How do I love America's Next Top Model winner Danielle Evans? Let me count the ways. For starters, the 20-year-old was never at a loss for words. (If your attention span is so short that you don't remember how wonderfully witty she is, read on this interview will remind you.) She fought as long and hard as anyone could've against Tyra Banks' head-scratcher of an ultimatum that she ditch the signature gap between her front teeth or kiss goodbye her bid for the title. (In the end, the subversive stunner managed to work around the order without completely closing up her gap.) Danielle maintained a can-do attitude even when battling food poisoning, dehydration and a toe sprained in a torturous stiletto challenge that should've drawn the attention of Amnesty International. And did I mention that she seemed incapable of taking a bad picture? Heck, the worst criticism the judges seemed able to come up with was that her swimsuit photo was too sexy. But most of all, I and, I suspect, you love the Arkansas native because she's the rare CoverGirl who could make us believe her if she said that her beauty comes from within.
TVGuide.com: Was there a point during the competition when you thought, "Yes! I've got this in the bag!"?
Danielle Evans: Maybe when Tyra announced my name in the top two. But even at that point, it was just a little moment of, "OK, I'm going to take this" and then [that feeling] immediately went away, and I didn't have a clue. Within the next minute, I was like, "I have no idea."
TVGuide.com: I can imagine. The judges gave you a hard time about everything!
Danielle: Oh, god, I know, right? Kick a dog while it's down!
TVGuide.com: What did you think of the fuss they made over your accent? I mean, Elizabeth Hurley has one... Kate Moss... Naomi Campbell....
Danielle: I thought about that all the time! That was probably the most difficult thing for me, being told to change my accent when, first off, I think that makes me unique! Why should everyone sound the same? I'm from the South, born and raised there. I've never been out of the South in my life! And I didn't have a dialect coach in the house. They were like, "Change it, change it, change it!" But I didn't know how to, and I didn't have the proper help. But I understand that I'm in an industry where I'm going to have to learn to turn it on and off.
TVGuide.com: Have you actually started speech lessons yet?
Danielle: Yes, I have. The hardest thing for me is to slow down, enunciate my words and articulate.
TVGuide.com: I couldn't believe the way Miss Tyra insisted that you have the gap between your teeth fixed. It seemed to run counter to what she's always saying about how important it is to be yourself! And doesn't CoverGirl embrace all types of women? Nobody's telling Queen Latifah to come back after she's lost 50 lbs!
Danielle: It was very difficult for me, I'm not going to lie. But I realize I'm in an industry where people are constantly asking you to change for whatever reason and you have to compromise. As long as I stay true to myself, I'll be OK. I met them halfway [the dentist] got to close the gap a little, but not all the way, so I got to keep my signature gap. One thing that I want to try my best to do is take the things the judges saw as my flaws my gap, my accent and make those my strengths throughout my career.
TVGuide.com: When little girls come up to you having seen the struggle you went through, will you tell them that sometimes you have to compromise, or suggest that they fight even harder to retain their uniqueness?
Danielle: I just think life itself is about give and take. Just don't ever compromise your morals or your beliefs I'm a firm, firm, firm believer in that. But hey, if someone wants you to cut your hair and you're like, "No, I want it long," if you really want it bad enough, you'll know what to do at the end of the day. Just don't do anything you're uncomfortable with.
TVGuide.com: That's a great way of putting it. Is the gap anything more than superficial? You'd still retain "the gap" in your heart!
Danielle: Exactly! A lot of people were saying, "It's just teeth! You let them put a weave in your hair, but you won't let them fix your teeth?!" But I'm all about being different. I think society has put a wrong label on what beauty is. Straight teeth, you have to be skinny.... I think that's just wrong. You shouldn't have to fit a certain mold in order to be successful in this industry. Society puts way too much pressure on what they call "beautiful."
TVGuide.com: During the competition, you dealt with dehydration, food poisoning and an injury that put you on crutches. Now that you've won, you're going to be pushed even harder. How are you preparing for that?
Danielle: I'm doubling up on my vitamins and drinking lots of water. Now that I'm in the real world of modeling, I'm ready for it. I've been waiting eight years for this. I'll be more focused, thinking, "OK, Danielle, you're living your dream. Go out there and make it happen!"
TVGuide.com: Tell me about that crazy stiletto challenge.
Danielle: I only wear heels if I have to. Not that I can't walk in heels don't get me wrong, I can. But those were like platforms with heels. They were so extremely tall! And they were a size too big, actually, so it was really, really hard to walk in them.
TVGuide.com: I noticed Miss Tyra didn't demonstrate that particular challenge the way she often does.
Danielle: Yeah, she told us that she didn't even think she'd be able to walk in them as good as some of us did. That was a challenge gone wrong!
TVGuide.com: Regarding the judges and your swimsuit picture, when, exactly, did it become a problem for models to be "too sexy?"
Danielle: I think the issue was that it was too sexy for Elle Girl, and that's one thing that I really listen to Tyra about. She was telling me that for a men's magazine, go straight on, you know, and open your legs, that's fine. But for a women's magazine such as Elle or Elle Girl, turn to your side and slouch a little. [That advice] is really beneficial to me now that I'm in the modeling industry. I have a little notebook in my head, and I'm remembering everything.
TVGuide.com: Since you obviously have the men's magazine pose down, if Maxim called, would you do a cover?
Danielle: I would have to think about that. I can't say yes right off the bat, and I can't say no. I would have to know what the theme of the photo shoot was, and then just go with my gut instinct. I don't want anything borderline Playboy.
TVGuide.com: Since you were so quotable throughout the show, I thought we'd end this interview with a few final thoughts on your fellow models. First up, Joanie.
Danielle: [Laughs] I think of the Yoda from, what was that, Star Trek? No, Star Wars! Joanie, when she talks, she'll say, "I like that apple right there." She words things so funny, and I get on her all the time because the way she talks is just like Yoda!
TVGuide.com: Next up: Jade.
Danielle: Oh, god. [Crickets....] I have to think about this. I don't hate Jade at all. Jade is a really good person, but...
TVGuide.com: It's very telling that the first thing you think to say is, "I don't hate her. "
Danielle: Well, everybody says, "You must hate her!" But I really, really, really don't. We'll come back to her.
TVGuide.com: What about Furonda?
Danielle: A trip. Furonda is definitely a trip. She is a diva in training!
TVGuide.com: She's the first model to ever go off on me during an interview!
Danielle: [Laughs] Stop it! No, she did not!
TVGuide.com: She didn't like being questioned about things she did in the house.
Danielle: No way! I'm sorry on her behalf. But she isn't representing [our home state of] Arkansas! She's a praying mantis with a broken right arm.
TVGuide.com: What about Nnenna?
Danielle: Nnenna is Coming to America. She's great and so hilarious. Because of her accent, you don't really know when she's joking and when she's serious. Mollie Sue and I cracked up at her all the time. She's really, really funny.
TVGuide.com: And Jade?
Danielle: I don't want to say this, because it's mean, but I have to touch on all those words that she made up! "Brunetteness"?! That's Jade brunetteness!
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