'ANTM' was much more than a modeling competition for Kayla
Kayla is not going to be ‘America’s Next Top Model’ but she is leaving the competition with something she believes is just as valuable.
“I feel like I really did grow as a person. I shared things on the show that I’ve never said to another person in my life, now I’ve said it to millions of people,” Kayla tells CTV.ca over the phone.
“Even when I’m out and I’m in public, I’m much more bubbly; I’m much happier. The show did way more for me than just grow my modeling experience.”
The 19-year-old from Rockford, Ill., is referring to how she admitted to Jay Manuel during a photo shoot she was uncomfortable posing with male models because she was sexually assaulted when she was 11 years old.
Although she didn’t intend to share such a personal thing on the show, Kayla now says she is glad she did as she received a lot of positive feedback from viewers.
“Right after that episode my inbox was full, just of people telling me their stories and it was really overwhelming.”
Kayla was also candid about how she came out as a lesbian in the 10th grade and how she was raised by a single mom without a lot of money. She frequently referred to how she didn’t have a bed until she was 13 and was forced to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor, while her mother and mother’s boyfriend slept in the bed.
“Tyra did tell me, ‘It’s ok that you talk about it, you’re going to realize there a lot of people out there just like you’ and she was 100 per cent right. I’ve heard nothing but people’s inspiring stories.”
It’s not to say that being eliminated so close to the end wasn’t upsetting. Kayla was sent home, along with fellow contestant Jane, while Ann and Chelsey advanced to the final two.
But after taking some time to reflect, Kayla says she is just happy she made it as far as she did.
“I was so proud of myself when I got into the house and then I was so ecstatic when I made it overseas (to Italy) that I was so proud of myself for making it to the point I made it to.”
Along the way Kayla also earned a chance to be a ‘Grammy Girl’ at the 53rd annual music awards show in Feb., 2011.
Kayla was awarded the honour after impressing Neil Portnow, CEO of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, during a fashion challenge at the Grammy Museum.
“I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I think that was the best challenge win there ever was. What is better than the Grammys?!
“I was so excited I couldn’t even contain my emotion.”
As well as rocking it at the Grammy challenge, the judges also felt Kayla had a lot of potential when it came to acting.
But Kayla says modeling is her focus.
“I’ve worked so hard to try and get my foot in the door with modeling that now that the door’s open for me I feel like that’s what I’m going to pursue.”
She already has some meetings set up with modeling agencies in Tokyo and will be heading there shortly to check things out.
“I’m crossing my fingers. Hopefully it works out really well because my mom is actually moving to Tokyo, that’s why I wanted to look there, and I’m overwhelmed with how I’ve been (received) out there.”
'America’s Next Top Model’ airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on /A\. Episodes are also available on demand at www.ctv.ca.