It's not often that the person who didn't win America's Next Top Model upstages the winner.
[SPOILERS! The following contains spoilers about events in the All-Stars finale, including who won the 17th cycle of America's Next Top Model.]
But that's exactly what happened when Lisa D'Amato took the All-Stars crown Wednesday night, following the announcement that fellow finalist, Angelea Preston, had been disqualified for an undisclosed breach of contract. Unconfirmed reports claim that Preston had originally won but leaked the outcome online, which then forced Top Model to DQ her. The finale was reportedly reshot two months later.
"You're in a competition where girls drop like flies after lunch, so you're already set in this mentality," D'Amato, 31, told TVGuide.com Thursday. "That's the way the cookie crumbles, you know? To me, it's like, 'OK, we're moving on.' In terms of the competition, and in the Final 3, Allison and I were going toe to toe with the challenge wins and best pictures and all that."
D'Amato's pragmatic approach extends to her image (she admits she wasn't the youngest or prettiest in the competition), her post-win attitude and how she chooses to address her haters, of which there are many. She dishes on last night's aftermath:
How does winning feel?
Lisa D'Amato: It's definitely surreal, but it's kind of not as surreal as it could be. I've been working so hard in this town for so long that it's like finally the universe is taking notice of my hard work. It's my time. It definitely is, and my heart knows it. I couldn't be more prepared and ready and appreciative. I'm going to take it to the stars.
How hard was it to keep your win a secret? What pressure were you getting from your friends and family to tell who won?
D'Amato: Keeping the secret is definitely hard, and it's been fun to come out and say it out loud in the world. It is a competition on your looks and your age — whether you say it or not, whether you admit it or not. I think that me not telling them, they all just kind of assumed that I didn't win. Even though they all know in terms of talent I definitely have it in the bag, but at the end of the day, everything is politics. It is superficial. I may not be the prettiest girl in the world and I'm not the youngest. We get it. We're obsessed with the fountain of youth, but can we get a fountain of smart up in here?
What was your first thoughts when you saw your face revealed and you knew you had won?
D'Amato: It was a really emotional validation because you grow up as a kid hearing, "You work hard and prosper. Be genuine to yourself, and everything will be OK." It's kind of, you get jaded and you come from a town [Los Angeles] where scandal gets rewarded and selling out gets rewarded. I've always stayed very true to myself and I'm definitely always perfecting my craft, if it's acting, if it's singing, if it's rapping, whatever. It never came my way. So it was just validation that there is a force to be reckoned with if you are a hard worker and you follow your dreams and you stay true to who you are.
Are you going to have a celebration now that your win is public?
D'Amato: Oh no, the celebrating is over. I can't wait to just work and throw myself into every project possible. It's not about celebrating, it's about taking it to the place. I'm incredibly driven. I'm so driven I want to drive myself over most of the time. I'm just so happy now that everyone knows so we can move forward.
What's next? What is moving forward?
D'Amato: I'm definitely a person that doesn't like to talk about but likes to be about it. I have my iPhone app. Earth to Lisa is my free iPhone app that's downloadable. The new video will come out tomorrow on that. You get to see where I am after the win. I also have my album, Flipping the Bird. It's awesome. I have my producers like the Cataracts, and my producer Aqua who comes from the Rockafella family. The video for my song, "Whiplash," which is produced by the Cataracts comes out tomorrow. Everyone needs to hit me up on my Twitter @LisaDAmato and on my website, LisaDAmato.com. Everyone will find out what's going on. Things are just going so fast.
Can you discuss your TV project? Will you be in front of the camera acting or just being Lisa?
D'Amato: I'm working on a TV project that I've been working on for a couple years now. Absolutely, it is about me.
"Daring" was the branding word they gave you. What daring things are you involved in now, beyond Top Model?
D'Amato: Daring in general is my DNA, regardless of a branding word. I always thought my brand was "fearless," so when they gave me "daring," it just fell right into place. I think the most daring thing I could ever do and I'm doing more than ever is it's so easy to be cool, but I'm really letting people see who I am. I'm not scared. I come from very humble beginnings and I'm definitely willing to share all those experiences. I'm putting a spotlight on freearts.org, which is an organization that helps kids who are in abusive homes find creative outlets and express themselves and who they are. I would have loved to have had this when I was younger.
