Exclusive: Naduah Rugely talks about 'America's Next Top Model'
By Reality TV World staff, 03/21/2010
Given her edgy look and prior modeling experience, Naduah Rugely seemed unlikely to be one of the first girls eliminated from America's Next Top Model's fourteenth season.
However that's exactly what ended up happening, with Naduah becoming the second girl cut from the competition after the judges decided her classic modeling style made her edge "almost a waste."
On Friday, Naduah talked to Reality TV World about her brief Top Model experience -- including whether she was bitter about her elimination, if she'd ever previously considered her classic style a negative, whether she knew some of the other girls were skeptical of her claims, and if they were all true.
Reality TV World: Based on what they showed on Wednesday night, you seemed a little bitter about your elimination. Was that accurate?
Naduah Rugely: I wasn't at all bitter. Perhaps it came across that way. But no, I was very heartbroken, of course. Not bitter. I was very grateful for everything I had received up until then. Bitter is not something I ever let into my experiences, because it is just not a pleasant feeling for one, and it is not at all motivational.
Reality TV World: Wednesday night's episode had also shown you appearing to be very confident that you weren't going to be eliminated. Was that actually the case?
Naduah Rugely: Yes, I was very, very confident I wouldn't be eliminated. I felt like I had a lot to offer. I felt like things were going well. But of course everyone is very surprised when something they really love is taken away from them.
I did respect the judges 100% for their decision. But being that I was such a different contestant, and I always gave myself 100% to the project, it didn't feel like I had any reason to go home. But of course sometimes things don't go as you wish they would, so I certainly did have a great time in the things I did get to do.
Reality TV World: Before the panel, you had told some of the other girls that you didn't think you'd be cut because you thought the judges would want to "keep working" you. What did you mean by that?
Naduah Rugely: Well I haven't seen the episode yet, so I don't really know everything that went on in the episode, but as far as what I felt when I was asked about it, I felt like the judges definitely saw all the potential that I had in me.
I felt like they definitely saw someone willing and passionate and unafraid, and versatile. Even though I do have a very set style -- I do have a classic style like they said, being that my heroines are the classic women of Hollywood like Audrey Hepburn -- I do have the ability to change as actress would portray whatever it is the [role] needs, so I didn't think that they had a reason to send me home.
But they came to the conclusion that they came to, and I respect them entirely for it.
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Reality TV World: Before Tyra mentioned it as a negative, had having that "classic" style ever been something you considered to be a problem?
Naduah Rugely: No, I see classic women as the most beautiful. So when you really love something it's generally hard to see the negative side of it. So I never really thought of it as being a hindrance.
But what Tyra said is very true, sometimes fashion really doesn't want that, they want something modern. So I think that there's a fine balance. I think you can be beautiful and strong and classic and still look like a rock star -- you know what I mean?
I think that there's a way to use both aspects to your advantage and that's what I've been working on.
Reality TV World: Did you begin to think you might be in trouble when you saw the judges' initial reaction to your photo or were you still pretty confident?
Naduah Rugely: Well like I said, since I haven't seen the video, I don't know how much was shown. Everything that we talked about, the judges and I, it felt like they weren't 100% pleased but that they liked it, they did see power in the photograph.
So I wasn't worried, I just felt like "Well I need to change things for the next photo shoot." It was a big surprise.
Reality TV World: After your elimination, you said you were "insulted" that they were cutting you and keeping other girls whom you felt didn't have your desire. Who were some of the girls you felt just didn't have as much desire?
Naduah Rugely: Well I do believe all of them -- I mean who can say who has how much desire exactly? I do believe all of them worked hard and were really happy to be there. But I do think a lot of them were more interested in drama as opposed to the fashion aspect of it.
So often there were arguments in the house, and so often girls were bickering when we were all striving really hard to be America's Next Top Model.
And so what I meant by that was instead of spending so much time bickering about people's issues, the ones of us who are purely interested in the fashion aspect and don't want to leave, we want to remind the other ones who are staying there to make sure they don't forget how special they are to be there and to stop worrying so much about everything else.
I didn't mean to insult any of them by saying they had less of a desire than I do. I just meant that they should focus more one what it is that I'm going to have to leave behind.
Reality TV World: I know you said you didn't seen this week's episode yet, but part of it seemed to show you getting dragged into a little bit of that and they showed some of the girls being skeptical that the stories you'd been telling them [about yourself] -- even some things as simple as whether or not you're actually married -- were true. Were you aware of that while you were on the show?
Naduah Rugely: No, I wasn't at all aware of it. That's an unfortunate thing about reality TV, you think certain things are happening and there are things happening behind your back you're completely unaware of. I didn't know about that until like yesterday when I saw a couple of clips after doing an interview.
