Exclusive: Shannon Stewart talks 'America's Next Top Model' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/14/2011
Shannon Stewart became the ninth girl eliminated from America's Next Top Model all-stars edition's ninth episode during Wednesday night's broadcast on The CW.
On Thursday, the 27-year-old who previously appeared on Top Model's first season, talked to Reality TV World about her America's Next Top Model experience -- including whether her husband influenced her decision to never pose in underwear and utilizes the same restrictions in his own modeling career, why she thought the judges attempted to save face when they chose to eliminate her, and why she believed the Top Model all-stars edition was ultimately a "lie."
Below is the second half of our exclusive interview with Shannon. Click here to read the first portion.
Reality TV World: Your husband is a Christian male model and you've been married for a few years now, so what's his opinion of how you stood up for yourself during the all-stars season and does he have the same modeling restrictions as you when it comes to what he will wear and refuse to wear during photo shoots?
Shannon Stewart: He used to do underwear. He has like a 12 pack that all the girls are salivating for, so of course that was his money maker because he has a great body. So of course, people and clients wanted him in his underwear, but once we got married, he quit doing that and he was going to give that up because we wanted to keep certain things just for each other.
He had shot in boxers and then one photo shoot, they asked him to wear -- I don't even know what they're called -- underwear that weren't boxers. They were a little bit smaller.
So if you say that you'll do something and then you go to a photo shoot and let's say they have underwear that they have to re-shoot -- like string bikinis or thongs -- you're the model that's there and if you don't do it, that doesn't look very good on the agents that sent you and that doesn't look good on you.
So, it's just better that you don't even go at all. So, he was really proud with me. I mean, he knows that I'm going to stay true to who I am no matter what, and he was actually relieved like I was that I was no longer on the show, because you don't know how they're going to edit it.
He thought I did a good job and he thought I looked beautiful. Of course he thought that I should win, but he was glad that I stayed true to me.
Reality TV World: Did your relationship with your husband and the religious or moral views that you share as a couple play any role in your decision to refuse to wear underwear when modeling or was that simply a limitation you had set for yourself without any outside influence?
Shannon Stewart: Basically, it comes down to that I've made it eight years in modeling without doing it. It's kind of blown out of proportion. On the show, it's like, "Oh my gosh, she won't pose in underwear. She can't be a model." Underwear is just a part of the modeling. How many ads in magazine do you see people with underwear?! (Laughs)
The ones I'm looking at like Vogue, Vogue has huge beautiful dresses, they're in the desert -- you got Michael Kors, you got some sleek, gorgeous dresses by Calvin Klein. Underwear is just a minor part of modeling. Not everything revolves around being naked. Yes, there is some. Yes, you're trying to sell sex, but you can be sexy in a dress and be covered up and not showing everything.
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Reality TV World: Tyra said she not only eliminated you because you did not participate in the Greek salad photo shoot but because you had never won best photo or a challenge. Looking back, do you really believe that's why you were ousted from the competition or do you think it really was just because you chose not to do the photo shoot but the judges kind of wanted to save face a little bit?
Shannon Stewart: Yeah I mean, they were trying to save face a little bit, because if they would have eliminated me for standing up for what I believe in, they would have the whole world be like, "Are you kidding me?!" You know what I mean? It would not look good on them. I didn't win a challenge on Season 1 and I made it to runner-up.
I didn't win one single challenge. I don't remember us doing best photo. I mean, there was a best photo that was called out, but I don't remember if she did it in descending order. But on Cycle 17, I was in the bottom once besides the last time before I was eliminated. There were other girls in the house that were in the bottom two several times.
So if you were to average out the numbers -- let's say I was third and then I was eighth -- I don't think I was actually at the bottom. So, I find that kind of interesting.
Reality TV World: For most of the past episodes, you have been called out in the middle of the pack when Tyra hands out the best photo to the worst of the week. Do you think just remaining in the middle of the pack is really worse in the Top Model competition than having one of the worst photos a couple times in a row but then slowly improving overtime? For example, it seemed like the judges were kind of pulling for Angelea Preston, as she was positioned for awhile as the underdog.
Shannon Stewart: Yeah, I think they really like her. I think they like her story. I mean, I got second in the Michael Jackson photo shoot, so I really can't figure it out. (Laughs) Reality TV to me is not reality.
I mean, it's not scripted. We're never told what to say -- or I was never told what to say -- but things are definitely set up with different people and like I said, either way on the Greek salad photo shoot, I was stuck. If I do it, I'm known as a hypocrite. It's not good for my brand.
If I don't do it, I don't have a picture. And so, I really wish that -- I don't know. I just kind of feel like that whole thing that was pitched to me on the phone before I went on [the show] was basically a lie, but I still got to go to Greece, I got to hang out with amazing girls in the house. Those girls are awesome, and no regrets. I'm happy with my decisions.
