They gave her what was probably the worst hairdo since Saleisha's Tootie cut. They picked on her clothes so mercilessly, a lesser woman might've taken a match to her closet. And, in the end, they decided she was too transvestite-looking to win America's Next Top Model (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET, the CW). But no matter what Tyra Banks and her fellow judges said or did, indefatigable Dominique Reighard just kept plugging away, defying the odds and taking kickass pictures. She's so chill about the whole thing that we can't even hold it against her that she went weeks referring to herself in third person. Read on and see if you don't decide to let that go, too.
TVGuide.com: I think the judges gave you a much harder time than anyone else this season.
Dominique Reighard: I hate to say I agree, but I do! [Laughs] It's OK, though. When you sign up to be on a reality show or in this industry, everyone is going to have an opinion about you. If you can't deal with it and grow from it, then don't do it.
TVGuide.com: The other girls actually seemed to have stronger opinions about you than the judges.
Dominique: Well, I definitely wasn't going to waste my time worrying about everybody else's opinion. The only thing I focused on was getting better. What the other girls in the house had to say didn't bother me because they didn't determine whether I stayed or went home.
TVGuide.com: Do you think what rubbed the other girls so the wrong way was the fact that you talked an awful lot about how confident you are?
Dominique: Honestly, I can run my mouth for days. There were times when we were really bored, so all I did was talk! I know that sometimes I can get on other people's nerves, but honestly, I thought I was entertaining them. I wasn't trying to offend anybody. Most of the time, I thought I was encouraging everybody else. I thought. "If you're annoyed by it, go into the other room. If you want to hear what I have to say, stay and I'll entertain you."
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you attracted so much drama? Jealousy?
Dominique: If you put all these girls with these strong personalities together in one household, what do you expect? Of course we're going to clash and get into it! But I always kept some level of integrity with myself. If I said something that hurt someone's feelings, what they didn't show was that I apologized.
TVGuide.com: By the end, it seemed like the girls were struggling to come up with new things to pick on. I mean, what was up with Whitney being so upset that you eat junk food?
Dominique: [Laughs] I carry candy with me because we're standing all day, every day. It becomes really tiring sometimes, so you need some sugar. And people were always stealing my candy stash, especially Whitney! So I eat a lot of candy — who cares?
TVGuide.com: Speaking of eating habits, do you think they're cutting Whitney extra slack because they really want a plus-size girl to win for a change?
Dominique: I'm really proud of Whitney for having made it as far as she has. It's difficult being a model, let alone a plus-size one. As far as cutting her some slack, of course you would expect me to say yes, just because I took so much heat. [Laughs] But I think it's about time [a plus-size contestant won].
TVGuide.com: I'm almost not surprised to hear you say that because the girls I've interviewed as they come off the show have said very nice things about you. Fatima, on the other hand…
Dominique: At the end of the day, it's not really all that important [what we argue about]. It's funny how things can be perceived so much differently than how they really are. I don't take it so seriously, because to me, it was funny and people enjoyed watching this cycle. And Fatima sometimes she can be a little antagonizing, but at the same time, she's a really sweet girl.
TVGuide.com: With no other way to entertain yourselves, bickering sure passes the time!
Dominique: The family that fights together stays together — isn't that what they say? There are some ups and there are some downs, but in the end, I've shared this experience with these girls and there's something really special about that. I can't sit here and hold things against people or be angry or resentful. Life is too short.
TVGuide.com: C'mon, you're not at least a little sore about all the transvestite remarks you kept getting from the judges?
Dominique: Honestly, I took being called a transvestite as a compliment. I mean, transvestites are some of the most beautiful women in the world. They carry themselves sometimes better than most women. There's so much grace, poise, and the makeup and hair are perfect.
TVGuide.com: After all the grief they gave you about your wardrobe, are you planning to design a line of Top Model-approved clothing?
Dominique: I've really been thinking about that. I think it's important to have fun with your clothes. That outfit I had on two episodes ago, with the orange shirt — I don't know what happened. I looked at it on TV and was Tyra was right — I looked terrible. But I can see myself on television, with all my ups and downs, and at the end of the day, I know who I am. I'm still learning and growing as a young woman and, regardless of anything, I'm eventually going to get where I'm going in life. I want people to have fun with me.
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