it's worth it for the show.
Reality TV World: Sophie said you put the rest of the girls and Tyra down by refusing to do the booty tooch activity. Did you think that was a little far fetched based on how you were simply uncomfortable with the lesson?
AzMarie Livingston: I do and honestly, I wasn't shocked that they put it in because I was like, "I know you need it for entertainment and you need somebody who has something to say," but to even hear her say, "Oh you did it because you're too cool and for street [credibility]."
That had nothing to do with being cool. There's no other way I can explain it from the bottom of my heart [other than] I was just not comfortable with what they did and that's why I didn't do it.
You're entitled to your opinion and can say I did it for street cred and you personally feel like I was putting you down, [but] I wasn't putting you down. You've got the right to do what you want to do. You stayed in and you're keeping yourself up for your own reasons. I left because I was uncomfortable and I stood for something I believed in, and everybody's entitled. I'm not going to please everybody.
Reality TV World: The overall music video itself seemed to be very girly and playful just like Tyra's booty teach session was. While you were shooting the video, did you have any of the same concerns that you did with the booty tooch session? Were you worried the music video would've also undermined your androgynous look and personality or were those two things different in your eyes?
AzMarie Livingston: Kind of both. They were too different things but still kind of how I feel. I was glad that whoever styled us for the video, they at least put me in a blazer and what not, but then I got shunned for looking like I wasn't giving anything or looking like I was a bodyguard or something like that apart from everybody.
And honestly, it is acting. It was like acting because from the beginning of the episode to the end, it was hard. Oh my God. Everything was very girly, girly, girly. "Do this or that." And I bit my tongue with them.
I bit the bullet on a lot of it and I was just like, "Deal with it. Just get through it," you know? "Even if this isn't you and you would never do this, do it." And that's what I did and you could start seeing it from when we were in the studio.
They showed clips of me trying to make it seem like I wasn't interested and I wasn't looking. That wasn't really the case, but that's what you get, and then it just trickled into everything else. And then the next day we go in to do the booty tooching and then that happened, and then I'm like, "Okay."
At that point, I was like, "Really? Okay. This is a lot for me and I'm not comfortable with this." Because I already was like, "I'm doing a song I would never do." So that made me uncomfortable, but I just bit the bullet and did it. I was like, "This is the song. Whatever. I'll get over it."
I mean, it was kind of the same thing, you know? You can hear me, I was like, "I wanted to be in a boy band," and it's like, "Whoa." It's one of those things where I'm like, "Just get through it. If she sends you home, at least you got through everything and you did your best."
Reality TV World: Jay Manuel thought you had a bit of an ego and made a comment like you needed to keep it in check because an ego can spread like a brush fire and then photographers, directors, etc, wouldn't want to "touch you." What are your thoughts on that? Would you say he had a point or do you think that he was exaggerating, because isn't it important to have a lot of confidence in the modeling industry?
AzMarie Livingston: I think confidence is a very good thing, which is actually interesting, you know? A lot of people's views on last night, when they said the whole cocky thing, they were like, "Well maybe it's just confidence." And I'm like, "Yeah that's what it is but they want to make it seem like something else."
When I actually heard that part, I was really surprised, because I was like, "Wow, obviously what you see on TV..." -- even their comments had affected me, even if that's not really the reality of it. But that was really made for TV.
When I saw it, I was like, "Yeah it could be like that," but throughout the show, there was not one photographer, one person that I worked with, that did not enjoy being around me or did not enjoy my personality or my being or my character.
And so when I saw that, I was like, "That doesn't sound like me. I'm not disrespecting anyone whatsoever. I'm one of the most respectful people that you'll meet. So when I saw that, I was like, "Wow. Okay, okay. Ugh, they're about to go in now." Because it was just like constant. It was down, down, down, down, down -- all the way until I got sent off.
So I was like, "Okay, what's going on?" You think it's one way and then all of a sudden it's like, "You're too cool for school. You're this or you're that." And I was like, "Ya'll were re-enforcing it, saying I was doing everything I was supposed to be." And then when I finally get into what you want, you're like, "Nope, that's not it. You're doing too much" or "it's over done."
