In an exclusive Wetpaint Entertainment interview, the Cycle 2 veteran tells us that she, too, was lured back into the wild world of Tyra Banks and company by the promise of “branding,” that the whole age question was blown up with editing, and that she’s every bit the diva that she ever was — if they’d only show it!
Wetpaint Entertainment: All the other girls got care packages full of clothes and gifts from their friends and family, and you got a huge box of bills. Were you really able to take care of your at-home responsibilities in the Top Model house? Camille: I don’t live at home with mommy and daddy, I don’t live with my boyfriend. I have real grown woman responsibilities. It would be nice to get little fun things in the mail but we’re away filming the show for quite some time. I run and own my own business and I have financial responsibilities. I have mortgages — plural — domestically and internationally. Where I am in my life is different from where a lot of the other girls are. You know, you can delegate responsibilities to other people but at the end of the day my signature is the one that needs to go on certain documents. So my determination in America’s Next Top Model and make it financially profitable for myself, I feel like I have a bigger stake than some of the other girls who are 18 or in their early twenties.
You talked a lot about how you are older than the other models. Do you think being from such an early cycle put you at a disadvantage? Oh, not at all. The show doesn’t highlight it but I’ve been working consistently for the past nine years. The problem is we are in one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression. There are millions of Americans who are out of work. Fashion companies, they don’t pay as much as they used to back in the day and the price of everything else is going up. Just because jobs aren’t paying as much doesn’t mean that your mortgage is going down or that gas prices are going down. If anything I’m more determined to win the competition for the opportunity for the financial game.
But you did mention your age a bunch. Did we misunderstand you or was that tricky editing? Basically, I love my age. I’m 33 years old. It’s a very sexy, strong, proud moment in my life and I would never trade being 18 or 22 for 33. Right now the way the entertainment industry is women are older and working more than ever before. And the skinny of it is that the entertainment industry — music, fashion, modeling, television, movies — isn’t very age oriented. Nobody tells their real age. So I felt that on the last cycle, 17, they said “33” like four times. I’m like, “Okay, if I said it once, I said it once. Do we really need to like play it four times?”
I’ve done an extremely good job of fooling the masses, but now it’s just been blasted to everyone. If you didn’t know how old I was and I was standing next to someone in their twenties you wouldn’t know the difference. And the proof is in the jobs and the runway shows that I’ve booked. It’s unfortunate that the show had to go in so hard in highlighting it and in the interviews everyone talks about it. I own up to what I said but it’s a positive thing right now.
You came into All-Stars being known as a bit of a diva, yet the judges commented that you were surprisingly subdued. Do you feel like you've grown and changed a lot since your cycle? [Laughs] Being loud, boisterous or cursing a lot, if that’s the kind of thing that you have to do to get air time then so be it. But all I know is I have a social responsibility to women of color to show a different balance of how women are portrayed because historically women of color on reality TV shows are looked at as over-aggressive, sexually driven, having negative attitude problems and being difficult. And that’s okay if there’s a balance out there. Maybe the new show with Malcolm Jamal Warner and Tracee Ross [BET’s Read Between the Lines] will show something different, or Single Ladies — they do a good job with that, though that’s not reality TV.
I gave who I am. I gave diva, I gave sexiness, I gave a little bit of bitchiness. You know, some arguments possibly happened. And then I also gave, you know, as you travel the world and you see certain things you would have flipped out about when you were in your early twenties, might not have that effect on you because you have wisdom now.
You told Tyra that Top Model would still be a platform for you. How will you take advantage of your All-Star status? I aspire to be an icon in this business. I aspire to do so much that I can be an example for the other girls on the show. Because they’re going to have to be my age at some point so I think they should take some sort of notice in a positive sense. One of the role models in this business is Iman. Like, how old is Iman, you know? She still takes a dope picture but she reinvented herself and she has her makeup line. Cindy Crawford has her whole line of skin care products. Heidi Klum obviously has Project Runway. She still has amazing campaigns out there. Naomi Campbell has her perfume line and she’s an amazing spokesperson and humanitarian. So in no way is my age putting me at a disadvantage. What we do as a model is we sell an illusion. Everyone is running for Botox and plastic surgery — I have none of those. I try to live a stress-free life, I exercise, and I cook amazing food.
Did anything go down in the house that you wish hadn't been cut? Unfortunately, you didn’t see me exercise on the show, which I did basically every morning. Rounding up the girls, cooking, all those great things. I’m very proud of myself for being afloat and doing quite well the past ten years after Cycle 2. But unfortunately you wouldn’t know those things because they have not been highlighted yet on ANTM. If they do highlight it, I’m not sure, but they do have all the pictures and the footage.
All of the eliminated All-Stars we spoke to so far have said they felt the show wasn’t quite what they’d been led to believe. Do you share that feeling? The bottom line is that the show was pitched to us as an opportunity to brand yourself. Branding was my number one goal, who Camille McDonald is. I wanted to show the world my vibrant personality, what I had accomplished for the past years and how I’ve grown spiritually, mentally, and physically. And to stay afloat with my real estate investments. The reason I was back on the show was because the show is now a paid show and it would be a vehicle for me to solidify my quote-unquote celebrity. After the show I found out that was not the case. I came in the door with a brand already, unlike the other girls, which is my signature walk, which you never see on Cycle 17. You never see my cooking, you never see my daily exercise routine, you never see my incredible personality. It’s all just faded out from what the editors chose to show of me. Still, no publicity is bad publicity. All I have to do now is to continue the show world the real Camille McDonald. That sass, that spice did not go anywhere, sweetheart.
Who are you rooting for? That’s such a hard question to answer because each one of us is so unique in our own ways. Whoever wins ANTM more power to them. Take the opportunity and capitalize on it and live your dream. Just to digress for a second. Take Isis [King] for example. She was adamant about her clothing line. You really don’t see a lot of that on the show. And Sheena [Sakai]? That chick can sing her butt off! She was trying to brand that particular thing about her. And Brittany [Brower] to me is like a Chelsea Lately — you didn’t see that. So the whole thing about branding, I’m quite confused. Maybe the person who wins or gets runner-up will get branded according to how they were. I just think that because it’s the All-Star cycle everyone should have left with something that was going to empower them and their brand and be able to capitalize on it.
What’s next for you? I’m going to be coming out, God willing, with my shoe line because when you have a signature walk it’s only fitting to have a sexy, proud, strong shoe line. And there’s my cook book, which is comprised of recipes from around the world that I gathered traveling in my career between Cycle 2 and Cycle 17. My new website camillemcdonald.com launch hopefully will be in the next three weeks or so. It has amazing photos where you can see all my diva-ness and my fierceness.