In an exclusive interview with Wetpaint Entertainment, Eboni told us how she really felt about being branded 30 Never, why she thinks branding is a bad idea, and why she opposed to the pigtails that Tyra Banks and the judges insisted she wear all the time.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What was your initial reaction to getting eliminated? Eboni: In the moment when I got eliminated I was disappointed of course. I had come so far, I could see the finish line, and I was almost there. But after I thought about it, the fact that I could see the finish line in itself was amazing. Coming so far and having so many girls, you know, there’s three girls left in the house now. Coming that far is a huge accomplishment in itself. So after the dust settled and the emotions cleared, I really felt proud of coming that far. Why did you struggle with the 30 Never branding? I feel like sometimes the expectations the judges had for me led to some of the criticism that I got during panel, and it caused me to overthink a lot on my shoots and I think you can see that on my face. On the Hello Kitty week [Cycle 18, Episode 8: “Georgina Chapman”], they were saying, “Oh she looks confused.” And it’s like, I am confused! I’m overthinking this brand that I’m trying to portray, I’m not sure why, I’m just overthinking it. And it caused me to struggle a little bit during panel, and it caused me to struggle during the challenges.
For example, when we went to the Dorchester Hotel, that panel Kelly [Cutrone] said, “Oh Eboni, you’re disrespecting the judges by not wearing your ponytails to the casting.” Well I go on castings quite frequently. I model outside of the show, I was modeling before the show, and never has my agent ever told me that it was okay to wear my hair in ponytails. And I feel like if I did wear my hair in ponytails they’d send me home laughing at me. So with that inner conflict, and what I’ve learned being in the industry and the conflict between what I’ve learned from castings in the industry and what was being told to me on the show, I feel like it caused me to struggle internally and it kind of came out in the work that I produced on the show. What would you have branded yourself? I don’t think I would brand myself. I think branding puts you in a box. I don’t think Tyra has branded herself, because Tyra is one of the most versatile models, that’s ever been in the industry. And she’s done, from Vogue to Victoria’s Secret, from Seventeen magazine, she can be sexy, she can be high fashion and I think it’s kind of interesting that she chose to brand us, when that’s what she did without a brand it kind of got her to where … the things that she’s achieved in her career.
Why do you think you and Laura fought so much? I wouldn’t call it... I don’t think me and Laura fought because fighting goes two ways. I didn’t really retaliate or say anything to her. The episode where her teddy bear’s ear got ripped off, you see me sitting there rubbing her hand, rubbing her hair. I like Laura and I have compassion for Laura. And I sat there for hours trying to comfort Laura when that happened and somehow, something happened, the shift happened, her emotions towards me changed, and I’m not sure why, and I think there was a lot of confusion. That’s why you see that scene before we leave for Macau, sitting in the bathroom and you see me ask Laura, “Why don’t you like me?” And she goes, “Oh well you’re vain, you can be so vain sometimes, you’re a bitch.” And I don’t see the vanity. [I don’t see where] there’s a point in the show where I’m like, “I’m the greatest.” You don’t see me in the mirror or things like that, and even if I was vain, I don’t see why Laura would hate me for that, call me a bitch, tell me I need to go home. I feel like that’s a personal internal battle that she’s fighting that has nothing to do with me. Who do you think will win? If I had to pick one person to win, I think it’s between Sophieand Laura just because I feel like Annaliese, she’s a great model, don’t get me wrong, but she’s a presenter. And she’s using the competition as a stepping stone, which most of us are, but we’re using it as a stepping stone to launch our modeling careers, whereas she’s just using it to launch her presenting career. So I think the other two models would benefit more from the prizes that are being offered for us. As far as Sophie and Laura, I think Sophie deserves it a little bit more than Laura. She said constantly throughout the competition how much she wanted it, and I just think she has a better attitude and outlook on the competition and just on modeling in general. Did Annaliese tell you that she was just using ANTM to be a presenter? Yeah, that’s something that she’s said on the show. She said, “I’m not the best model here, I want to present, I’m a presenter.” And then Kelly Cutrone has said it. I think Annaliese has made it very clear that that’s what she wants to do and that’s fine. I think that’s great. And I think that this is an amazing opportunity for her, I’m just looking at the prizes, the contract with NY Models. If you’re going to be a presenter you don’t need to be with NY Models, you need to be with a talent agency. Did you think new judge Kelly Cutrone was fair? I think she was fair and realistic, and based on the amount of work that she’s done and the amount of runway shows that she’s produced and the people she knows, I think she’s very knowledgeable and I think she’s not afraid to share that knowledge or sugarcoat it or make it seem like something that it’s not. There were a couple of opportunities where I got to talk to Kelly off-camera and just get to understand what she’s saying, where she’s coming from. Because there’s a slight difference between what is shown on camera and what is shown off-camera, and I feel like her intentions are great and her expectations are high, and when we don’t meet those expectations that’s when there’s a problem. But she knows what the industry is looking for, and she knows the standards that we need to hit in order to be in this industry.
Catch the next episode of ANTM Cycle 18 Wednesday, May 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter@MollyFriedman.