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you whether you'd admit to having a bit of an ego or that you maybe just put your walls up during the show due to the fact is was a very competitive environment. But based upon what you've said, it sounds like you were just misunderstood, right?
AzMarie Livingston: Yeah, I do. I think I was really misunderstood. You don't see me talking too much on there and when I do make comments, it's fun stuff that was going on or whatever. You never see me talking bad about anyone or about the situations I'm in until last night when they caught me being a little unprofessional.
And it was just one of those things where I feel like they showed me as a complete contrast in this episode as opposed to the last five weeks that they've been airing in this buildup they've been making of me. And then to drop it like that, I was surprised.
Those that follow and are fans and what not, they know the situation. It's very much like a balanced scale. You have those who are like, "I'm so glad she did that," when I got sent home. And then you've got everybody else that's like, "I can't believe this. This is ridiculous. This has got to be a fluke or something. What's really going on?"
Reality TV World: During last week's episode, Ashley Brown said she wished she could be you and that you should've been in a competition all by yourself. And many of the other models agreed. Sophie, for example, believed you were the Brits' biggest competition. I'm sure you don't want to toot your own horn given the fact you've gotten a lot of criticism for having a big ego, but did you feel like you had little competition while you were on the show? Did the models' comments actually come as a surprise to you?
AzMarie Livingston: I mean, their comments a little bit did come as a surprise just because when you're in the house and you're around each other, you don't really see the things that they say. You see it and then I'm like, "Damn, I didn't know you felt this way!" But I don't know. I love Ashley by the way. She's awesome.
And my response to her saying I should be in a competition all by myself, I don't know. They said those things. I didn't. I just came in to compete and try to win. Coming into it, yeah I'm going against 14 girls, but honestly -- and it's not even being cocky at all -- I felt like I had competition, yes.
But when I look at having a body of experience prior to -- and even those girls on the show, especially the British, they know too -- I've been on castings in London. When there's 200 girls and you're in a line, I know I'm different from every single one of them, but I'm still in a competition with all of them.
And when I'm on the show, it's kind of not really any different in knowing that -- even though it's setup as far as the shoots and stuff -- beyond that, I'm like, "You know, it's just like in the real world." If we were out there and all 14 of us were to go on a casting, if somebody's interested in your look and who you are and they've seen your body of work, then they're going to hire you.
I was on the show the whole time kind of the same way. If I was living in a model house out in London or something and we're all represented by the same agent and they're sending us out all on the same castings, it's the same thing to me.
Reality TV World: So who did you think was your competition while on the show and why?
AzMarie Livingston: I would say Laura and Sophie. They, to me, are the competition with me as far as our body of work and how it's going to hold up. I think that they're probably going to be the Top 2.
Reality TV World: During production for the music videos, Jay Manuel noted that Kyle was kind of pulling everybody down because she didn't seem comfortable and sort of messed up the choreography and what not. Did you feel that way while you were shooting it, like she was kind of hurting your team? Do you think Jay was fair in his criticism of Kyle or would you argue she did a good job and people were overreacting to her errors?
AzMarie Livingston: Kind of all of the above. When you see me go into the bathroom and try to talk to her, she kept saying, "I'm bringing everybody down. I can't get it." And it's like that. You're under a lot of pressure and it's a lot of tension and there's a lot going on."
There's so many people around you on the set. It's kind of one of those things where I was like, "Hey, you might be down, but you're not bringing us down because we're all trying to stay up for you." So let's try to mesh our energy and try to get rid of whatever negative aura is around her.
So I was trying to help her get out of that and then get it done and go for it. I went through my thing and it's just one of those things where I was like, "Hey, it's going to be okay. You got this. We get it. You might not have the on-beat point, but it's okay."
It's kind of one of those things where like, "We're models and they're trying to make us pop stars overnight. You can't beat yourself up about it." And that's one thing I had told her when they showed us talking in the bathroom, and she got it together after that. You just need that pat on the back or extra push sometimes. Everybody needs it.
