We had high hopes that Kayla was the strong horse that could hold steady throughout the competition on Cycle 15 of ANTM and even beat out everyone’s favorite stallion, Ann Ward. But alas, our dreams were shattered when Tyra pointed out that Kayla needed to learn her camera angles a bit better and Chelsey moved to the front of the pack (behind Ann, of course). We chatted with Kayla about the shocking secret she revealed to Mr. Jay about her past and why Ann isn’t exactly the awkward loner that we think she is. Get all the juice from Kayla and check out her best photos below!
You said in your exit interview that you were so excited to get home to see your girlfriend. What was your reaction when you were reunited?
Oh, wow. I had just gotten off the plane, it was so long. And then to see her I had to drive like three hours and when I got there, I swear we just sat there and we hugged for like 20 minutes. And she started to bust out and start crying, so I started to cry and it was just the greatest feeling ever.
How long had you been away from her?
I think it might have been a total of around two months. Maybe a little longer because before the show, me and my girlfriend had an apartment and I left two weeks before the show and was staying with my mom because I really didn’t have any extra money at the time. My mom was getting me things I needed for the show and to repay her I had to clean stuff, you know how moms are. So I was cleaning and raking and doing all this mowing to get extra money so I could get the swimsuits and stuff like that.
What did your girlfriend think about you telling Mr. Jay about your traumatic sexual abuse growing up?
You know what was funny? I don’t think she ever said anything about it. When she heard it, we actually watched that one together and she just hugged me and was like “Aww, boo…” and that’s all she said. I don’t know if she was nervous to talk about it with me. I’m sure there will be a future conversation, but she didn’t have a strong reaction to it, to be honest.
Were you nervous about watching that episode with her?
Oh yeah. I knew it was coming, I was actually sick. I felt sick a couple days before the show. I was so stressed out and nervous. I realized when it was all said and done that it wasn’t that bad. I was actually happy that it was all said and done. I felt a weight off my shoulders and it felt good.
Did your mom or anyone in your family talk to you about what you said on the episode?
Surprisingly, no, which they really should because my family didn’t know anything about it. I don’t know if my mom missed that episode or what the deal was, but she never really asked me about it, now that I think about it. It’s funny, I was more worried about my girlfriend’s reaction than my mother’s. That’s sad, but whatever.
When you went home knowing that you had revealed so much about your past on TV, did you have plans to talk about it with your friends and family?
I feel like I’m over it, I said it, and I can move on now. If there are people that want to talk about it, I understand now that I’m a role model and there’s a lot of people that want to talk to me. I got asked to speak at a high school graduation in my hometown and I got asked to speak at some community centers in the gay community and things like that, which I’m more than happy to go and talk my experiences and it actually makes me feel better. It’s a relief for me at the same time. But as far as just talking to my family about it on a regular basis, no, not really.
How did you decide to tell Mr. Jay about what happened in your past?
It really was never a decision, it was just kind of like I’d had it with doing these photo shoots and all the things we were doing with the male models and I honestly don’t think I got any sleep the night before. I was just really tired and really stressed out and I don’t know if they actually showed this, but before we were told, “You’re going to have to passionately kiss the male model at the end of the scene,” and I just looked at Nigel like, “did those words just come out of his mouth? Like for real?” And when I heard that I got really nervous, like I don’t even know, do they kiss the same way? I was nervous about that and that’s why I talked to Mr. Jay. Mr. Jay and I had like some kind of connection, I swear we did, and he saw something was wrong with me so he asked to speak to me, and I told him, “I don’t want to passionately kiss anybody.” Then I started to cry and I opened up and told him the reasons why and that’s when it all came out.
What was your biggest fear that held you back from talking about your experience for all those years?
It’s just uncomfortable. It’s not really something that you want to share. It was something I held onto for so long that I almost piled it away and didn’t even remember. I don’t want to say I didn’t remember it, but I didn’t even think about it in my day to day life. I piled it in so many years ago that in brief moments it comes up and I think about it and it kind of messes up my day, and that day [with Mr. Jay] was just one of those days. It happened to come up and it was just a really bad day for me, but when it was all said and done it turned out to be positive.
