Reality check for model Jourdan Miller

Meet Jourdan Miller, who sashayed away with the grand prize on the latest season of America’s Next Top Model.

WHO among us has not switched on the telly, and can't help but watch America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) when it’s on? I know that even my 65-year-old dad, who loves golf and is an accountant at heart, loves it. After all, the modelling reality series features gorgeous people being made to go through tough challenges and airing their dirty laundry in public. It’s sheer genius!

I am, obviously, a huge fan myself so when I was assigned to interview the winner of the latest season, I naturally said yes!

My interview with Jourdan Miller was held at the Imperial Suite of the Grand Millennium Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Despite looking out for her tall frame, I was still quite surprised when the statuesque beauty dashed toward me. She introduced herself in a huff, while looking for her shoes.

“I love Malaysia,” she declared, rushing about the room in a black Guess mini dress, with red floral print.“It is absolutely beautiful here and the people are so friendly! I really like the heat, too, especially since I have just come from Bend, Oregon where there is snow in the mountains. It is -8°F (-22°C) over there the last time I checked.”

Jourdan Miller meeting her Malaysian fans when she was in Kuala Lumpur last month, on a LRT trip organised by Red FM.
Miller meeting her Malaysian fans when she was in Kuala Lumpur last month.

After she finally found a pair of black stilettos, we settle down for a quick chat. In person, the 183cm tall model is a stunner; her skin made even more luminous thanks to make-up by the Makeup Forever crew.

Miller was in town for a “Love Guess” party along with the rest of the top five finalists of the show – Marvin Cortes, Cory Hindroff, Renee Bhagwandeen and Chris Hernandez. The last episode was aired a few weeks ago in the United States where her win was announced.

“It is such a relief to be able to speak of my win as I had been keeping the secret for a really long time,” she said, adding, “I am just so happy and am ready to take on the world, and this is the first step in my career. But I want to grow beyond ANTM and become an icon like Tyra Banks.”

Miller’s win includes a modeling contract with Next Model Management in Los Angeles, an eight-page spread in the Dec/Jan 2014 issue of Nylon magazine and a US$100,000 (RM329,000) ad campaign with Guess.

With a win like that, accompanied by international fame, the 20-year-old admitted she had a few hard knocks during the show. “The main lesson learnt from the experience was more of personal growth. I had to learn to let go of the past and to become a woman in the world today. I had to stand up for what I believed in.”

Throughout the series, Miller confided that the greatest challenge she faced was her own self-esteem.

America's Next Top Model cycle 20 winner, Jourdan Miller.
Top ambition: ‘I want to do what I can do to change the world and leave something behind for people to remember,’ says Jourdan Miller.

“Learning to have confidence and believing that I am a beautiful and sexy woman and that I can do all these great things was hard. I had to pull myself out of a hole I had dug so deep. It is, by far, my biggest accomplishment becoming a new woman and, you know, just feeling good and looking in the mirror and saying ‘You’re beautiful’, whether you have pimples on your face or are having a bad hair day,” she divulged.

Regarding fellow contestant Jeremy Rohmer’s public crush on her on the show, I asked Miller about her current relationship with him.

“Jeremy and I became good friends towards the end of the show and although everybody else wanted us to be more than that, I am in a relationship back home and I am a very faithful and honest person. We were close on the show as he was very sweet and innocent and although I would admit that we would look cute together, Jeremy is not my type. When I think of him, I think of him as a big brother”, she confided.

Elaborating further on her ideal man, Miller shared that her preference was for someone confident enough to let her wear heels even if she towers over him. And it has to be someone with whom she can be herself and who makes her laugh and she doesn’t get tired of. If you have seen the show, you would know that Miller was married and then divorced at the age of 18. (It was an abusive relationship, she had revealed in the series.)

“I am actually very picky when it comes to guys now. I wasn’t before and learnt my lesson the hard way. Now, the most important quality I look for is honesty.”

With a camera following their every move, Miller disclosed that she forgot that they were being filmed. “I was more concerned about the competition. I couldn’t care less about the cameras or what was going on, I was just concerned about doing well at photo shoots and the challenges and making it through each week.

America's Next Top Model cycle 20 winner, Jourdan Miller.
I want to grow beyond ANTM and become an
icon like Tyra Banks. — JOURDAN MILLER

“I have to say, though, that living with 14 other guys and girls was torture. It was so hard as there were so many personalities clashing with each other. Having said that, it is a bonding experience and I now have life-long friends who are going to have my back forever. We all know everything about each other and we all went through the same things so we can understand each other.”

Of all the shoots she did on the show, the now-blonde Miller said her favourite was the very last one in Bali, Indonesia. It was together with Cortes (who emerged as the first runner-up) and directed by none other than Banks.

Describing it as “a very spiritual experience”, Miller explained that they got to shoot underneath a sacred tree and had to ask for permission to step on the ground where the tree was growing.

“There were a million little ants crawling all over the tree but as soon as I stepped on the land, they crawled around me and didn’t even touch me. Also, the energy everyone had during that shoot was magical. Having Tyra advise you during the shoot was amazing as she is a model herself and she understands exactly what your mindset is when you’re on set.”

Speaking of Tyra Banks, who is the show’s head judge, Miller shared that she remembers watching ANTM as a little girl and never imagined being in her presence one day. “Tyra is so sweet and really wants the best for everybody and it’s just her honesty and the connection from her that makes her a genuine person.

“I will admit, though, that (among all the judges) Kelly Cutrone is my favourite judge. She is a mama bird when it comes down to it and although she can be really mean, it is because she wants the best for you and wants you to get it into your head how the industry is outside of ANTM. Ultimately, they’re trying to help prepare us for what happens afterwards, and to let us know what works and won’t work for different clients.”

Looking beyond ANTM, Miller is hopeful about seeing herself strut down the Victoria’s Secret runway in the near future. “Ultimately, the goal is to leave a good impact on people. I want to do what I can do to change the world and leave something behind for people to remember,” she concluded.

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Lifestyle , Women , winner , top model , cycle 20


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