Your fiancee was seen on the show. Are there any updates with him?
D'Amato: I still have my fiancee. We haven't gotten married just yet.
Is there a wedding date set?
D'Amato: Yeah, but it keeps moving because we're so busy. It's crazy.
Do you plan on growing your hair out? I know you didn't want to cut your hair because of your upcoming wedding.
D'Amato: At the end of the day I can always get extensions. I like my hair short. It just takes so long to grow my hair out. I've never had long hair in so long. I'm going to have fun with my hair short. Actually, what's funny is that my fiancee loves it short.
Your trip and the finale was in Greece. What was one of your favorite things about Greece?
D'Amato: This is going to sound crazy, but being from Los Angeles, it's a fact that kids that are raised in metro areas, they see 500 advertisements a day. My favorite thing about Greece is they are who they are. They're not forced into this way of what they need to be because of advertisements. It's just a beautiful, free country. When you drive the street, you're seeing mountains, you're not seeing a lapband billboard. That's what I loved there so much. I will make a reason to go back there, whenever I want to go back — if it's performing and doing a show there or vacation. It's absolutely breathtaking.
What's going on with the blog now? That's part of the win, right? What do you want to say with it?
D'Amato: Yes, I have a blog on LisaDAmato.com and I have a Tumblr. But I also won a blog on Vogue Italia also. I wrote my first entry, so it should be up. I think one of my favorite things aobut blogging is really letting people see a deeper side to you. People know me from the editing as being crazy, daring, in your face and always expressing myself with bright colors and living out loud if you will. That all comes from humble things. A lot of kids reach out to me and ask me about child abuse or sexual abuse or all these things. I love being an inspiration to them because you fall into this thing of you are going to be a statistic, or the "dreams come true, but not for you or your type." I love blogging about a deeper sense of being. Also, being the girl from Los Angeles, I find the coolest things in terms of fashion. So I find things first and can say, "Hey guys, check this out." I love mix and matching everything. I know everyone does that but I do it in a different way.
What's the most interesting response you've been getting from Facebook and Twitter since you get such instant reactions from fans?
D'Amato: I'm going to be totally honest about this. I get a lot of hate. People usually say don't even address them, but I'm strong enough that it's not going to stop me from doing what I do at all. But I think there needs to be an awareness towards these kids who are writing all these hateful things online. It does affect whoever you're writing it to. I know that they're saying it because probably in their own lives they're not being heard. But words do hurt. Look how many kids are committing suicide with bullying and cyber hate. It's getting pretty horrible. It's not just going into thin air. These words aren't disappearing. Someone's reading it, and we're all human. We all just want to be loved. So a lot of the time I'll address it. I'll say, "I can hear you. I'm listening to what you're saying." One of my favorite quotes I have on the website that I live by to show that I'm strong is: "I don't care what people write or say about me. I only wish I could pick the color and the font." And kids when they see me write back to an online bully, they go, "Oh my God, that was so great. Can I use that at school tomorrow?" I'm like, "Of course!" So I think firsthand I'm glad to be part of this movement.
Did you make friends with anyone from All-Stars that you talk to?
D'Amato: Yeah, I loved so many of the all-stars. Brittany of course. The girls I was closest to in the house were Laura and Shannon. Weird, right because I'm supposed to be more like the b----y girls or whatever. They're like the good girls. (laughs) I would say to them, "Don't tell anyone! It'll ruin my reputation!" I'm actually a really good girl and confident. Also Dominique and Allison. Also I'd do Angelea's nails every week. I got along with all the girls except for Bianca. If Bianca was in the house with Bianca, Bianca wouldn't get along with Bianca. There would be no Bianca because Bianca would kill Bianca. Yeah, it'd be a double homicide, absolutely.
What's your take on Lisa as the winner? Has your opinion of her changed after reading this?