Reality TV World: Do you mind elaborating a little more on why you thought what the show had pitched you was a lie? Do you think they basically positioned it as that your brand would be the most important thing but then it ended up being something otherwise? Because other girls I have talked to who got eliminated said they felt it was all about the photos and not much else.
Shannon Stewart: Because they said, "This is going to be about you and whatever you want to do." So, let's say I want my brand to be trustworthy. I would like to speak, I would like to host -- I don't care about singing. I have never said that I'm a singer -- that I have the greatest voice -- but yet, I'm being thrown into a singing challenge. Like, what does that have to do with my brand?
I don't want to be a singer, and how am I going to win that challenge when I'm going against people who can actually sing? [Sheena Sakai] has a fabulous voice. Oh my gosh, her voice was amazing, but she didn't even get to showcase that because she was eliminated early on. So, if things were different and they had a singing challenge earlier, would she have stayed?
It's like, I just think certain things are set up each week. I mean, definitely the underwear thing for me because I told them before I went on the show that I didn't pose in it, and yes, I still didn't pose in underwear.
Because another reason they said they wanted me on was because they wanted the fans to see that I was the same person that I was eight years ago that I am today -- that I didn't allow the industry to change me.
And then once I get on there, it's like [Nigel Barker], "Be more naughty! Be more naughty! You need to do this and this!" It's like every week, I'm like, "You've got to be kidding me! How does this have to do anything with my brand? You're telling me what you want my brand to be, but that's not my brand." Everyone has a different personality. Everyone has a different way of thinking.
So, they may not understand me, but I understand what I want my brand to be. At the end of the day, they see me as an agenda and that's it. You don't know somebody just seeing them in that circumstance.
I mean, there were cameras around. You don't even get to be necessarily you with being real. It's just, I don't know. I will never -- well, I will probably never -- do reality TV again, because it's just -- it's not -- it doesn't showcase the truth.
Reality TV World: During the Express photo shoot towards the beginning of the season, Bianca Golden told Jay Manuel, "Out of all these girls here, I'm the model." When I just talked to Bianca, she said she still felt the same way and wouldn't take that back -- calling the other girls in the house just "reality TV stars." What's your reaction to that comment and what were your overall thoughts about Bianca? The show showed you two getting into a big fight at one point during the season.
Shannon Stewart: Well, yeah, they didn't air -- I mean, we're filmed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the viewers see 42 minutes each week. So you guys miss out on a ton of stuff that goes on. I didn't cry for no reason. I never cry for no reason. You didn't see a ton of the conversation, but that's okay.
I don't hold any grudges. She is free to think whatever she wants to think. I personally believe that I am a model. I've been signed with one of the best agencies in the world, which is [IMG Models].
I've been with major -- I'm still with Factor, which they changed their name so they could be their own entity or agency. So, I think I've proven myself to be a model and at the end of the day, she's free to say what she wants. She doesn't have to see me as one, but I believe that I am.
I have no problem with her. I think that she definitely looks like a model. I think she could do really well. We actually got along in the house. We had a lot of fun. I wish that could have been aired, but it wasn't. So, I'll just cherish those memories in my mind even though they weren't shown.
Reality TV World: During the week when you ended up in the bottom three with Kayla Ferrel and Bianca and there was the double elimination, were you surprised you survived in the competition over both of them? What was your mindset going into that judging panel, because obviously two out of three girls going home is kind of a scary situation to head into.
Shannon Stewart: Definitely not good odds! (Laughs) I was nervous. I hate being in the bottom. No one knows, I mean, we're in there for awhile. You guys don't see half of it. We're standing there for a long time and it just draws everything out. I was looking over at Kayla and Bianca and I was like, "Ughh, this is not good!"
I like both girls. I thought they both were very photogenic and had unique brands. I didn't know Tyra loved Bianca's response to her question on a few things, so I was like, "You know what, she may be going home," but I had no clue about Kayla. I really had no idea.
Reality TV World: What were your goals for going on America's Next Top Model all-stars? Do you feel like you accomplished them?
Shannon Stewart: My goals on Top Model were to show all my fans that have supported me since Season 1 that I'm still the same girl. I've gotten so, so much fan mail and so many messages and emails from people. Even if they don't believe the same things I do, they love that I'm willing to stand up for myself because they know that that's not easy.
So, I wanted to go on for all of them and show them that I'm still the same girl and that I'm still achieving my dream even with keeping my standards high. I'm happy that I got to show the public that there are still some people in this world that can't be bought with money or fame and I'm one of them.
Reality TV World: What are your plans for the near future?
Shannon Stewart: My plans are, well, I'm still modeling. I want to -- I still host and I want to speak a little bit more. I've been, actually, all around the world from Australia to New York. I love being able to share my story with others.
I'm writing a fiction and a nonfiction book with a lady named Tricia Goyer and eventually, I want to have babies. I want to be a mom. I love little kids, (laughs) and yeah. You haven't seen the last of me yet! So, I'm really excited about the future yet to come.