On Thursday, the 19-year-old student and waitress from Hebron, IL who currently resides in Pell Lake, IL, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including why she was shocked she was eliminated, what the story was behind her reading Alexandria's diary and how she feels about her actions looking back now, what led to her emotional breakdown and "jealous" behavior, what she found most difficult and frustrating about being on the show, and which girls she thought had the potential to make it all the way to the end.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words that you were shocked you were eliminated and didn't see it coming, which seemed a little surprising since you had said you knew you'd been sailing in the middle most of the time. Did you really not have any suspicion?
Monique Weingart: I knew that I had a problem, because I wasn't winning but I wasn't losing. I figured since I hadn't been in the bottom two that I was improving on my photo shoots, so I figured that I was safe.
Usually they base the eliminations on how the girls did in that photo shoot and I just didn't really think I did bad, so that's why I said I was shocked. So, I had never been in the bottom two before, so the whole thing was really hard for me.
Reality TV World: Going off on how you mentioned you were never in the bottom two before, were you basically just surprised that the judges didn't give you another chance?
Monique Weingart: Exactly.
Reality TV World: Did you think there was another girl or two more likely to go home than you at that point in the competition, and if so, who?
Monique Weingart: I figured Mikaela just because she was in the bottom two with me, and she had [been struggling] at that photo shoot, and I obviously thought that Alexandria would be going home that day because of her attitude, once again, at that last photo shoot. So, those were the two girls that I thought would be going over me. I still think they should've gone over me.
Reality TV World: You also said in your final words that something inside of you was holding you back but you just didn't know what it was. Looking back now, did you realize what it was that hurt you and could you elaborate on why it happened?
Monique Weingart: I think that the thing that was holding me back is I wasn't focused, basically. I was getting stressed out, letting my emotions get the best of me, and it was just distracting me from the reason why I was there. Now, looking back on it, I could kick myself, but that's just what happened.
It was just the stress from the show altogether that was distracting me on my photo shoots. So, I think that was the only thing that was holding me back. Besides that, I was improving, like I thought, on each photo shoot.
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Reality TV World: Alexandria clearly has come across as the villain in the house throughout the season so far and last week's episode showed the girls bashing her in the confessional. What were your impressions of her while you were on the show, as it seemed obvious you weren't her biggest fan?
Monique Weingart: Well, the thing is, is Alexandria, she really is a really cool chick. However, I'm sure her emotions were getting the best of her as well, and she was just really loud and outspoken and just annoying half the time, which was getting on everybody's nerves.
I'm sure she was just stressed out like the rest of us, but she's really not as bad as she seems on the show. She was, like I said, just getting on everyone's nerves with her attitude.
Reality TV World: Last week's episode showed you going through Alexandria's diary. Could you talk about why you did that and what you got out of reading it? Meaning, do you really think you benefited at all from doing that?
Monique Weingart: I think we benefited from me reading the diary only because we didn't know if her true feelings about us and if she even knew that she was acting so obnoxious all the time. I mean, it wasn't necessary for me to read her diary.
That was just kind of a low blow. And looking at it now, I wish I had just confronted her and been like, 'This is how we're feeling and you really need to change, because you're making [unintelligible] and I don't know. The diary thing was -- it was a little bit over the top -- but we found out that she felt like nobody understood her and that's what she said, 'No one understands me. I feel so alone.'
After reading that, I was like, 'Oh okay, well she doesn't even know that we feel this way about her. She just feels like an outcast, kind of. So, at that point, I definitely should have confronted her about the way she was acting, but everyone was kind of just stepping around it for some reason.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Dalya last week, she said she thought it was disrespectful when you went through her diary and felt it was wrong to invade someone else's personal space, but it sounds like you're looking back and regretting what you did a little bit. So what is your response to what Dalya said -- do you agree with her now, or do you think your actions were justified?
Monique Weingart: Well, I agree, because if someone had read my diary, I probably would have flipped out just because it is an invasion of privacy, but you know what? It makes for good TV, so I talked to Alexandria last week when that whole thing happened and she's okay.
I think we can continue -- we're not really friends, we're more like acquaintances -- I really do like the girl and I hope, I really hope that one day we can actually sit down and hang out or something.
Reality TV World: The show showed you looking through her diary very quickly and saying some of what she wrote aloud. How much time did you actually spend reading it and how much of it did you read through?
