‘ANTM’s’ Mariah hopes to encourage other Native Americans to pursue modeling dreams
Mariah Watchman isn’t going to be the first Native American to be “America’s Next Top Model” but the 20-year-old, who hails from reservations in North Dakota and Oregon, is just happy she had a chance to be on the show.
“Getting to be the first Native female to ever appear on ‘Top Model,’ that was a blessing within itself and a beautiful opportunity that luckily (came) my way,” Mariah tells CTV.ca over the phone.
“I wasn’t doing it just for myself; it’s for a bigger reason. It was for beyond me, it was for all of Indian country . . . we don’t have too many faces (in terms of) celebrities to look up to for good inspiration so that’s why I was really pushing. My goal now is to be the first Native American supermodel.”
Mariah was eliminated on episode two of Cycle 18, America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion, after the judges felt there was something missing in her photo where she had to portray a toddler, alongside Kendall and Kylie Kardashian, and their mom Kris Jenner.
Tyra Banks also thought she lacked a certain “spice.”
“I just felt like I hadn’t gotten enough time . . . I can be a quieter person but I’m only quieter because I like to be so observant . . . I was trying to get a feel for the girls, and definitely had the quieter plan of attack and then come (full force) about halfway through and kill the competition.”
In the previous week’s photo shoot, each of the girls had to portray an iconic figure from their home country (America or Britain) and Mariah was chosen to be Pocahontas.
Although she didn’t have a problem with it at the time, Mariah says she did receive some backlash for her clichéd outfit -- beaded faux leather fringe dress with coloured feathers and braids in her hair -- after returning home.
“I was happy to portray Pocahontas herself, there’s no one else more that I would’ve liked to portray as an iconic U.S. character but . . . when I went home on my reservation for my premiere, people were like, ‘Uhh, that dress. Where did they get that at?’ But I wasn’t going to cause a fuss or anything like that over a dress.”
Dress aside, Mariah is just glad she has been able to be a role model for other young women hoping to break into the modeling business.
“There’s been quite a few other Native American young ladies who have told me that I’m their idol and their inspiration and they want to go places I’ve gone and I want to show them you can do that and go further.”
Mariah has been modeling internationally since she’s been 15 and has worked everywhere from Hong Kong and Thailand to Peru. Even though she may not have needed “ANTM” to further her career, she says the exposure has been invaluable.
“There’s never too many things you can add to your résumé and regardless of if you’re eliminated first or you’re eliminated last, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ gives you the opportunity to work with these amazing people and having the (title) of being a ‘Top Model’ girl, I’m definitely going to use that as much as I can.”
Watch 'ANTM' first in Canada exclusively at CTV.ca every Thursday.
About Sheri Block
Sheri Block has been covering entertainment for CTV.ca since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!