On the America's Next Top Model Cycle 18 finale (Cycle 18, Episode 13: "Season Finale"), Sophie Sumner became the first-ever Brit to win the title. The bubbly Sophie, who Tyra Banks nicknamed “Illuminata,” spoke to Wetpaint Entertainment in an exclusive interview, and gave us a preview of her future projects, described the “dream-like” experience of being on ANTM, and told us the real story of her and Emma Watson’s friendship.

Wetpaint Entertainment: What was your immediate reaction when they said your name as the winner?
Sophie Sumner: Oh my gosh I literally was 100% convinced it was Laura, and I was prepared for that, and I was like, “This is alright.” So when my face came up, I was like, “What is this, a joke? Are you guys joking?” And I think I was just in a complete state of shock. I really thought she had it, I truly did. I just was so excited.

Was it hard to keep your win a secret?
It is one of the hardest things, but it’s hilarious because when it finally got announced, all my friends were like, “Are you kidding me?" It’s not showing in England so they were all just keeping up with me on the web. It was really sweet and really supportive, they’re like, “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” It was like the best homecoming you could ever get.

How was ANTM different from Britain’s Top Model?
It’s really different. America’s massive and England’s only a kind of really small thing, so everything just with the production and stuff, it’s just bigger in the States. I’ve watched ANTM since I was piddly, so when I saw Tyra, I was like, “Oh my gosh,” it was like being in the TV, it’s crazy. It’s kind of pinching, you’re pinching yourself, dreamlike. And different as well. I think I learned more from America’s. You get the feeling that they truly do want to give you advice and help you. Kelly’s [Cutrone] been in contact with me afterthe finale and she rung me last night when it was being aired, saying, “Oh is there anything I can do?” Which is what you need because you don’t want it to just stop after your show finishes. You want to keep going.

Were you surprised by anything you saw, watching the show?
Um, you know, I tried to stay out of it and all that kind of stuff. I just really wanted to have fun. I went into it with the mentality of, “I’m just going to enjoy this because this is such an amazing, insanely amazing opportunity.” I mean some comments are always going to surprise me about people, but I’m kind of thick-skinned to it, because I think people under pressure, they’re going to crack. They’re probably more likely to say things that they wouldn’t normally say. So of course there are some things, but I tried to stay out of it and just view it as, “You know what? That was past, that was TV,” and whatever. I just tried to have fun.

Is there a big difference between modeling in America and modeling in the UK?
As a career, the US is so much bigger, it’s crazy. Everything from shoots and studio spaces, and I was saying earlier, I just feel like a little ducky goldfish in this massive sea. I love the States, I was just out there in Los Angeles on holiday. I went to LA and New York and I just fell for it, I love the people, I can’t wait to get out there.

Did you keep your hair pink after shooting?
Oh I really wanted to, the only thing is it fades so quickly after three days, and then I didn’t want to wash it ever, which would be quite gross. So I’m blonde at the moment, but I would happily put it in again, I loved it, it’s just hard to maintain that pink hair.

We saw photos of you and Emma Watson recently. Are you friends?
Me and Emma went to school together so yeah, she’s a buddy. She’s great, she’s wicked.

What are some of your future projects?
I’ve got a lot of prizes to fulfill which I’m super-excited about. I’ve got a YouTube channel and a blog and stuff, so I’m going to do a Behind-the-Scenes, so people can kind of follow me after Top Model and see what’s going on, because I think there’s still interest with the winner, so I want to keep the people who supported me and liked me [up to date]. And obviously moving to the States, which will be pretty crazy. I’m undecided [on moving to New York or LA]. I’d really like to do both, so I think I will divide the time. I literally can’t wait, I’m so excited to get out there. I think this year is going to be super-great.

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Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.