Monique Weingart: I walked in, grabbed the diary, and I flipped to the back. I didn't even read the actual stuff she was writing. It was just kind of a little note that she had wrote and it just said, 'I feel so alone right now and nobody understands me.' That's pretty much all it said. It was literally like a five-second read, slam the book shut, and run out of the room kind of thing.
Reality TV World: As I had mentioned, Alexandria has come across as the villain this season, but last night's episode seemed to show you taking that role over from her. In addition to showing you complaining a lot, it also showed a few of the girls saying you were envious, high maintenance, and had a bad attitude. What's your reaction to all that criticism and do you think the show edited you accurately or not? Because we hadn't really seen that side of you until then.
Monique Weingart: Oh. (Laughs) I was extremely stressed out by that point, and my problem is, I always wear my emotions right on my face. Obviously, I was a little flustered at that point and I was really pissed off because I wasn't winning anything, and I acted like a spoiled brat and that's not who I am at all.
I feel like the show was constantly picking out every mean thing that I said and putting it on TV, so it just bothered me that I'm coming across, like you said, a villain or the bitch role. I'm really not like that.
Reality TV World: So the reasons you just described, are those what led to your breakdown or was there anything else that you haven't touched on yet?
Monique Weingart: It was basically just because of the stress and frustration in not being able to win anything when I feel like I had gotten robbed a couple times for best photo, and that really, really pissed me off as well.
Reality TV World: On that note, could you verify how you felt about some of the models who kept winning challenges or best photo from the photo shoots? You were seen rolling your eyes at Kasia's dinner prize and putting its value down a little bit, while you seemed frustrated that Hannah had won best photo and seemed to be at the head of the call-out order most of the time.
Monique Weingart: Like Hannah for our bee photo shoot, I feel like I did awesome at that photo shoot. Mr. Jay said I did great. I felt my photo was fabulous, and it really frustrated me because Hannah went in there and started crying because she was freaked out that she did bad.
She even came back to the house that night and she was like, 'Well, I'm going to go home next week. I did so bad.' And I was like, 'Oh, that sucks, but awesome, because I'm pretty sure I'm getting it this time.' And you know, like a regular job -- if it was an actual job you were getting paid for -- if a model comes into a job and starts crying, it's just unprofessional.
And Hannah goes and takes the best photo, and I think her photo was great, but that wasn't the point of the photo shoot, showing emotion. You know? She didn't do well and it just turned out -- it just so happened that the picture looks good -- I was definitely envious, which is never a good thing. I was probably a little jealous, but that's just because I felt like I was robbed of best photo.
Reality TV World: Do you feel worrying too much about how the other girls were faring in the competition instead of how you were doing in addition to all the stress of the competition you have discussed had any role in your demise? Do you feel it also hurt your confidence a little bit?
Monique Weingart: It didn't really hurt my confidence. It was just frustrating because I'm not used to always being second, third or fourth best. My downfall was a mix between stress and not being able to win and not being able to call home and not getting any time to myself.
I wish I was able to have at least five hours one day where I could sit down in silence and just reflect, and obviously, we weren't able to do that on the show. We were constantly on the go, go go. It was just really stressful. I had never really watched America's Next Top Model before I made it onto the show because my parents never had cable.
So, I would obviously watch it on Youtube and stuff when I was a finalist, but I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into, but whatever.
Reality TV World: During the mud photo shoot with your fellow brunettes, Jay Manuel told you it seemed like you had a switch that would flick on and off from "model" to "pretty girl." Did you feel yourself doing that at all and how do you think your modeling needed to change in order to stay looking like a model and avoid looking just pretty?
Monique Weingart: It was hard for me because the modeling experience I've had in the past with my body type -- it's hard for me to not look pinup or sexy versus high fashion -- which is what they were looking for. So, the normal things that I'm used to doing, I'm completely changing.
But I feel like I was getting better at looking more high fashion. So, he's just always in the background giving us tips like, 'Elongate your neck! Use your neck!' And I'm like, 'Okay, now when I do photo shoots, I will always remember that.'
I can't tell in my photo shoot when I'm switching on and off that whatever is going on in my head. It's just a matter of switching your eyes a little bit more and the picture's going to look different.
Reality TV World: During that autograph signing challenge you girls had participated in, you seemed to have a male fan that really took to your liking. Could you talk more about the fan and your conversation with him? Also, Miss J. Alexander said it looked like you were bored and watching the clock. Did you really feel like that or did he get the wrong impression?
