'America's Next Top Model's' Laura James plans on being 'very busy' after her Cycle 19 win
American’s Next Top Model Cycle 19 winner, Laura James has her plate full with a Master’s degree on the horizon, an impending move to New York City and a growing jewelry business.
Oh, and of course, modeling.
“I was grateful enough to have made it to the makeover part of the competition, let along going abroad, let alone winning,” 21-year-old Laura tells CTV.ca about her recent win. “It was crazy!”
The Cambridge, NY-native beat out social media darling, Leila Goldkuhl, who fell on the first flight of stairs in the final fashion show and came in third place and the second place basketball player Kiara Belen.
“Watching those scores scrolling was just insane!” says Laura about the last deciding moments in the competition, standing next to Kiara. “I was just hoping and praying that my heard work would finally pay off.
“And it did!”
Laura was consistently praised for her athletic, strong body and won three challenges throughout the competition earning her $30,000 in her “scholarship bank.”
In a recent phone call with CTV.ca, Laura reveals that one of the hardest parts of being on the show was being away from her family. “I’m so close with them and not being able to talk to them every day or Skype them or text them was definitely hard and it did start to take a toll on me by the end of the competition. They’re my support system, so if I had a bad week, all I wanted to do was pick up the phone and just hear some motivational things from my parents.”
Professionally, Laura says the biggest challenge was taking in criticism day in and day out. “I’ve never had to stand in front of a group of people before and have them tell me that they didn’t like my photos, and (I) just had to stand there and take it.
“I definitely had to grow a thicker skin which will help prepare me in the industry that can be very cutthroat.”
With the introduction of social media scores in this cycle of the show, audience members were able to weigh in on what they thought about the models each week, and Laura says this was both a challenging addition and a positive one.
“It helped introduce me to my fans . . . but also people who are not that fond of (me), too.”
The judges thought that the reintroduction of Leila back into the competition threw Laura off her game, but she insists it didn’t.
“I definitely don’t think my confidence dropped when Leila came. It was just that the title was so close when we went abroad (to Jamaica) – it can be pulled away from you so fast, or you could be right there and take (the title).”
Laura is currently living in upstate New York and commuting to New York City to find an apartment. “I make jewelry as well, so I’ve been working really hard on my jewelry collection, which I love doing,” she says. (You can find her online shop here).
She finished her college degree in the spring and is planning to put the $30,000 scholarship money she won on the show towards a Master’s degree in Hotel, Resort and Tourism management. “When I move to New York and start working with my agent, I’m going to start figuring out how I can incorporate getting my Master’s done.
“I plan on being very busy!”
Even though she’s got her eye on building her jewelry career and pursuing a graduate degree, Laura’s heart is still set on modeling and she hopes that one day she’ll find herself doing a major print campaign.
“I’d love to be a Guess girl,” she says. “It would be a dream of mine. Or Victoria’s Secret. I’d love to do Dolce & Gabbana – I just love their ads. They totally stand out. Or those amazing Chanel ads.
“It would be so amazing to see my name in magazines everywhere.”
Full episodes of "America's Next Top Model" are available online at CTV.ca.
About Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Lindsay Zier-Vogel has been working for CTV.ca since 2008. Lindsay’s highlights include interviewing the famed American choreographer Bill T. Jones and Canadian prima ballerina Karen Kain, as well as covering the Juno Awards. Follow her on Twitter!