Both Brittani Koine and Molly O’Connell had what it takes to become America’s Next Top Model, so it was a down-to-the-wire decision by the judges on who would walk away with the IMG modeling contract and the CoverGirl® commercial on last Wednesday’s season finale.
Molly was stronger when it came to photos; Brittani was better at runway. The tiebreaker was the filming of the CoverGirl® commercial – and the final haircuts.
Brittani emerged victorious, but her time on the show almost came to an end several weeks earlier when she and Alexandria Everett got into an argument at the Ford Warriors in Pink challenge. Tyra Banks was ready to send the 19-year-old from Beech Creek, PA home, but the other judges persuaded her to give Brittani another chance.
It paid off big time for Brittani. Now the stately brunette talks about what she learned from her confrontation with Alexandria, how she feels that Tyra hated her and what she is going to do with her $100,000 prize money.
I saw pictures of you at The CW upfront party yesterday. So what it is like for you now to start getting this celebrity treatment?
Brittani Koine: When I was at the party, I didn’t feel like a celebrity at all because I was, “Oh, my God. There is Rachel Bilson. There is Mario Lopez. I had my cell phone out. “Want to take a picture with me? I am the girl from Top Model.” I was just so excited to meet all these cool people and talk to them and mingle with them. I met so many awesome people yesterday. I don’t feel like a celebrity yet, but I am going to enjoy it once it sets in.
Finale night – I know you felt bad because your mom wasn’t there – but what were you feeling once you heard your name called?
Brittani Koine: I don’t even think I heard my name. I don’t remember hearing anything. My heart might have stopped working a little bit. I was in shock and I didn’t believe it. I did a little bit of a double take at my photo on the big screen. I was, “Oh, my gosh. I won.” I was so shocked and so happy. It was such an emotional time for me. The whole show, obviously, was a roller coaster, but once I won, I was finally in a good place in my life. Everything had paid off.
At the same time, you and Molly are really good friends. She told me yesterday that you are going to room together in New York, so was it hard from that standpoint?
Brittani Koine: It was a bittersweet thing. I was happy for myself. At the same time, I felt bad for taking Molly’s dream. But it was my dream, too, and only one of us could win. I don’t think there are any hard feelings. We talk every day. We are moving in together. We are going to do awesome things.
I think so because your strengths are different.
Brittani Koine: It would be awesome if we could do a campaign together someday because we have different looks, different personalities and attitudes. We complement each other very well, I think.
So when does your new life start?
Brittani Koine: I have no idea. I wish I was better informed. My fun started yesterday when I got to New York and went to The CW party. Now I am doing interviews. I was supposed to do TV yesterday, but I got so sick, I had to leave The CW green carpet. It was terrible timing.
Do they give you an apartment or anything?
Brittani Koine: I am sure IMG has a model house that I could live in, but it is not free. So Molly and I are just getting our own apartment in a cheaper area so it is easier for us to afford. The next step for me will be doing my Italian Vogue shoot in Paris. I am so excited because I have never been to Paris. I am absolutely stoked. I can’t wait.
Are you worried at all about your mom? Now with your IMG contract, you are getting your dream but you have to leave her behind.
Brittani Koine: I definitely am, “I don’t want to leave my mom,” because I take care of her and she takes care of me. It is like we are best friends; she is my mom; she is my everything. Leaving her is hard for me and it is going to be hard for her, but anytime I leave town, we talk to each other at least five or six times a day on the phone. It will be all right. She is planning on coming up to visit me. I am only four hours away in New York, so it won’t be too bad.
And if you make it really big, you will financially be able to take care of her.
Brittani Koine: That’s my biggest dream. With Top Model, I am not big enough yet to try to take care of her. I really hope I can strive to reach that level of greatness to take care of her and my grandparents if they are still around. All the people who have done something for me, I want to be able to give back.
Are you going to splurge on something?