Monique Weingart: It was definitely the wrong impression. However, that man James, he came up to me and he asked me if I had ever been on the internet -- basically asking me if I do adult films -- and I was like, 'Who the hell is this guy asking me this?!'
It's like, 'No,' I didn't want anything to do with him because he just kept going and going and pushing and pushing like, 'Can I have a kiss?' 'No, sorry!' And then he's like, 'Can you write down I'm a good kisser? Can you write down your phone number?' And I'm like, 'No.' I wasn't mean to him.
If I really wanted to be, I just kind of like became disengaged, and the rest of the fans, it wasn't like that. But there was also another woman who came up to me and said, 'Oh wow, you're 19? You look a lot older and your size is way too big to be a model.'
And I'm standing next to Kasia, and I was just like, 'Are you serious right now?' It just made me kind of disengaged, basically. Then I was even more pissed off when I lost and had to clean up garbage, because I hate garbage.
Reality TV World: Why did you tell him that Alexandria would be willing to kiss him? Had Alexandria done something that had given you a reason to believe that she would actually kiss him, or were you just trying to get rid of him?
Monique Weingart: I was trying to get rid of him for one, and two, I was just trying to play around with her. It wasn't meant to be like spiteful or anything like that like it came off as. I was just like, 'Maybe you could ask Alexandria!' You know?
And then he went right over there, obviously. But, I wasn't trying to hurt her or say that she was a slut or something like that. It was all fun and games and I was just trying to get him away from me as fast as possible.
Reality TV World: A couple of the photo shoots you had modeled in dealt with animals or insects. What did you think about posing with the jaguar and the bees and do you think one of those photo shoots was more challenging than the other?
Monique Weingart: The one with the jaguar was difficult for me only because I was last at that photo shoot. It shows me being second to last, I was last. And that jaguar was extremely moody and tired. Right before my photo shoot, it's the end of the day -- I didn't even get to look in the mirror before that photo shoot -- and see what I was looking like.
Luckily, the jaguar was calm. He liked me, so it worked out really well. But before I got in there, the guy was like, 'Oh, just to warn you, it's the jaguar's bedtime so you need to hurry and it might not be in all the photos. We only have a limited amount of time with him.'
And I'm like, 'Well that's not fair.' And with the bees, that was just really frightening, but I somehow got in the correct mindset and I feel like I killed it. But it was a challenge.
Reality TV World: You had two major runway challenges, one of which you were in a giant plastic bubble and the other you were walking on top of fire with your hands lit on fire as well. What were your experiences with both of those and how would you rate your performance in them?
Monique Weingart: The first one with the bubble shoot was obviously really scary because that was our first show. So, I was nervous, but I think I did well. I thought I did good, and the fire runway was also very scary because we were actually on fire and I was nervous.
I had so much hairspray in my hair. I thought, 'My hair is going to set on fire for sure!' But, once again, I just got it together and made it through it, and it was just really an empowering feeling. With both of those runways, I felt really good about it.
Reality TV World: What advantages or disadvantages did you think you had over the other models and while you were on the show, who did you see having the most modeling potential and talent to possibly make it to the end?
Monique Weingart: I would see probably Molly and Brittani having the most potential just because they have that super high fashion... look. I feel like my advantage and my disadvantage is probably the same thing, and that's my body type, because I'm a little bit more curvy than the girls.
So, it kind of made me unique out of the whole group, but it was also a little bit more challenging for me because I had to work with the way my body is and I had to make it work and look high fashion. That was a little challenging for me.
Reality TV World: You touched on how you wanted to get out of your small town during last night's episode and how driven you were to make something of yourself. So, do you intend to continue modeling and what exactly are your plans for the near future?
Monique Weingart: Oh, absolutely. This whole experience has given me so much more ambition and drive to just go for it! I know that anything is possible at this point, and now that my face is out there, I'm planning on moving to LA in April and getting involved in some acting classes and getting signed with an agency out there and following my dream this year. I'm just going to go with it and see what happens.
Monique Weingart: It was my first time applying for the show. I was on a website called Model Mayhem and my friend Amy -- well I call them my friends now because I love them -- but Amy and Tee had found me on there and invited me to the private audition in Chicago.
I was like, 'Hell yeah!' I always told myself that if I ever have an opportunity to try out for the show, I knew I would take it, but I would look for the auditions online, and I could never find anything. So when they contacted me, I was like, 'Oh my God! Yeah, I'll go!' I just did really well in every interview and I made it!