Sheena Sakai was the second modelstant to be evicted from Tyra-land on Cycle 17, Episode 2 of America’s Next Top Model this week. In an exclusive Wetpaint Entertainment interview, Sheena tells us that she got eliminated because she “knew too much,” about the legal wrangling she did to save her hair this time around, and weighs in on the bizarre advice that brand expert gave to Kayla!
We didn’t see any reason that you should have gone so soon. What was that all about?
Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because I would have done well at the upcoming challenges, the other repertoire of circus acts that they had prepared. I think a lot of music and acting was involved and I would’ve done so good, so what were they going to castigate me for after that? So they just finally decided, “Okay, so she’s not looking like the other girls, and she never really was. And there’s nothing else we can get on her, she’s not involved in any of the drama. We’ll just say that she looks better in person than she does on film and send her home on that note.”
Has it been hard to keep your elimination a secret for the last couple of months?
Not at all! Honestly, I don’t take that show very seriously. I don’t take life seriously, like I’ve said. I was only disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t be there for my fans or community much longer and entertain them. Not only that. When I went back and thought about it, it’s almost insulting to come back and go through that regimen again — I went on thinking it was going to be a completely different format, focusing more on branding than just modeling. Like hosting and becoming an icon. That was up my alley. But it was such a disappointment to get there and find out that we have to go through this training process again. To be told while we’re already working in this industry that what we’re doing isn’t good enough and what we’re doing is wrong. It was kind of embarrassing. We didn’t expect that going in. We’re already working. To be told that we’re still not good enough? That’s kind of ridiculous.
What did you think of the Pink’s hot dog shoot?
Everyone thinks it was silly. It was part of the format, you have to do another over-the-top kind of shoot. I enjoyed it. I never knew about Pink’s before that shoot. I did everything I was told, I followed direction well. And if I’m being criticized for following direction well, then you got me. [Laughs] Then I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. But I had a good time. I mean, me and the photographer really got along very well. And it just shows — like it just looked as if I was struggling or I didn’t do well but they didn’t even say much except for those two sentences that made it look extended. It’s just kind of odd. But I understand. It’s a show. They have to play it up, make it dramatic.
You didn’t want to do another makeover because of the hair disaster you suffered last time, but you ended up getting through Ashlee Simpson’s “Ty-Over” visit without getting traumatized.
Because I fought real hard. You don’t know what legal things I had to go through to get that, to make sure I was protected. So that’s why I was surprised when Miss J came up to me and was messing with me. I just didn’t want to hear anything bad about my hair and he initially came up and said, “We’re going to give you a Chinese bowl haircut.” I have a very vivid imagination and I thought of that Chinese bowl cut with my black hair and I was like, “Nope!”
What did you think when you were branded “Unexpected”?
Unexpected is up my ally. It’s who I am. Everything that encompasses me is in that word. And it’s the same definition as “Sheenafied” in my opinion, so it kind of goes hand-in-hand. Your brand really does belong to the public’s perception of you and it is truth, truth be told. I’m the unexpected one.
Was any of branding expert Martin Lindstom’s advice useful?
I wish they showed more of our interaction. He was actually quite amused with me and another reason I felt I was eliminated is because I knew too much. I’ve studied marketing before and I’ve studied brand management and when he asked us a lot of questions, you know there’s so many of us, there’s not enough time. I actually had a lot of the answers to the questions [laughs] and so I kind of think he left me alone for a bit.
What did you think when he gave Kayla the word “Free” and implied that being a lesbian isn’t in style this year?
She can take it however she wants, but I stick with her on her opinion. It’s all what you believe at the end of the day. She really believes strongly that that’s what she represents. She can take it to another level, she can expand beyond that. It’s really her choice. But that word does encompass what she is, in being free, in being liberated. And now that times are changing, things are changing so much that all these issues are going to be solved soon. It’s so incredible that the gay community is allowed equal rights to be married. It’s just a beautiful thing. [Laughs] Now we’ve got to get more Asian people to take on more roles in mainstream movies.
How did your friends and family respond when you were eliminated?
My family is kind of used to all this. They’ve seen it all. They were very chill about it. My sister was cute. She texted me, “Miss Unexpected! Cool word!” But for the rest of my friends, it’s not a big deal. It’s just a job. I just came back for my fans. Because I’m not going to be on there much they’re not interested in watching anyway. I’m going to kind of not watch anymore, either. It was fun while it lasted. I’m pretty consistent with my exits. I always leave so happy — which you should be. The only thing I’m sad about is that I really wanted to be there for the Asian community because I know there’s a lot of young women out there, especially teenagers, who can’t really identify with someone in the media. And for me that means a lot, because I never really had anyone to look up to — except for Tora Santana and Jessica Rabbit.
Want more Sheena? Check out Sheenafied.com!