Brittani Koine: No. There is nothing I really want. I don’t need anything. I am more concerned about saving money so I can go back to school whenever that time comes in my later years. I need to pay for my apartment and food for my little tummy. I am not worried about buying like a Mercedes or something.
I thought more along the lines of really nice pair of shoes or a handbag?
Brittani Koine: I am sure I will take myself on a shopping spree with maybe a couple of thousand dollars and treat myself to some new clothes, but I don’t want to splurge on anything super expensive. I think it is hard for me because I am so used to bargain shopping. I am a thrift store maniac. I don’t like spending money very much. I love the finer things in life. I love designer clothes, but unless I became extremely wealthy, I don’t know if I could bring myself to pay for them.
We have to talk about Alexandria. Why was it you that had the argument with her? All the girls seemed to back you. Has there been a resolution?
Brittani Koine: It all started in the beginning when I realized she was a psycho and nobody else in the house had the courage to stand up and say something. We were sick of her being rewarded for being such a terrible person. Once she won a thing for breast cancer – nobody cared about the car. I can’t speak for everyone. I didn’t want the car. I am moving to New York. I don’t need a car. But the fact that she got to represent something that meant so much to us girls because we knew people with breast cancer … I am not saying it didn’t mean anything to her, because I am sure it did … but the fact that people were going to look at that as a role model, I was, “Once they see the show and see how she acts, why would they want to look up to that?”
I got so angry and I was voicing my opinion and the girls were voicing their opinion with me. Every single one of us was involved until Alexandria said, “Oh, I can hear you.” If someone wants to call me out like that, I am not going to sit there and be, “Sorry.” That is just the kind of person that I am. If I feel passionate about something, I am going to speak my mind and say whatever I want. I don’t have a very big filter. It was the wrong place and the wrong time, I found out at panel, but I don’t regret it because everything happens for a reason.
Did you think that was going to cost you? Did you think you wouldn’t be able to win because of what happened? Tyra was ready to send you home.
Brittani Koine: She hated me. I definitely felt there was some strong hate. I didn’t want to be around her anymore after the things she said to me, but she got over it. I wasn’t comfortable around her for a very long time. I just felt that Alexandria was given one too many chances and, after I did one thing wrong, which I felt was not as bad as what she had done: directly insulting photographers, makeup artists, and hairstylists. I wasn’t trying to insult anybody but Alexandria. I am sorry that there happened to be a client in the room. Back in the makeup area, I wasn’t thinking of the client at all. I didn’t know there was a problem at all until I got to panel and they pointed it out.
What did you learn about yourself from doing the show?
Brittani Koine: I didn’t learn so much about myself, but I filled my shoes a little more. I grew into a better person, a more mature person. I learned to be by myself and be OK with that because sometimes you couldn’t talk to the other girls. You would be just sitting there alone. I did apologize to Tyra and everybody after that happened because I didn’t want them to have that image of me. That is not who I am. That is one moment in my entire life. Everybody back home knew that. It took a lot for me to apologize. I am not the kind of person who apologizes when I still … I wouldn’t change what I did. I would change the place I did it. I would wait until I got on the bus, but she wasn’t coming home with us that night anyway. I definitely grew. I know now that I need to bite my tongue sometimes and not be so stubborn and bullheaded. Before coming to Top Model, I was stubborn and bullheaded. You couldn’t tell me anything. Now I am more relaxed.
They did your makeover earlier in the show. So why did they cut your hair again at the end? Are you going to live with it?
Brittani Koine: I believe they cut Molly and my hair at the end — the final panel – to see if we could take a very random, spur-of-the-moment drastic change like that and to see how we handled it and which of us could pull it off. I think that is why they did it. I like my hairstyle now. It is so easy to work with. I am not sure if I will be keeping it long term. I have to discuss that with IMG. We will reassess my hair when I go and meet them in the future.
This coming fall, America’s Next Top Model returns with an all-star show filled with former favorites returning for a second chance.