Lauren Utter, <EM>America's Next Top Model</EM> Lauren Utter, America's Next Top Model

Let's review, shall we? Pretty as she is, she posed like an action figure. She walked like she was wearing cement shoes. And she was about as likely to be chosen as a faux-perky CoverGirl as Courtney Love is to be cast as Pollyanna. Yet week after week, self-proclaimed "punk girl" Lauren Utter remained in the running on America's Next Top Model (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET, the CW). How did she do it? Why did she do it? In the wake of the New York artist's elimination, TVGuide.com rang her up to find out.

TVGuide.com: Given that the judges were basically on you every week, were you surprised when you finally were eliminated?
Lauren Utter: I'm kind of hardcore, if you can't tell. [But their judgments were] completely different for me, because I'm not used to all the attention being on my looks. That was weird. But I had a feeling I would go home, because my commercial sucked. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Since you went into it believing it was going to suck, do you think you psyched yourself out?
Lauren: I don't think I convinced myself I was going to do badly, and I don't think I was being cynical. But it was scary, because I'm not that kind of girl. CoverGirl is about being chipper, and I don't consider myself that.

TVGuide.com: What? You don't walk into a lot of Italian bistros applying lipstick before flirting with your boyfriend?
Lauren: [Laughs] I don't think I've ever done that, so I couldn't really relate!

TVGuide.com: Since you knew a CoverGirl contract was the prize on the show, didn't it occur to you that this might become an issue at some point?
Lauren: Yeah, but I didn't think it was going to be in Italian.They really don't give you enough time — you have to memorize the script in the time it takes to get your hair and makeup done! That's a lot to ask from someone.

TVGuide.com: Are you saying you could've pulled it off if it had been in English?
Lauren: I could have at least played with making it ironic. I do well in weird situations. I can laugh and smile, but to learn a language? That's kind of hard to fake!

TVGuide.com: You took pretty much constant flak from the judges about your walk. Why didn't you practice more?
Lauren: I practiced on the runway we had at the house, but they didn't show that, of course. It's frustrating when all the other girls are so advanced and really ahead of me. These girls have been walking [in heels] for years, and they've been living the dream of being a model. I just recently went in that direction.

TVGuide.com: Is it true that this was your first time in heels?
Lauren: Yup. [Laughs] You can't exactly be wearing heels when you're in a boxcar, can you? I didn't learn as fast as America wanted me to, [but everything on the show] happens really fast! I want to continue to get better, but I need to do that in my own time.

TVGuide.com: Given their constant criticism of you, what do you think made the judges keep you week after week?
Lauren: I think when you're comparing me to some of the other girls who've been doing this for years, some of my photos turned out better than theirs. Maybe there was some natural talent that they saw.

TVGuide.com: So do you think you did punk girls proud?
Lauren: I hope so! I didn't change myself for the CoverGirl thing. I can't really pull a pseudo-personality out of nowhere. I really wish I'd done well, but I'm not good at lying.

TVGuide.com: Do your friends tease you about how glamorous you became?
Lauren: They hate the fact that they're watching the show and getting into it, because these are people who are strongly against it. It's against everything they believe in, so sometimes they call me a sellout. I hope I changed a few perceptions of what a top model can be.

TVGuide.com: What was the most valuable lesson you left the show with — aside from the proper way to cut onions?
Lauren: [Laughs] The kitten paw [technique]! I know that now! I've learned that I can be as pretty as the typical girls and still have the other side of me. I know the difference between the real Lauren and the one in front of the camera. I'd say that's a really good lesson to learn.

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