Reality TV World: When Tyra spoke to you following your elimination, she said she thought you were going to be a finalist. Did your heart sink when she said that and did you feel the same way in that you definitely envisioned yourself making it to the end? I mean, it couldn't have been easy to hear that.
AzMarie Livingston: It wasn't. A part of me was like, "Really? You thought I was going to be in the top?" I'm like, "You make the decision. You could have did that." A part of my head was like that. But honestly, going into it, the whole time, I kind of told myself that if I had gone any further, I'd be in the Top 5.
Reality TV World: Sophie, and it seems like Alisha, had a similar personality in that they thrived on that American versus British competition and basically wanted to wipe all the American girls out. They were also very outspoken with their opinions when it came to how a certain girl was performing or looked at certain times. So what were your general thoughts on them? Did you like them or get along with them?
AzMarie Livingston: I got along with everybody in the house. I thought everybody was amazing. You gotta understand though. These girls that are from Britain, they've been on Britain's Next Top Model before, so they know how to make things look a certain way or how to get girls out.
They got a whole process of elimination within the house -- outside of what the judges are making their final decisions -- of, "How can I make a girl cry?" We didn't really get to that point, but eventually, you would see it kind of coming out. But I think they're amazing girls. I think it was a competition and you need it for TV and everybody's gotta give something to the entertainment at the end of the day.
Reality TV World: In your final words, you seemed to be very thankful for the opportunity to be on the show and happy with your performance overall on Top Model. So would you say you had no hard feelings towards anyone following your elimination then? Is that accurate to assume?
AzMarie Livingston: That is very accurate -- not even assuming. That's very accurate that I was very grateful for the opportunity. I had an amazing time. I met wonderful people, even the judges. Getting their feedback and their criticism and everything that they gave to help me to perfect myself as a model and as a person, that only made me better.
I had five consecutive good weeks of really coming into this character of who "AzMarie" was, and when last night's episode came, it was kind of like a disappointment for everyone. But I'm very happy for the opportunity. If Tyra never let me on there, nobody would know who I was, you know?
And so, I got to get as far as I did and now, it's only about moving forward and continuing from here with all the opportunities that have opened up for me.
Reality TV World: Kelly Cutrone obviously replaced Andre Leon Talley on the judging panel this season. What were your thoughts about that? Were you disappointed Andre wouldn't be on the show? And did you really like Kelly and think she was a good judge or did you believe she was too harsh?
AzMarie Livingston: Honestly, before we even knew that she was on there, in my mind, I'm like, "Oh, we get to meet Andre Leon Talley!" I was thinking he was a good golden person, where what he says is kind of worth gold for you. And then when we get out there, Kelly was there. I was like, "Whoa, I knew this was pretty deep."
I enjoyed Kelly. I have no problem with her. I'm not even mad... For the most part, I think as far as her constructive criticism and how everybody might think she has an attitude -- her words come across very strong in what she says -- she's a PR maven and she knows what she's doing. She knows how to make you better. That's why she's been doing what she's doing for so long.
So, I never had a problem with her. I actually thought that her being on there might even [help] me even more -- with people hearing her feedback and what she felt about it -- as opposed to maybe Tyra and her fellow judges on the show.
Reality TV World: How did you end up on America's Next Top Model? What was that process like for you and was it your first time applying for the show?
AzMarie Livingston: It was my first time. I was scouted with someone who stayed in touch with me for a couple years that made me audition for the show. But at the time, I was in contracts with agencies, so I couldn't go in anyway.
I wasn't going to null and void my contract to do the show, so I kind of believed in being able to do the foot work and kind of get out there without the show, because I had done modeling for so many years. I thought people would be like, "Why would you even go on there?" and kind of downplay me for it.
But they didn't, so that was good. So that's how I got on! I was scouted and I was finally like, "Okay, my contract's up with my agency" that I was with at the time. And so then I was like, "Now let me see if this is what it's meant to be." And then she picked me to be one of the contestants on the show.