Talk about a photo op: When Tyra Banks went all Donald Trump on America's Next Top Model last week, cutting two contestants instead of one, jaws dropped. But while the diva made it clear that she'd had it up to her Harry Winston earrings with eliminee Tiffany Richardson's negativity, her reasons for dropping all-American ex-flight attendant Rebecca Epley were a bit more nebulous. ("Lack of progress"? Please.) Perhaps the 22-year-old Minnesotan mannequin was just a victim of Banks' bad mood. As the remaining waifs prepare to face the Victoria's Secret bra-filler's wrath yet again (tomorrow at 8 pm/ET on UPN), we rang up Rebecca to get her take on things.
TVGuide.com: Do you think you got cut because Miss Tyra was feeling cranky?
Rebecca Epley: Oh, that never even crossed my mind until you said it just now.
Rebecca: No. I don't think [that's why I got cut]. I think the reason I went home was exactly what Tyra said: My progression wasn't as strong as the other girls' from week to week, and I couldn't do the sexy photo shoots. TVG: Well, you get an A for perspective, anyway. What went through your head when you saw that the photo in Tyra's hands was blank?
Rebecca: I was hoping the blank photo meant [Tiffany and I would] both be sticking around! That's what I was really hoping she would say, but she pulled it out and kind of looked at us and said, "You've both been eliminated." That caught me off guard. But I said, "OK, Tyra's the boss; we gotta go." TVG: When she called you and Tiffany back to stand in front of her again, did you think, "Oh, my god, she's changing her mind! I'm going to get another chance!"?
Rebecca: Oh, I had, like, half a second of hope. But I kind of knew. We'd already said our goodbyes. I didn't think she would really wait until the last second to say, "OK, surprise! Come back!" I didn't know why she was really calling us back, and then [her fight with Tiffany] went down... I was really shocked. I was just worried about saying goodbye to all of my friends. Reality just smacked me in the face that I was going, and then it was like, "OK, now what?" TVG: How awkward was it to stand next to Tiffany all through Tyra's tirade?
Rebecca: I just sort of put my head down a little bit and took a half step backward. I didn't want her to look over at me and all of a sudden say I'd done something wrong, so I just wanted to back out and be a spectator. TVG: Aside from that incident, what was the worst part of doing the show — fear of getting fleas from working with the dogs, fear of getting cooties from working with Michelle or passing out during the judging?
Rebecca: [Laughs] Well, there was a lot of hard stuff, but it really did throw me off when the whole passing-out episode happened. What an inopportune moment! And it was physically hard to do the ballet challenge right after. I had just fallen on my head, pretty much, and my whole body was extremely sore, and then the ballet [teacher] starts coming around and whapping [sic] on people with a stick. So that was kind of hard! TVG: Going home to get married after being eliminated had to be a nice consolation prize. How are the wedding plans coming?
Rebecca: It's already done! I got married in January! When I came home, it was like, "All right, we know this is what we want to do, so let's just do it!" We put a small wedding together, just family and friends, and did it all very quickly. It took about two weeks to get everything done, and I had the best day of my life! TVG: Were you tempted to ask Janice Dickinson to be your flower girl?
Rebecca: [Laughs] You know, I called her, but she said she was busy. That would have been a sight, huh? Janice walking down the aisle! You know she'd be sashaying, taking all the attention away from me. I couldn't let that happen! Thirsty for more juicy gossip about America's Next Top Model? Come back and read tomorrow's Insider for Tiffany Richardson's candid reaction to Tyra's angry tongue lashing!