I saw a clip with Raina in particular, and where she's talking about how my stories don't add up. And a very important thing I would like to express is that everything I said while I was on the show can be verified and is 100% true. Apparently things were very misconstrued, however.
As far as Raina being confused about my experience, I was very clear. When I was in Cancun I did a lot of work, a lot of fashion work. I did Fashion Week in Cancun, which was aired in Cancun and aired in parts of South America, so that in itself is international.
But at the same time, it was very low-key. It was a very low budget company and sometimes I did the work free for exposure. And I was able to a shoot for San Diego and a fashion week in San Diego, but it was also a thing of the community, it was not a large-scale enterprise.
I think she understood that I have done New York Fashion Week or Paris Fashion Week. But that is not the case at all. Partially I think they just did not listen properly and partially I think that everyone in that house had a flair for drama. So I was insulted that they would have those opinions of me without addressing them to me directly.
And as far as my life -- when I had a difficult life as a child and was struggling financially -- when I was in that place as a child, one of the practices they would do was to send their children off to the streets and ask for money. And I was explaining to the girls as to how children in those situations sometimes have to put up with those things.
And the girls somehow put all of it together and made it one story, as opposed to the different stories that I was trying to share with them.
Reality TV World: What did you think of having Andre as a new judge?
Naduah Rugely: Andre, he's wonderful. He's very eloquent, he's very well spoken. He has a very powerful presence when he's in the room, you're very aware that he's there and his opinion can not be disregarded. I felt very much in awe and honored.
Reality TV World: The beginning of Wednesday's episode had also shown saying you hadn't made close friends with any of the girls yet. Had that changed by the time you left?
Naduah Rugely: It felt like I had. I don't think I actually did make a very close friendship with any of them, there wasn't enough time. But I felt like a kindred spirit in Tatianna. We agreed on a whole lot of things and I liked the way she thought.
And I also started to get rather close to Raina and Brenda, I wasn't aware that Raina disagreed with me on so many things or misunderstood me so much. While I was there I felt rather close to her. Another person I really enjoyed was Ren. She was a very interesting character and I really liked her sense of fashion.
Reality TV World: Ren also seemed to be one of those girls who was involved in some of the drama, did you notice that while you were there?
Naduah Rugely: Ren wasn't actually very involved in drama. The thing about Ren is that the difference between me and Ren is that when drama was directed toward me, I took it like water on a duck's back, it just went right off.
But when drama was directed towards Ren, she was the kind of person who liked to say something about it. Liked to say, "This makes absolutely no sense," or, "You're being ridiculous," or whatever.
So Ren isn't actually very dramatic, she is just the kind of person who likes to point things out when things are presented to her dramatically. (laughs)
Reality TV World: At the semifinals, were you surprised when you heard Tyra say that they couldn't find 14 girls that they thought were worthy of being on the show?
Naduah Rugely: Yeah, I found that to be very curious, I thought that was strange. But also exciting. I mean when things are different from the cycle before it's really fun to see what will happen and I was very excited I wasn't yet aware of all my competition -- that there was one more person I had to be prepared for. I was really interested in what kind of person I would meet.
Reality TV World: Of the remaining girls, who did you consider the favorite to win once you were gone?
Naduah Rugely: At the moment when I left, I believe I was asked that question then, and I said Raina. She seemed like such a sweet girl, so full of life, and I really wished her the best and I wanted to see her succeed.
Probably because, not in age, I don't think she was the youngest, but something in her attitude, she just felt like the youngest, and I wanted to see her make it really far. I wanted her to be America's Next Top Model to boost her esteem, to show that she can really work it.
Unfortunately, I guess she didn't get along with me as well as I thought she did. But she's still a lovely person and what you are as a person still shouldn't have too much sway on what you are as a model, so she's a beautiful model.
Reality TV World:Was this your first time applying for the show?
Naduah Rugely: I had applied once before by video and there was a problem. Somehow it didn't go through, either way I didn't make it at all. And this time, I sent a video and many, many months passed -- like almost a year passed -- and then I got a call back asking if I could go to the Los Angeles auditions.
So that time I wasn't expecting to go through either, but I did, fortunately!
Reality TV World: What's next for you -- The CW billed you as a "full-time mother" in their press materials, does that mean you're not looking to focus on modeling right now?
Naduah Rugely: Oh no, absolutely. Being a mother is one of the biggest reasons I want to be a model, considering if you have talent for it it's a great way to provide a great future for your child. I am a full-time mother, but I am pursuing modeling 100%. Her father, my fiance and I, are doing everything possible for our daughter to have a bright future and modeling is a passion and love of mine and a great job and career.