Do you have trouble getting closed to men in general?
Actually all my best friends are men, I mean they’re gay men but they’re still men. I don’t have a problem interacting with men at all; I kiss my best friends all the time, but it was the fact that it sounded like “You have to passionately kiss,” the sound of it sounded like “blechhhh” to me.
Do you have any advice for girls who are coming out right now?
That’s hard because there’s never a right moment. There’s never a right time, it’s whenever you’re comfortable with yourself and who you are is when you’ll be comfortable to share yourself with other people. It takes time. I came out really young. Most people don’t come out as young as I did. Most people I know didn’t do it until they were in their 20s, some even in their 30s. It’s all about being okay with yourself before you can be okay with others knowing.
How old were you when you came out?
I was 17. It was horrible. I don’t even know the words for it, to be honest. My mom kicked me out because she was so upset. My mom’s religious, so she didn’t really know how to handle that. My friends who I had known since elementary school were all of a sudden not my friends anymore. I probably only had one. My whole life and my whole world were turned upside down. But it’s funny because now all those same people who used to talk about me and say things about me are reaching out to me and trying to be my friend again. Life is crazy.
Are you ever unhappy with the way you look?
I wake up and usually don’t even wear makeup and don’t even care much. I think the only time I wake up and feel some type of insecurities is when I go somewhere and I see other girls and they’re so beautiful and I’m like, “Why didn’t I put my face on today?” Especially with modeling, you’re usually competing with lots of other girls to book a job and that’s when you start to think about those insecurities.
What’s your advice for girls who can’t get over their insecurities?
Beauty in my eyes is confidence. There are some models that got to the top of their game not because of their looks, but because of their supreme confidence. Karolina Kurkova when she came into the house, that’s pretty much what she said, too. She got where she is today from being bubbly and working hard and having lots of confidence. So if you’re insecure and you’re like, “I’m so ugly,” people are going to look at you like that’s what you are, but if you’re confident and you feel good about yourself, people are going to feel that way about you, too.
Tyra’s always commenting on how you need to know your camera angles. How can girls work the light and know what looks best on them?
Me and Jane would tear out pictures in magazines and look at what the models would do and we would try to practice in the mirror. We looked like a bunch of idiots at times, but it actually did work. When you try to copy other models’ poses it’s not always the best thing because their faces are often a lot different from yours, so when you’re constantly in the mirror watching yourself do it, you learn “Oh, wait, that didn’t look that good on me, maybe I should do it a little different or turn my head this way.” I think the best thing to do is study and practice. Or you could just be Ann and be born out of the womb posing.
Do you think Ann is accurately portrayed on TV?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Ann a lot. I’m sure in her regular life people made fun of her and she was really awkward, but on TV when she interacted with us girls we were actually really cool with her. Of course when we did our interviews we pointed out the fact that she’s socially awkward, but Ann was just any other girl to us with a different personality, but we all had them. She was loved and accepted and a lot of times it makes it seem on TV like how she was the odd ball out, which maybe I was blind but to me she never really was. We used to sit and talk about Pokemon and I didn’t know anything about Pokemon, but I just talked about it ‘cause she liked it. She talked about lesbian things and I’m sure she didn’t know anything about that. So all of us kind of became chameleons for each other’s personalities. We all really accepted each other, which was cool.
Are you excited about getting to be a Grammy girl because you won that challenge?
I am super excited. Even when I got eliminated, I was like, “Dang it! I lost the competition,” but then like three seconds later I was like, “Wait, I’m going to the Grammys!”
Who do you think will win?
I honestly don’t know who is going to win, but I’m hoping it will be Chelsey. I know the judges love Ann so much. Andre said that she has some kind of magical power driving her, but I just think Chelsey is the overall package of what a model should be. I love her. She’s a great person inside and out.
What are you up to now?
Right now I’m going to Tokyo December 8th and I have a couple of meetings with some agencies out there. So I got my fingers crossed that that will work out for me and hopefully I can move out there and start a career in Japan.