Ya gotta hand it to 19-year-old wrestler Michelle Deighton: The kid put her blood, sweat and tears (oh, so many tears!) into her bid to become America's Next Top Model. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. After struggling with everything from her complexion to her sexuality — don't even get us started on her posing! — the Indiana native was eliminated by Tyra Banks and Co. Before another skinny Minnie gets blown off the catwalk tonight (8 pm/ET on UPN), TVGuide.com grills Deighton about her downfall.
TVGuide.com: Even Miss Tyra seemed to believe you wanted to win more than any of the other girls. Do you think that, ultimately, that desire made you too tense to do your best?
Michelle Deighton: I think so, especially in the elimination room. [The judges] were always intimidating!
Michelle: Well, no. You know, I tried to stay out of the drama [all the other girls generated], but I ended up creating my own, unfortunately. But I think that helped me get more airtime, so people saw me more often, which is good. I'm moving to New York on June 1, so hopefully people will remember me. TVG: No doubt they will — you made a gorgeous zebra! Was the animal shoot your favorite?
Michelle: I really liked my picture from the dog-walking shoot, because I look like a ditzy flight attendant from the '80s. I thought that was awesome. TVG: Like, totally!
Michelle: And the photo shoot [in bed] with the feathers was really, really awesome, because I made the male model tired and kept pushing him down. I thought that was pretty amusing. TVG: Indeed! Why was it such a big deal for you to tell the other girls that you're bisexual? It's 2005, you know — it's OK to be gay.
Michelle: The main thing that caused me to hide that I was bisexual was mostly my family. My mom and everything... they have gay friends, but as soon as I started hanging around people who [are gay], all of a sudden, they had a problem with it. Some of the comments that they would make made me feel as if that was bad, and I shouldn't feel that way. Thank god I don't feel that way anymore! As soon as I came out and [the girls] accepted me and joked around, saying, "It's not a big deal!", that made me see the light. That helped a lot in building my confidence. TVG: Did you have a crush on any of your competitors?
Michelle: [Laughs] No comment. TVG: Oh, come on!
Michelle: Well, I realized that the other girls are strictly into guys, so... I mean, they were all absolutely gorgeous. And... I don't know. I don't think I'd be dating any of them anytime soon. TVG: OK, no more torture. What went through your mind when you started having problems with your skin? That's got to be the worst thing ever to happen to a model!
Michelle: [Laughs] I actually never had any skin problems whatsoever until, of course, I got on national television! But I was probably the least freaked out about it. Everyone else was running around saying, "It's a flesh-eating virus! We're all going to die!" But I didn't even know that was going on. I knew it was serious, but not as serious as death! TVG: What was it like to see on TV how hysterical the other girls got?
Michelle: I laughed so hard, I almost cried. TVG: Again with the crying.
Michelle: I thought it was really amusing. I didn't even realize they were freaking out that bad! It just showed how much time they actually had on their hands. TVG: In retrospect, do you think that having impetigo created the barrier that led to your isolation in the house?
Michelle: It probably did kinda, sorta, just a little bit. But I think because I am a loner and I don't get out to parties and act crazy and all that stuff like they do all the time... TVG: I'm sorry, but I've seen you dirty dance! I know you get crazy!
Michelle: [Laughs] Yeah, when the opportunity arises, I can get a little freaky myself! But usually, I try to help out with my family, the grandkids, little sisters, stuff like that. TVG: So what was the toughest photo shoot for you?
Michelle: I'd have to say the first one [in which we played sexy extraterrestrials], because I didn't really know what the hell I was doing. TVG: You probably don't have a broad frame of reference to draw on there.
Michelle: Well, I'm a huge fan of Star Wars, so I tried to think about that a little. But it didn't help too much! TVG: Hey, if you can hack that, New York ought to be a piece of cake.
Michelle: I hope so. I don't really have a job or a place to stay or anything, but I'm working on that. June 1 is the day I'm leaving, no matter what. TVG: So you're not going back to wrestling?
Michelle: I actually have about three more wrestling shows left, and then I'm giving it up and heading to New York. TVG: Isn't that sort of a dangerous career for an aspiring model?
Michelle: Yeah, it can get a little risky when you're doing the moves off the ropes or something like that. Actually, not too long ago, I almost broke my nose in a match, and that really put it in perspective as far as which [career] is more important. I realized that modeling is what I want to do. But wrestling is a big thing for me, and I'm going to enjoy it while I can. TVG: So do you think you could take Janice in a wrestling match?
Michelle: Um... that would be a good match! I'd pay money to see that. That would be amusing. I think yeah, I would probably be able to take her down.