Exclusive: Hannah Jones talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/17/2011
Hannah Jones became the twelfth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model's sixteenth season during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Friday, the 20-year-old student from Houston, TX who currently resides in Austin, TX, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether she was surprised she was eliminated just before making the final two, how disappointed she was about her ouster, what her response was to Tyra Banks' claim that she didn't have enough strength to become America's Next Top Model, and why she believed Molly O'Connell's "never made lemonade out of lemons" poor attitude was overlooked by the judges.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you were eliminated or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand?
Hannah Jones: Well, I kind of expected to get first photo just because I felt like my photo that week was really good and I got really good feedback from Tyra and also Nigel Barker. I was kind of surprised just because I got such good feedback from everybody, especially [Ivan Bart] from IMG Models and everything, so it was a little bit of a shocker.
But they didn't think that I was tough-skinned enough, and the shoot the week before was a little weaker than -- I could have done better. So, there's always room for improvement, but I definitely did my best that I could do at the time.
It was my first modeling experience, so I'm really proud of myself for getting that far. I'm just super excited for the next step, and I'm ready to start my modeling career. So, I'm happy with the way that it turned out.
Reality TV World: How important was it for you to make it into the Top 2? Did it come as a huge disappointment for you or did you just tack it on as experience and saw it as just a bump in the road?
Hannah Jones: Oh, no. I really wanted to win. As soon as we got to Morocco, I started envisioning myself in front of the judges and them showing a picture of me saying, "You're America's Next Top Model." I really felt it, and I wanted it super badly. It was what I auditioned for, you know?
I didn't want to disappoint myself when I first auditioned for America's Next Top Model, but the whole point of auditioning was to finally get to the competition and to get the prizes at the end, and I was going to do everything in my power that I could do. I used everything that I knew so far, and I really pushed hard.
I think that the last photo was definitely noteworthy and something that could have taken me to the end. So, I think it was just that they saw a number of things why I wasn't in the Top 2, and after I got eliminated, I just -- it was hard at first, but that was like six months ago.
At this point, I've come to peace with it and understood that everything happens for a reason, and I'm just super thankful for the experience in general. It was just so awesome and I always wanted to be on America's Next Top Model, or I always watched the show, and so just actually fulfilling a dream that I had had was winning in itself.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words you were kind of confused with why Tyra said you weren't strong enough, because it seemed like even though you were emotional throughout the competition, you didn't think that was a sign of weakness. Looking back, do you have any insight now as to why the judges thought that or do you still disagree with the critique?
Hannah Jones: I feel like they might have misinterpreted my emotions and the fact that I never cried in front of a client or lost my temper or anything like that in front of a client. I always showed up to any kind of challenge with poise and I come from a place of honesty, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.
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Like I told them, I see that as my biggest attribute -- the fact that I am so -- I'm not sensitive, but I definitely am vulnerable and I can open myself up to certain emotions. I want certain things to come out and feel certain things, and I think that's a really good thing to have because I can tap into that in a photo shoot or anything like that.
But I'm definitely going to have emotion and have something come from within, and I think that's why the Moroccan shoot, where we arrived and at the shoot, I didn't do so well because I had like a lack of inspiration for myself. I didn't give myself enough of a story, and I found that in weeks where I really believed in the characters I was --
Modeling isn't, it's not like theater or anything, but it's definitely theatrical where you're not yourself when you're modeling. You're wearing the clothes, but the clothes are also wearing you.
You have to -- to make other people want the clothes is to look good in the clothes -- kind of just, I don't know, being original, being unique and having something come up from the inside that when they look at a picture, they want to know what's going on and what's the story, the mystery behind it, the tension.
I feel like I bring that and I had to learn that through the competition and in the end, I was super proud of myself for where I've gotten, and it's unfortunate that I didn't make it to the Top 2 or winning America's Next Top Model, but at this point, I'm ready for the next step. I feel like anything's possible now.
Reality TV World: Molly said since you were so emotional, she didn't think you could handle the harsh environment of the high fashion modeling industry, including how people would end up treating you and talking about you. What's your response to that?
Hannah Jones: Well, I think that I hadn't experienced any type of professional modeling situation before, and the way I handled myself was admirable for someone who was new to the industry. I think that, you know, Molly has her opinion and I think also she is intimidated by me because I represent a different type of model from her.
I think we all have our strengths and I think she was maybe trying to kind of try to knock me down or something, but honestly, I think that with everything I've gone through and everything I've experienced with the show, I definitely have a good idea of what the modeling world is like.
I know there's other things like lurking, and there's definitely going to be times when I don't get a job because of how I look, because I'm not like the right type of model. But you have to understand that that's not personal, you know?
I just don't think she really -- she might have thought she knew me, because we lived together and everything like that, but she definitely doesn't know who I am and what I'm capable of. I'm going to prove that in the next year. I'm definitely going to go places.
Reality TV World: Tyra had so many wonderful and positive things to say about you before your ouster but she really only concentrated on that one negative factor regarding your strength. Did you think that was strange or surprising at all that you were still eliminated based on just that alone?
