You had to feel for America's Next Top Model contestant Dionne Walters. First Tyra Banks and her prickly panel of judges didn't like the way the 20-year-old Alabaman dressed. Then they didn't like the way she posed. Then, finally, since they didn't even like the way she smiled, they gave her a reason to frown: They booted her... in favor of bizarre, bubble-headed Natasha, no less. Still, the single mom sees the constant criticism she received almost as a compliment — and not in an "I don't understand what you mean, so I'm just going to smile and nod" Natasha kind of way, either. Here, she explains her reasoning to TVGuide.com.
TVGuide.com: Well, I gotta tell you, I lost 20 bucks last night. I had money on you going to the final three!
Dionne Walters: [Laughs] I wish I could have done it for you! Sorry!
TVGuide.com: That's OK. I have $50 on Renee to win the whole thing. What bugs me, though, is that they kept Natasha over you!
Dionne: I was a little surprised, too, considering how they did say that she fell flat in her photo shoot.
TVGuide.com: Fell flat? She fell asleep. Her photo doesn't look like heroin chic, it looks like DayQuil tacky.
Dionne: [When I saw her picture], I was like "What the hell is that?" You know what I mean? [Laughs] I thought my photo was a lot more professional than hers.
TVGuide.com: Professional shmofessional — it was gorgeous! Plus, you really warmed up, which they kept harping on you to do.
Dionne: I know, right? I was so comfortable with the whole thing once I got over the challenge with the [Australian tribal] dance. The next day, the weather was completely different. It was a lot warmer. I thought I did an excellent job with the shoot! But I guess the judges thought otherwise. Maybe they'd already decided who they wanted to [let go] from the beginning. You just never know.
TVGuide.com: Do you think Mr. Jay's comments about you after the shoot doomed you?
Dionne: I don't think that did me in. I think what got me was when Tyra asked the final question, "Who has the most potential to be America's Next Top Model?" I thought she meant which of the girls standing behind me, so right there, that was a lack of communication. I think that's what did me in.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, I wouldn't have known that "Me!" was an option!
Dionne: [Laughs] Yeah, that was kind of weird. Then, when we got to the bottom two, she said, "You were the only girl who didn't name yourself as having the most potential," and I was thinking to myself, "Hold up! Wait a minute, I thought you meant out of the other three girls and not including myself!" But I couldn't say anything then, so there was no way to defend myself.
TVGuide.com: You were damned if you did, damned if you didn't. If you had done it, they would have told you that you were an egomaniac.
Dionne: I know, right? I think the judges sometimes contradict themselves. They'll tell you one thing and then turn around and tell you the exact opposite the next time. They have confused a lot of girls on that show. Seriously!
TVGuide.com: They need a mental health program for you all to go into once the show is over.
Dionne: They do, because we did get confused quite a few times. They say something like, "OK, make sure you're standing up straight and that you keep your back straight" and then they'll say, "During this photo shoot, we need you to have a hump in your back" or something. And we'd be like, "Hold up, they just told us to stand up straight! Which one is it?"
TVGuide.com: At least they were consistent in nailing you for scowling in every picture.
Dionne: I wouldn't say every picture. But in some of the pictures, that mean look was on the film. But I don't think it was in every frame or even every picture. When you look at the first, second, third and so on, I don't even have the same expression in those pictures. I think it was kind of an issue, but it was just a natural look for me. I don't know that I'm doing that until someone says, "Hey, Dionne, are you mad or something?" That's the only time I realize I'm doing it!
TVGuide.com: Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seemed like you kinda lost your "oomph" toward the end.
Dionne: I've had someone else say that it looked like I was giving up, but I actually wasn't. It was just that when we had to do that dance, I was kinda confused by the whole thing. I was like, "How do you dance and tell a story?" But at the same time, I said, "You know what? I'm just gonna do what I think. I didn't want to be out there in the first place! It was extremely cold and we had to wear these little, thin tube tops.... Who the hell wears that in the wilderness?! It was freezing! I was overtaken by the whole weather thing, and it completely took me out of my focus.
TVGuide.com: They love to make you guys as cold as possible, I've noticed.
Dionne: I know! And that's so crazy, right? But I guess that's part of the challenge. You have to do some things that you don't really want to do or go some places you don't really want to go! That was one of those places that I just did not want to be.
TVGuide.com: Was it as bad as being in panel with Tyra picking on your hair and clothes every week? I mean, she was on you!
Dionne: She really gave me a hard time about that! But I think that it was because she was trying to find something in me. There was something about me that she liked, and she wanted to see me change up just a little bit to see what I would look like. But during the whole process, I was like, "OK, what's wrong with what I'm wearing? What's wrong with my hair? I thought I had it together!" At first I didn't really understand where she was coming from, but then I thought, "Maybe she keeps saying this because she really wants to see if I'm going to crack under pressure." But I was like, "Whatever. I'm not going to show her I'm mad or that maybe I don't agree with her. I'm just gonna be like, 'OK, I'll try something else and see if she likes that.'"
TVGuide.com: It's almost like a compliment if she's paying you that much attention. At least she's noticing you!
Dionne: I know, right? That's the plus side of it!
TVGuide.com: TV Guide's Rochell D. Thomas recently wrote that she was sick of hearing reality-show contestants — you included — go on and on about how much they miss their babies, when obviously you all knew what you were signing up for. Care to respond?
Dionne: OK, for me, first of all, I did not get on this show and constantly say, "I'm doing this for my baby." Yes, of course I was doing it for her, but most of all, I was doing it for myself. This is something that I want to do and something that I want to pursue. Of course, once you get that little bit of fame, anybody would be like, "I did this for my family," because once you hit it big, of course you're going to provide for your family. So I think [that writer] should have come up with some better opinion than that. I'm sure if she has children or a niece or nephew or a sick mother or something, I bet she's providing for them and not doing it for herself. That's my point of view on that. Everybody does not have a silver spoon in their mouth.
TVGuide.com: Mm-hmm. So, um, what's next for Dionne?
Dionne: I definitely want to continue to model. This is an experience that I'll never forget. I want to do this for myself most of all, but for my family as well, because they are so proud of me. So I want to continue to make them proud of me. If somebody wants me to play a role in a movie or something, with the right coaching and prices, I definitely will do it!
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