Exclusive: Laura LaFrate talks about 'Top Model: British Invasion (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/04/2012
Laura LaFrate, a 5' 10 1/2" 20-year-old from Scotia, NY, finished as the runner-up during Wednesday night's finale broadcast of America's Next Top Model: British Invasion on The CW.
Laura was beaten out for the Top Model title by British model Sophie Sumner, a 5' 9" 21-year-old from Oxford, England.
On Friday, Laura talked to Reality TV World about her experience on the show and coming in second place -- including whether she was really disappointed she lost after making it so close to the end, what really went down with her panic attack and why she believed it started in the first place, what qualities she explained makes a good role model, and why she thought she had a big advantage throughout the season.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Laura. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion. To begin reading Sophie's interview, click here.
Reality TV World: Congratulations on being the runner-up. How does it feel? Are you disappointed you didn't win or are you really happy with how far you made it?
Laura LaFrate: I'm extremely happy I made it this far and I just feel like my time has yet to come. It's going to get there, but it's going to be on my time, I think, on my own pace. (Laughs)
I've been working really hard and now that the show's done, I've just been throwing myself at so many projects and having the time of my life. So, my time is about to come as well. So, me and Sophie will be up there at the same time, eventually. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: During panel critiques and before Tyra announced Sophie had won Top Model, what was going through your mind? Did you feel like Sophie had won based on the judges' comments or were you believing in your heart you were going to be the one to win?
Laura LaFrate: I definitely thought that it was going to be Sophie. Sophie's got the personality in that she's very bubbly -- very fun. My personality, it's fun, but I'm a little bit more hard edge. It takes awhile -- a little bit longer for people to see the different sides to my personality.
I just feel like Sophie is a great representation of what younger girls should be as well, you know, just happy, fun-loving and all this. But it was weird. It was very strange. I felt that Sophie, she had it. She came back from Britain's Next Top Model.
She had that PR after her show and then she came back and got put in the background, and she had to show people all of her personality and really get herself out there. I just respect her so much for that.
Reality TV World: Did you think the judges' comments were swayed in Sophie's favor at all? Did you sense she might win just based on that alone, or did you think she'd probably win anyway because of her good character and personality?
Laura LaFrate: I think definitely the judges comments as well. They really made a big thing about my panic attack, but I don't think that was the reason. I think, you know, the comments were just saying what kind of bubbly personality she is. It's so weird putting us up [against each other]. I had my own thing. She had her own thing. It was very, very, very, very close. I just felt like it was Sophie's time.
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Reality TV World: It became obvious that you talked quite a bit about sex during your run on the show, and Annaliese told me a couple weeks ago she thought America's Next Top Model should be a little bit of a better role model for young girls. What's your response to that? And would you say the editing made things look worse than they really were in that you didn't talk about sex that often but they just happened to show all of that footage, or would you say it was pretty accurate?
Laura LaFrate: I talk about sex a lot, to just throw that out there. I do. But the way editing was, it made me look like it was every single second of the day. But for me, I think both Alisha and Annaliese said it. You know what? Sex is something that this culture is very -- we're very far behind in.
I used to live in South Africa. I mean, that's even a conservative place. But I've made it out to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, like everywhere. It's a very big part of their culture in the way that people grow up, and the way that we approach sex in the U.S., we got it all wrong. We make it such a negative thing.
We really try to either block it away or we just overcompensate, and I feel like I had such a wonderful relationship with my father. We were very open. We talked about it. It gave me insight on what to do and decisions to make when I was older, and I just feel like it's something that all of us talk about -- or something all of us will do eventually in our lives.
It was something that we shouldn't just sweep underneath the rug. It's a big part of our lives and to have healthy relationships and to live a full life, you really need to be educated fully around. That was my biggest thing. They say I'm not a role model, but you know what?
At the end of the day, if they had a little girl or a little boy -- and I had a little girl or a little boy -- and their son or daughter is afraid to come to them and talk about sex, then they get into the wrong things, and that's not being a role model.
For me, if I have a daughter, I want her to come up to me and ask me questions and feel comfortable and confident and to know that I'd rather be happy knowing that they're going to make the right decisions than having them try to go behind my back. I'm open about my sexuality. I've been open about really just appreciating the whole world that is sexual relations.
