It has come to this. Thirteen weeks of walking, posing, laughing, fighting, and more laughing has come to an end. It’s hard to look at the apartment the same way without the 13 other models in the house. Say what you want about anyone of them but they sure made the experience a lot of fun. Mountaha went home last night and I can’t help but feel as though she was robbed of an experience. Is Branden the more deserving of the two? That will be up for debate but definitely when you look at the competition I have to say I would have given the edge to Mountaha.
For our final photo shoot we were given the challenge of taking a great Polaroid shot by famed photographer Timothy Greensfield-Sanders. We were to pose for three images — a head shot, a full body, and a group shot. Working with Timothy was by far one of the coolest interactions that I had throughout this competition. He knows how to get what he wants out of his models and I really enjoyed working with him. After taking the head shot and waiting for it to develop, seeing the image just revealed to me how much I look like both of my parents. To me I took the entire experience more as a graduation or culmination of some sort and did not consider it to be a competitive challenge. To me, whoever was going to win the contract had already done so in the thirteen weeks that we had been here.
After the great day that was our final photo shoot we were sent off to a cover try with Cosmo magazine. This was incredible seeing that Cosmo’s circulation reaches more readers than most fashion and entertainment magazines in the world. Again we were placed in front of the lens of another famed fashion photographer. This time it was Marc Baptiste. I loved it. He is such an animated character which is great energy to thrive off of during a shoot.
Our final runway has come and though I am excited to finally hear the verdict I must admit it was extremely bittersweet for me. I had a blast throughout this entire experience. I met 15 incredible individuals and now it was about to be over. I basically did my usual walk on the runway and left it at that. Now was not the time to play with my walk. If the judges liked it then they did and if the judges hated it then oh well. At this point in the game it didn’t matter anymore. Of the 13 weeks we were in this competition I tied with Jonathan for the most weekly wins of three. I was in the top three 11 of 13 weeks and I was hailed as the king of the catwalk. I would say that was a victory in itself.
As we neared closer to the decision and each judge stated what they had to say and each mentor threw in their two cents, it was still unclear who was going to get the win. Was it going to be Jonathan the epitome of the male model, right height, right measurements or was it going to be Branden who certainly had youth on his side or was it going to be me “Mister Consistent.” Well apparently in a competition that seemed to be a two man race from the start between Jonathan and me, it is possible for a dark horse to snatch it at the end. Branden was the model that the judges felt they could make into a supermodel. I will be honest — I was confused by the decision. I was the only model to hear every critique firsthand, since I stood on stage for every panel except the second week, so from hearing what the judges said in the past it was hard to accept that they all of a sudden believed that Branden did the best in the entire competition.
However, as much as I question the decision I understand it. I had competed well in this competition and achieved a lot more during my time on the show and that sends a stronger message in my opinion to the industry. So as much as I want to be a sore loser I cannot help but say that I am proud of Branden and I really do wish him all the success in the world. I hope that with the doors that are going to be opened up to him that he also opens up his eyes and his mind even further and know that I will be there for him. To Jonathan, I know that only great things are on the horizon. I really am not afraid for him. He’s my boy and was my best friend throughout this entire experience and he will continue to be so after it. Finally, for me I would do this again in a heartbeat. I had the most amazing experience of my life competing against these 15 remarkable models and have learned a lesson from every one of them and as I said before, I am so grateful to have been given this gift. I refuse to say the cliché line that “This is not the last you will see of me” so I will say this: I see big things for myself in the future and I am confident in my ability to go after and achieve them.