‘America’s Next Top Model’: Chatting with McKey Sullivan


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After becoming ‘America’s Next Top Model’s’ 11th winner, Brittany ‘McKey’ Sullivan chatted with journalists on a conference call about the competition and life after it. Here were a few highlights from the discussion:

On what it was like transitioning from an athletic tomboy to a model:

I still sometimes have this habit of putting my butt on the edge of the chair and sitting with my legs wide open. That’s not very attractive! I also used to try to spit like the guys too, but that didn’t really work out — I didn’t have the same skills. I had a wonderful advisor at Elite Chicago who taught me everything there is about presenting yourself and finding your own style and doing your makeup and how to shake people’s hands. That was priceless to me. I learned that you don’t have to dress like a guy to be yourself — you can find a style within the fashion industry that looks like you and feels like you.

What was going through her mind during the final judging:

This is embarrassing, but I always have to pee when I’m nervous, so I’m just sitting there with my designer gown with my legs crossed thinking, ‘Please don’t pee in this designer gown!’ As judging went on I got more and more comfortable and stopped shaking so much.

On being a math nerd:
I’m kind of neurotic of multiples and derivatives of the number six, so I figured that if I could make it to the top three, then I’d be fine because one, two and three are derivatives of the number six.


Her friends (and competition) in the house:
It started out that the closest person to me was Isis [King], but she wasn’t around for long and I lost my roommate and best buddy in the house. I was pretty close with Joslyn [Pennywell], Sheena [Satana] and Sam [Potter]. I’m still closest to Sheena. As soon as casting week started I saw her and thought there was no way I could compete with her. She has this spark. As the competition went on at one point I thought Lauren Brie [Harding] was my biggest competition, and I thought toward the end that Marjorie [Conrad] was my competition because she’s magic in front of the camera.

On Tyra Banks paying for Isis’ gender reassignment surgery:
I was so happy, words cannot express it. Isis has had a really hard life, and to think that we’re the same age is just unbelievable because she seems wise beyond her years. Something so great is going to happen to her, and she gets to be really what she wants to be. Nobody deserves it more than her.

Advice from Cycle 10 winner Whitney Thompson at the first Cover Girl shoot:
We were talking about Dominique [Reighard of Cycle 10] and Whitney was telling us how she wouldn’t have made it as far if she didn’t hold herself the way she did in panel. Every time the judges said something bad about her, Dominique just brushed it off — I think that helped me a lot because it kept me from doing anything really bad at panel. ‘Hey I did bad, can’t do anything about it now.’

On being the third Top Model from Illinois:
If you’ve ever driven in Chicago, you know that we’re very aggressive people! We go out and get whatever we want.

What’s next?

I still want to complete my majors (politics and government, and chemistry and biology) and then go on to med school. I have wonderful teachers and advisors at Ripon College to help me along every step of the way. If I want to take time off, if I planned on it, my advisor said he’ll be there for me. It’s a wonderful school and wonderful people, and it’s been very positive.

— Claire Zulkey