Think it takes guts to audition for America's Next Top Model? Don't make me laugh. That's child's play compared to the nerve it takes to remove oneself from the competition. And that's exactly what 20-year-old Ebony Morgan did in last week's episode — a series first that left Tyra Banks spitting mad. "There's nothing less attractive than a quitter," she hissed. But if you ask me, there are few things more inspiring than a young woman with the strength of character to not only realize that what she thought she wanted isn't what she wanted, but to stand up and say, "No offense, but this just isn't for me." Here, TVGuide.com lets Morgan explain herself at lengths that her bullying benefactor seemed wholly disinclined to.
TVGuide.com: How did you reach the decision to remove yourself from the competition?
Ebony Morgan: It wasn't a spur-of-the-moment thing. That's something I thought over, like, two weeks before it happened. I just really wasn't happy there. I missed my family, I was really homesick, and I just wanted out. At that point, nothing was holding me back. I wasn't enjoying myself at all.
TVGuide.com: Was it modeling that you didn't like, or being on the show?
Ebony: Reality TV. Reality TV is not something I'm interested in. I never got used to the cameras following you around and the microphones, not being able to talk to your family as much. I just couldn't handle it. I'm definitely interested in modeling, just not in reality TV shows.
TVGuide.com: Why did you wait until Tyra offered you your picture and a chance to continue to tell her, "Thanks but no thanks"?
Ebony: Well, there were a few things I could have done. Like not go to panel at all, or during my individual evaluation, tell her then. I just thought that would be inappropriate. I wanted to wait for the end. And then I wasn't sure [what would happen].... I mean, she might not have called my name. But when she did, it was like, "OK, I have to go through with this."
TVGuide.com: You're probably the first girl to ever be in the bottom two and think, "Oh, please, please, please don't call my name!"
Ebony: Yeah, at that point, that's how I felt.
TVGuide.com: Tyra seemed incredibly ticked off.
Ebony: Um... I couldn't really tell. She was smiling when it happened, but I'm pretty sure she was a little upset, because she totally wasn't expecting that. I guess she was [mad], 'cause she did call me a quitter.
TVGuide.com: I think her exact words were, "There's nothing less attractive than a quitter. See ya!"
Ebony: [Laughs] Yeah, OK, I think she was upset.
TVGuide.com: Has she been in contact since?
Ebony: No. Tyra and I have had no contact thus far.
TVGuide.com: Interesting. She always portrays herself as such a mother hen to the girls, and here, one of her chicks obviously went through something rough... and nothing.
TVGuide.com: Well, you sound good — much happier than you ever did on the show. Are you back in nursing school now?
Ebony: Yeah, I am. And I just got my own place, so I'm extremely excited about that.
TVGuide.com: With unlimited access to a phone so you can call your family.
Ebony: [Laughs] Exactly.
TVGuide.com: You know, talking to you — and having watched as the season went on — it's hard to see you as this cycle's bitch, which you proclaimed you were going to be. Do you sort of regret having said that?
Ebony: You know, I don't really regret many things I've done in my life, but that's one thing I really regret. I wish I'd been myself throughout the whole competition. Going into it, I had this preconceived notion that reality TV shows want drama.... They want a drama queen who is going to [stir things up], so I created that person in trying to make it on the show and later was confronted by the girls and by Tyra, which I totally deserved, because I was totally out of control. When I made the semifinal cut, I told myself, "When I get to the house, I'm just going to be myself." So I went into the house and got along with the girls. I'm really not a confrontational person, nor a mean person. I'm a really nice person.
TVGuide.com: For what it's worth, I believe you. What's been the reaction of people back home since you've been back?
Ebony: I talked to my dad and he said, "You're still my America's Next Top Model." So my family is very supportive. And to my surprise, [strangers] are very supportive. Like, I go on the blogs and they're very supportive of my decision.
TVGuide.com: That's almost surprising, given that there are so many girls who wanted your spot.
Ebony: There were a few people who felt that [I should've stuck it out], but there were more who said, "I respect Ebony for standing up and not being intimidated by Tyra into going through with the competition even though she didn't want to be there."
TVGuide.com: At the last panel, they decided that you have a problem with authority figures. Do you think that's true?
Ebony: That is definitely so not true. I don't know if they felt that way because I didn't speak up that much, but I didn't want to come off as disrespectful. So when Mr Jay or Miss J or Tyra would say something about me, I would just stand there and listen to them talk. At the end, I didn't speak up or say anything, I would just say thank you and walk away. That's the only thing I can think of. I don't know why else they would think or say that.
TVGuide.com: And if you did speak up, they'd just brand you as "prickly" the same way they did Victoria.
Ebony: That's what was weird as well. If you are combative, then you're... [Pauses] Like, Victoria got sent home for that!
TVGuide.com: When you left the show, did they make you give back your extensions, or did you get to keep them?
Ebony: [Laughs] I kept that!
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