America’s Next Top Model Sheena Sakai on Her Exit

Courtesy: The CW/Jaimie Trueblood

Sheena Sakai became the second America’s Next Top Model All-Star to be eliminated from the competition on last Wednesday’s show when she failed to be “unexpected” in her photo shoot.

Now, as the series returns tonight with an all-new challenge, Sheena talks to us about why she feels being assigned the word unexpected to model was an honor, how Top Model helped her career and how she is really going in another direction.

So, tell me after you finished America’s Next Top Model the first time around, did you think it was a good thing? Did it help you out?

Absolutely, because it gave me a lot of recognition and I’ve gained so many fans. I never knew that I could appeal to a lot of people that way and it really touched me and in that sense I was really grateful.  I also was more recognizable when I went out for jobs or interviews.

Were there some highpoints in your modelling career along the way since then, something that we might have seen?

Well, I’ve never really considered myself a model and even going on the show the first time, I was honored to be asked to try out for it, so I thought, “Why not have fun?” But honestly, I’m more of a commercial or glamour model and I’ve always said that and accept that.  I’m now doing fashion shows and runway shows for designers who are friends of mine but other than that I’m more of an entertainer, so I like to go with that aspect.

Were you making a living as a commercial model?

Yes.  I’ve done commercials, but I’ve also been able to travel and host different shows. I’m more of a TV personality/model I suppose.

Do you think it’s harder for you being Asian or is there something that makes you special because of that?

It’s both yes and no, because being an Asian, you’re a minority and there’s not many of us in the industry who are prominent or recognized.  So, I think personality goes a long way and, lucky for me, I have one, so I use that and it really does help. It plays to my advantage but at the same time, the downside is you’re always typecast when you do get submitted for roles or when you are up for a job.

Courtesy: Pottle Productions Inc./Ricky Middlesworth

So, why did you decided to do the show this time around and did you hope it would boost something in your career?

Honestly, I had no idea it was for Top Model when I was first approached.  I thought it was a completely different show about branding, about taking some familiar faces and putting them all together.  So, as soon as I started to listen more, I asked, “Well, does it have something to do with Top Model,” and they’re like, “Yes, it is, it’s our show.”  So, I was like, “Oh, God. OK. Well let me think on it,” and I thought about it, I talked to some friends and they said it was a good idea and I should do it for the fans. I felt like I should come back for them because that’s what they were saying, the fans want to see a show like this.  The fans want to see us again on TV.  A lot of my fans have asked me, “When are you going to be on TV again?  I want to see you back on.”  So, I thought, “Maybe it’s a good time.” The only thing I requested is that they did not touch my hair.

They honoured that, right, because they did cut some of the girl’s hair.

I felt bad for Bre because Bre makes a lot of money with her hair. She has gorgeous, natural hair and that’s why she was so upset. They didn’t show that, but she definitely makes her most money as a hair model and that is big check. It’s like a year salary.  So, I totally felt for her on that.

Well, but once they cut it there was nothing she could do anyway.

Well, the thing is they said that they would only cut it short, but they ended up shaving it on the side and they didn’t do a good job and with black hair you have to know what you’re doing; it’s a different texture and stuff.


I would’ve walked away.  I would’ve not let anybody come near chopping my hair off.  Lisa and Bre are really true troopers.

So, how was being in the house with the former contestants different than the first time around?

It was much different.  I’d only stayed for a few weeks so my time there was really nice.  I think that everyone was just really calm and really excited and we’ve done this before so we kind of know what to expect.  They’re mentally prepared for being isolated at times and being with strangers and constantly being on camera. It’s an adjustment and you adjust really quickly and adapt but I think that after a while because you’re in an unnatural situation, that’s when the stress comes back and the tension and the pressure.  So, I’m kind of glad that I’m out of all that.  I really don’t like drama, so they did me a favor.

So, your word was unexpected, what did that mean to you?

Unexpected was definitely an honor, I love the word.  I always thought I was different and unique and I thought Allison and I shared that same quality so I really enjoyed it. I think they know what they’re doing and they’re experts at analyzing the market that way.  So, I think that I agree. I agree and I accept.

It’s hard to model a word, isn’t it?

You know at Top Model everything is kind of over the top, so you can’t take it too seriously. It’s like life. You can’t take anything too serious. You have to have fun, it’s a circus.

On your exit, you said you didn’t get to show your star quality, what do you think your star quality is?

It’s everything. I can do so much and I know that this cycle they’re going to do a lot of things that I can do and do well.  I’m a musician, I’m an artist, I’m an actor; I do all that.  I’m a dancer.  So, they’re going to be doing a lot of those fun entertainment aspects of the industry.  Not that I’m not able to do that on my own but I just wanted to do it on that show with my girls. I mean they are going to judge you for what you do, but they can’t tell you if you’re good or not, honestly.  So, make it happen in the real world.

Who do you think has the shot of winning this season?

I really feel like Allison will win. I really do because Allison is so unique and I love her so much and I think she’s an incredible person. She’s so brilliant, she’s very gifted and talented in her own way and she has a great spirit.  I feel like she deserves it and a lot of people love her. All the fans love her, all the girls love her, like she’s a lovable person.

What’s next for you?

Well, I’m currently working on a music project.  I have a new show coming out on the 27th with Halogen called Noble Exchange, I was just doing this in advance and I’m still working in television.  Everyone can follow me on the website or twitter @sheenasakai. Everything’s on there.  If anyone wants to check it out, go ahead.  Find out what’s going on with me and I’ll keep everyone updated through there.

America’s Next Top Model airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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