It's hard to imagine yourself in a position where you've come so far and made it to America's Next Top Model, but then you decide to end it all and go home during episode 2 without Tyra telling you to do so. But for Cycle 16's Ondrei, the stunningly beautiful girl whose home life was too painful to discuss openly amongst girls who only care about smizing and chicken etiquette, it was a case of very bad timing. She did what was best for her. We were sad to see Ondrei go so soon (we thought her beauty would take her to at least the top 5), but we were excited to hear more about her progress in healing after her brother's murder. Read on for the scoop...
Take us through your decision to leave the competition because of what you were going through in dealing with your brothers' deaths.
It was very hard because it wasn't a spur of the moment type of thing. I literally thought about it every night. I talked about it with all the girls, despite what they showed on the show that I only talked to two girls. I let them know how I felt and everything. It just happened to come up and come up again and come up again, so the more it got talked about, the more complicated it became for me because that was when I decided I had an issue and that I needed to go home.
Had you discussed your family with the producers during casting?
It didn't come up with the producers and I hadn't really talked to Tyra because what you see on the show, people always ask me, "how is Tyra really?" but I don't really know, that's just as much as we see her. It wasn't like I got to personally talk to Tyra myself and tell her what I was going through.
What happened to your brother?
He had lived with me, my mom, and dad for a while. Then he moved to Texas and he died, and the trial is still not over. He got murdered on the day of my prom — and the trial's still coming up this month. I'm still going through with it. It's making me stronger, of course, but it's a long process. I'm still not done dealing with all the people involved in the trial, emotions going up and down, dealing with the person who actually did it not being convicted of it and getting out on bonds. It's complicated for anyone to go through, especially when we had a close relationship, me and my brother.
How are you dealing with your brother's murder now that you're home?
I'm actually dealing with it so much better because I'm home. Being able to think and deal with myself rather than being in a photo shoot or on a runway and have it going in my mind. It's better for me to deal with it on my own terms alone instead of doing it on camera and having people hearing what I have to say and having comments and concerns from all people that you don't know and that you're not familiar with and who aren't your family and don't know what you're experiencing.
Would you consider trying out again for Top Model somewhere in the future?
I don't believe that I would do that. No offense to the producers and the show. It was a great experience that you only get to experience once, but I don't believe that I will go on a reality TV show again. I'd rather for me — now that I'm dealing with my issues — I'd rather go out on my own. [The show] has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, but I'd rather explore my career on my own.
What did you think about Monique's comments in confessional about you taking up space in the house and not really wanting to be there?
Monique said that I should've known that from the beginning, but it's not necessarily something like that. Anyone who has the opportunity to do something better with themselves, they're going to take it. So for her to say that, it kind of bothered me a little bit. That's one girl that I reached out to and we were talking, but at the same time I realize how people can be.
Which models do you think will make it to the top 3 this cycle?
I was thinking about it and I definitely know Brittani will make it to the top. I believe Alexandria will definitely make it to the top, but for the right reasons? I'm not sure. But I can't judge anybody's talent, so I guess we'll just see and if she wins, I'll definitely be surprised.
What do you mean by Alexandria not winning "for the right reasons"?
You know how on reality TV shows some people stay in the competition for the drama, ratings and all that stuff, but then again she's a very pretty girl — all the girls are beautiful — but I just hope that if she does stay, it's for a genuine reason (because she has what it takes) and not to cause commotion in the house.
How do you know that Brittni's going to make it?
There's something about that girl. I do not know what it is. But besides from being beautiful, I know that 90% of a model is personality — I have a great personality — and to be honest, if I was on that show, I'd be in the top two! It's not about taking beautiful photos, because anyone can do that, a kindergartner can do that, but something about her personality shines through. It's captivating.
Will you continue modeling?
Absolutely. As of right now, I'm in the process of doing my own thing and I have a team working for me: my mom and my aunts and a very close friend of mine. Right now they're working with me with my career and everything to make sure that it doesn't stop here.
What would you be doing if you weren't modeling?
I want to own my own business, boutiques, anything that I can get my hands on because I'm a very creative person. Erin Wasson has her own jewelry collection. To see another model and see she did all this stuff, I plan on doing major things with my career.
Do you keep in touch with any of the girls in the house?
I actually developed two very close relationships with two girls, Dominique and Angelia. We still talk. Those are sisters that I developed over the course of that show.