As many times as America's Next Top Model runner-up Chantal Jones declared that she was born to pose, you couldn't help but worry about her emotional state in the wake of her loss last week. But when TVGuide.com caught up with the 19-year-old Texan, she seemed as confident and upbeat as ever. Is she for real? Read on and draw your own conclusion.
TVGuide.com: First things first — what went through your mind when, during the final runway challenge, you realized you'd taken down the extra on stilts?
Chantal Jones: [Laughs] Oh, my god! It was pretty crazy. I was, like, in my zone — or trying to be. I was full of nerves as it was, and all of a sudden, I feel something tugging on my dress, and I look back and the guy is on the ground. I can't describe the feeling. I was embarrassed, and concerned for the guy who fell, and scared like, "This is all I need!" I was just, like, "Get me off this runway as fast as possible!"
TVGuide.com: Did he survive his fall?
Chantal: I didn't get to talk to him afterward. I wanted to, and I talked to a lot of people to see if he was OK, but I never got to actually talk to him.
TVGuide.com: I assume technically the accident was his fault, right? I mean, he stepped on you, not the other way around!
Chantal: You know, it was just a freak accident. I mean, yes, he did step on the train, but it was windy. He was just doing his job, and I was just doing mine. We were just two innocent people who both got embarrassed and hurt in one way or another.
TVGuide.com: Did you find out later what a model is supposed to do in that situation?
Chantal: You're just supposed to keep going and act as if nothing happened. But that's the hardest thing in the world to do, because, you're human and your natural reaction if you trip somebody or you see somebody fall is to look and want to help them, right? And apologize if you're involved! That's what I wanted to do — turn around and help him, but I realized that I had to act as if nothing had happened and this was just a normal day. It was rough, really rough.
TVGuide.com: No humanity on the runway! Were you surprised that Jenah got cut before you did? She seems to have the high-fashion look that Tyra Banks is always going on about.
Chantal: I was a little surprised by that, because Jenah was really strong throughout the whole competition. She took great pictures every single week. But it's about CoverGirl, you know what I mean? [And in our CoverGirl shoot], she was just a little weaker than me, and that's what it all came down to that day. I think she's a great model, but CoverGirl just isn't for her.
TVGuide.com: Any regrets about giving her such a harsh critique in panel?
Chantal: Yes! Definitely! I never wanted to say anything bad about Jenah. I love that girl. We're friends, but we had to pull something out of our buns and answer the question of who should be here and who shouldn't be here. It's an impossible situation. You've got two wonderful girls… what can you say? And they're both my friends! So that's a difficult situation to be in. It was hard for all of us.
TVGuide.com: At least you didn't seem to have any trouble stepping forward and saying, "For sure, I'm the girl with the most potential." Confidence — not a big issue for you.
Chantal: Well, that's the easy question, when they say, "Who should be here?" Of course I think I should be here! I've been doing all this work and everything. But when it comes down to the question of who shouldn't be here when they're both really good competitors and two really nice girls, that's a hard question to answer.
TVGuide.com: Of the critiques the judges gave you, which was the hardest to take?
Chantal: I hate hearing I'm an amateur. Of course I'm an amateur! This is all new to me, and I'm still learning. That was always hard to hear. It's all hard to hear, but at the same time, it's all good because it tells you what you need to work on. These are professionals. They are not amateurs, they know what is successful in this industry and what I need to do to become a top model. So listening to their critiques was helpful, because how will I get better if I don't know what to work on?
TVGuide.com: It must have been much easier to hear, "Oh, Chantal looks like a young Cheryl Tiegs."
Chantal: That was awesome! I was like, "Oh my god, thank you!" That really helped with my confidence. The critique is good in its own way, but without a little bit of positive feedback, you really start to doubt yourself.
TVGuide.com: You're too young for Cheryl Tiegs to have been a modeling inspiration. Who did you look up to as a kid?
Chantal: I've always just looked through the Victoria's Secret catalog. Now that I know a little bit more about this industry, not all supermodels are in the spotlight as much as people in Hollywood and movies and stuff. Now that I've done a little more research, I love Jessica Stam. I think she's one of my biggest inspirations right now. I'd love to be in her shoes!
TVGuide.com: To hear you talk, you not only will be but you must be, because you've said over and over that you were born to do this.
Chantal: Exactly! I'm not stopping anytime soon. I'm just waiting for the next big opportunity, and then I'm going to jump on it and take it as far as I can go. I'm excited to see what's going to happen, and I have no idea.
TVGuide.com: How do you know that you were born to model in particular? You seem like a bright, outgoing young woman. You could change the world, but you want to… model. Why?
Chantal: Ever since I was a little girl, everyone around me — my parents and everyone else — instilled it in my head, to tell you the truth. It was just something where I said, "OK, I'm going to be a model. Everybody says so!" I'm 6 feet tall, naturally really thin, love being in front of the camera…. So I think this is a really great opportunity for me to jump on it. Why would I let that go to waste? It's a talent that I was given, so I think I should take advantage of it. I think it'll bring me opportunities to do everything else that I want to do, to make a difference in the world. I don't even know what I'm going to do yet. It's all a surprise!
Check out our Q&A with Top Model winner Saleisha.
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