That's what's really tricky about that. I've got tons of fans that will come up to me and they'll tell me, "Thank you for being so open. The fact you're so willing to put yourself out there and not be afraid, makes me feel like I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid to say who I am or what I want to do in this life." I think that's a role model -- somebody who leads by example and isn't afraid to be who they are without being afraid.
Reality TV World: So just to clarify, do you think your personality of being so edgy and "pirate-like" actually ended up working against you in the competition or would you say that's ultimately what got you so far to begin with?
Laura LaFrate: I don't think it was my persona at all. I think much of it was largely based on the fact that I am confident in my modeling ability. I know I can get the shot. I know I can do all that.
I think I did have an advantage having the branding that I did because it gave me free rein to do anything I wanted. I didn't have [a brand] to make people do this or do that. I wasn't "30-Never." I didn't have to look a certain way in a certain photo.
I wasn't "Gamatronica." I didn't have to have long legs -- looking like that every photo. So I really did have a little bit of an advantage just because mine was so open and free-ended. I could do anything I wanted with it.
Reality TV World: You mentioned the panic attack that you had during the CoverGirl photo shoot. It was clear that you were dizzy and shaky and everything as for the symptoms, but could you talk a little bit about why you think those symptoms came on? Were there particular things running through your mind about the competition in that moment? Were you just stressed or overwhelmed prior to even starting the photo shoot? What was going on there?
Laura LaFrate: For me, that photo shoot, I was not feeling well before it. I had told the producers prior to that that I wasn't feeling good. We hadn't gotten a lot of sleep and I had lost a lot of blood from my menstrual cycle and it had just been an ongoing thing -- not panic attacks -- but usually, I'll get that chance, that 30 minutes, to just collect myself and relax.
But I really didn't get that. It definitely wasn't the pressure. I've been in very high-pressure situations. I mean, I've jumped out of a plane, (laughs) so the adrenaline rush I got out of that -- and the risk also involved in that -- I feel like it's just so funny when people say that they think it was the pressure, because it really wasn't. It really wasn't.
Reality TV World: How long were you at the hospital for and what were you thinking that entire time? Did you think Top Model would actually let you film your commercial at a later date, and if not, were you worried it was going to be the end for you in the competition and it was an unfortunate result of something that was completely out of your own hands? That must have been frustrating for you.
Laura LaFrate: You know what? America's Next Top Model, they're definitely fair. I knew that they would -- I had already overheard that they would squeeze my commercial in. I was really happy about that, but I was only at the hospital for maybe an hour. It was just ugh. I hate hospitals. I could tell you that more than anybody else, I can't stand them.
I get like really freaked out. They tried to make me urinate in a bed pan in front of like seven other people. (Laughs) So much fun! (Laughs) And then everyone was like, "Maybe you're pregnant. Maybe you're pregnant." And I was like, "I am not pregnant!" I was like, "I haven't had a boyfriend in over a year. I am not pregnant! There's no way!"
Reality TV World: When I talked to Seymone earlier this season, she said she wanted to win the competition more than anybody and that basically all the girls remaining at the time she was eliminated didn't care to win America's Next Top Model because they all had agencies at home to go back to. So would agree or disagree with Seymone's claims? Would you argue that you really wanted to win all along or did it maybe become increasingly more important to you as it got closer and closer to the end?
Laura LaFrate: I wanted to win all along. I'd have to disagree with Seymone. I think Seymone was truly the newbie of the group, as she was the one who had never done modeling before. It was very hard for her to understand what goes into it -- the amount of rejection. She told us straight out that after the show, if she didn't win, she would stop modeling.
We're like, "So then why do you want to win?" We were like, "We don't understand. Modeling, this is a love. It's a passion. You don't just stop just because you don't get it this time. You don't stop."
And I think that was a really big disconnect for her, that she really didn't understand that concept of, "We're the product. We're going to be turned down a lot and it's something you've got to accept and move on from. You gotta keep pushing through if this is what you love."
We started to get that across with her and I think that's what really confused her -- was that she took that as, "We don't care if we win this because we're going to keep going and working hard to do whatever we can." So I think she was just confused by those statements.
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Laura. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion. To begin reading Sophie's interview, click here.