Hannah Jones: Well, I think it was kind of ironic because we were all crying that episode and throughout the whole entire season, people have been crying. It's totally different from like living on your own and doing things on your own, because you're following somebody else's agenda and you're put into these high pressure situations where you go for a couple weeks without getting to talk to your support system, you know?
I think that the show is definitely an amazing experience and it's something that gave me so much to work with. At the same time, it's totally different from the modeling world that I plan to go into, and they both have their dark sides but you just have to take that with a grain of salt and understand that it's not personal. I think Tyra just -- I feel kind of misunderstood, but I'm not really going to dwell on that, you know?
Reality TV World: You also said in your final words that you gained the confidence to really begin taking risks. What risks did you mean by that?
Hannah Jones: Well, I think that sometimes an interesting photograph isn't necessarily about a beautiful girl, and a beautiful girl doesn't always have to be pretty. I wish that I would have taken more risks as far as like angles of my face and like I said, I'm still learning and I'm not going to dismiss that as far as anything like why I didn't do better.
But I'm going to take risks as far as just being like more confident in my modeling skills, and who I am and what I bring to the table as a model.
Reality TV World: You started off having some of the strongest photos in the bunch as Tyra put it, but you acknowledged that your last couple photos haven't progressed and just didn't show what you were capable of. Why do you think your pictures began to falter a little bit as it got later into the competition? Do you think the stress or your nerves were getting to you?
Hannah Jones: I think more than anything, I got distracted and I kind of lost my footing for a second. Taking that airplane over the ocean kind of shifted things a little bit and not necessarily in a negative way, because I started to see a different model in myself, but I think that for a second I kind of forgot some of the things that I had learned.
Also, I feel like I did really well at my camel shoot and the picture that they used. I don't know. When I watched the show, it seemed like I was doing a lot of really good stuff and [photographer Michael Wooley] said, "Bravo," and gave me really sweet compliments afterwards.
It just didn't seem like it really matched up with the photograph I got in panel, so I don't know. It's just like what's on the show and what really happens are two different things.
Reality TV World: You said you would have loved to win America's Next Top Model so you could get out of Texas because you didn't have many opportunities to take advantage of while living in the city. Even though you came in third place, do you still plan to move and take your modeling career head on or do you have different goals for yourself now?
Hannah Jones: Oh definitely. I really would love to go to either New York or LA somewhere where I can have more opportunities as far as my career goes, but my heart will always be in Texas. I love Texas so much. I think there's no other place like it, honestly. But you know, New York and LA are both unique in their own ways and I think New York is super cool.
It's got like all the fashion, my favorite designer has a store there, Custo Barcelona. He's just awesome. I'd really love to like walk in one of their runway shows and I'm just ready to go out there and knock on every single door. I'm ready to prove people wrong and just show them that I am memorable and that I do have what it takes to make it in the industry, and that being vulnerable isn't a bad thing.
Reality TV World: You said during the show that you felt Molly was angry and never "made lemonade out of lemons." You also made a point that people normally wouldn't walk to work with someone who gave off a negative energy, so when the judges were determining the show's Top 2, do you think they had taken that into account but maybe just overlooked its significance or do you think they just weren't really aware of her attitude like you girls were?
Hannah Jones: Well, I mean, I lived with Molly and all the rest of the girls, so I knew a part of their personalities that the judges didn't see at panel, and Nigel definitely saw Molly. He shot her a couple of times and he mentioned at the trash shoot her attitude and stuff. I think they wanted to have the Top 2 that they wanted to have, so it's their decision and maybe I was too nice. I don't know.
Reality TV World: Molly received the first call-out when Tyra revealed who would continue on in the competition, so it seemed like she was a definite [choice] from the judges' perspective. Do you think a factor in them choosing Brittani Kline over you had to do with how you were both blondes? Do you think that played any role in your elimination in that they wanted two girls with two very different looks?
Hannah Jones: Well, it's happened before with [Cycle 7 contestants] CariDee English and Melrose Bickerstaff, and honestly, I really, really wish that it would have been me and Brittani in the final two, because ever since the beginning of the competition, me and Brittani were like, "Okay, let's do it. Let's go to the final two. Let's face off me and you. If I don't win, I want you to win."
It was that kind of comradery and we were really hoping that was what was going to happen, and then once we got to Morocco, it just kind of seemed like Molly's pictures were always consistently on fire. I felt like really, really confident about my last photograph and I hoped that it was enough for the judges.
Although Tyra liked it and everything, it still wasn't enough for what they were looking for, and that's okay with me. I got a really awesome portfolio out of this and so much experience. So, trust me, I was upset, but now it's just a blessing in disguise.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that any girl went home as earlier as she did in the competition? Did you think anyone in particular deserved to or had the talent and potential to make it to the end but they didn't for whatever reason?
Hannah Jones: Yeah, I feel like [Jaclyn Poole] went home too soon and I really wish [Kasia Pilewicz] would have stayed longer. But when you get down to the top five or six girls, at that point, they just have to start sending people home for the smallest things, you know? It's up to us to really make a career for ourselves and I'm just thankful that Tyra gave us the opportunity to start our careers on America's Next Top Model.