‘America’s Next Top Model’ champ Nicole Fox talks about proving everybody wrong


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Nicole Fox has gone from the contestant known as “Bloody Eyeball” to her new title: “America’s Next Top Model.” In last night’s finale, The Louisville, Colo., student and artist toppled Laura Kirkpatrick, the bubbly waitress from Stanford, Ken., to become the newest “Top Model.”

“I definitely did not always want to be a model,” says Fox, 18. “I know some girls on the show say, ‘Yeah, I tried out, because everyone always told me I should be a model.’ The same could not be said for me. I was not an attractive girl.”

Well, Nicole has definitely blossomed. This morning, I was able to squeeze myself into her busy interview schedule to discuss how she went from a camera-shy teen to the first ‘official’ petite Top Model. (Cycle 3 winner, Eva Pigford, was actually just shy of 5’7”.)

How cool is it to be America’s Next Top Model?
Oh, it’s sweet to be America’s Next Top Model. I’m totally stoked. It’s even better now that it’s out, because, of course, this all transpired months ago and I had to keep the secret. It was insanely difficult, but I’m stoked!

How long did you have to keep your win secret?
I think filming wrapped up mid-June, so I don’t know. I’ll have to count [laughs]. It’s been a while.

Whenever anybody recognized me as Nicole from “America’s Next Top Model,” the first things out of their mouth would be, “So, did you win?” and I was like, “You can’t ask me that! I can’t say.” It was so difficult, but honestly what helped was just the perverse pleasure I got out of watching people squirm with anticipation, because they had no idea.

You would enjoy that! What’s the best thing about winning “Top Model”?
I think that the coolest thing that’s come out of this experience are all the girls that come up to me. Even today, I was walking on the street and little girls were coming up asking for my autograph and my pictures, which is all well and good. But the best thing is when they tell me they really look up to me and that they’re just like me. The fact that I can inspire young girls, who like me are more introverted and shy, that’s the best thing.

I really appreciated that the finalists this cycle were both really good people. How hard was it to go against Laura in the finale?
It was really difficult. Honestly, she had me intimidated, because I knew that she had such a great personality. She’s the demographic for “America’s Next top Model,” Seventeen magazine, and CoverGirl. As Nigel said, she’s a naturally charming, bubbly girl where as me, not so much – naturally shy, more introverted. She was definitely competition, but when I found out that she was going to be in the final two with me, honestly my first reaction was, “Whew, that’s all right. If Laura beats me, that’s all right.” She’s just so deserving and so genuine and sweet.
After watching the show, are you shocked at what some of the other contestants said about you?

I did find it shocking because, of course, most of that was never said to my face. Most of the girls smiled to my face. I didn’t take it very hard, honestly. A lot of the comments had me laughing out loud. It’s just a high-pressure situation and they pressure you in interviews to talk about other girls. So, I totally understand. When you put 14 girls in a house together, not everybody is going to get along. And it’s not a crime not to like a person.

In the finale, you said that you started the competition with very little self-confidence. At what point did you get over that and say game on?
It started out rough, I have to admit. When I got home from casting week, I just thought, “My God, Nicole, what have you gotten yourself into? You can’t do this! What are you doing on reality television? You’re camera shy! What are you doing to yourself?” And, so there were a lot of tears involved in that, and my parents were scared for me.

Going into that first photo shoot, I was just angry. I was angry at all the girls who judged me and were judgmental right off the bat and said, “You’re this way, you’re that way, Nicole, you can’t talk, you’re weird, there’s something wrong with you.” And so I just wanted to prove them wrong. I think the tables turned with that very first photo shoot. I think I proved everybody wrong.

I admired your ability to push whatever was going on personally and any fears you were having, like in the underwater shoot, and focus on the challenge. Have you always been mentally tough?
My parents have always taught me to be very focused. My dad was in the Marine Corps, so growing up he was tough on me, in a good way.

I recall as a 5-year-old, we would be on a hike and I’d fall on a cactus or something and be all bleeding and I’d be crying. He would look at me and say, “So, what do you want me to do about it? Sitting here crying is not going to do anything. You should start walking home, so we can get there faster.” So growing up, I think I developed an ability to persevere and really stay focused on the task at hand.

So, are you going to be leaving Louisville soon to start your “Top Model” life?
Actually, this afternoon I’m meeting with Wilhelmina and they’re going to tell me which market I have most potential in. It’s likely that I’ll end up moving. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but it’s probably not Louisville. I feel that I’m ready for it.

Where would you like to move?
I would love to go overseas. That would be incredible for me. I’ve actually never been out of the country before, but I’d definitely be satisfied with either L.A. or New York. I have family in California and I’m in New York right now and it’s gorgeous. I’m enjoying the city so much.

After the finale, we saw in “America’s Next Top Model: Revealed” that you spent a lot of time painting. How has this whole experience affected your art?
I love that question! My art has flourished. I painted a lot when I was on the show. It was such an emotional experience for me that it translated a lot into my art. I’ve just been changing more than ever and I’m putting up a website for my art when I get back to Colorado for people who are interested in it.

It was so important for me. We would come home and there would be the cameras and I’d feel the pressure after an exhausting day of filming and the first thing I’d want to do is I painted for so many hours. They probably have hours and hours of me sitting there hunched over a canvas with my paint spread out on the floor, but it was really important for me and helped me keep grounded and clear my head.

– Jethro Nededog (Follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)

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Photos, from top: Nicole Fox is “America’s Next Top Model.”; Tyra banks with Nicole Fox, her new “Top Model.” Credit: Ryan Goble / The CW