Vanessa Marcil

Former Las Vegas star Vanessa Marcil, who served as host of Lifetime's Blush: The Search for the Next Great Make-up Artist, "couldn't believe it" when she learned that one of the reality competition's contestants, Todd Homme, had died on Dec. 13, at age 23.

"I was totally floored," Marcil tells TVGuide.com. "He was just a kid ... so young."

Homme died in his sleep of yet-to-be-determined causes. No drugs or alcohol were found on the scene. As last reported, it was suspected that something was wrong with his heart.

Though Marcil describes her role on the first-year series as more of a "cameo" than a full-on host, she says that Homme, in particular, had made an impression on her.

"The interesting thing is that I, for some reason, had this huge connection with Todd — which of course now is really sad. But something about him was just really kind and beautiful and open."

Blush dedicated the season's final episode in Homme's memory.