Paulina Porizkova, the new judge on America's Next Top Model for Cycle 10, admits she'd rather channel Simon Cowell than Paula Abdul. Ouch. Renowned for appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in both 1984 and 1985, Paulina knows a thing or two about modeling. We had a chance to chat with her about the new season, the importance of personality, and what it really takes to be a "Top" model.
Why did you decide to join ANTM this season?
Well, because I think the show is really fun. I've watched every season. They decided to shoot it in New York. That obviously worked out a lot better for me than when it was in LA.
Do you live in New York?
Yes. And also in part because I want to keep promoting my book ("A Model Summer"). And I needed to get that younger audience who has no idea who I am, nor do they care.
So you have a book coming out?
It came out last year, actually.
Tell me about your book.
It's a novel, and it's about a 15-year-old girl who goes to Paris to model over the summer. It did pretty well, and it's coming out in paperback in April. It was a fortuitous sort of timing.
Mmm hmmm. Haven't you noticed that in the press everybody who's ever done even a picture is a top model automatically? I don't think much is required for a top model these days.
So obviously, in your opinion it's changed over the years.
Yes, back in my day top models were really significant. Now they're just random girls who are described as top models. If they are on the arm of a celebrity than they're always described as top models. They're never just models. Always top models.
It seems if you ask who the supermodels are it's not anybody from today. It's people from a few years ago.
Oh, supermodels are dead. That's over and gone. There are no more supermodels. That's for sure. But we're just talking top models here. Supermodels… that's the dinosaur. They've died out. Top models are flourishing. At least in print.
I'm not sure how many episodes you've done already this season.
How about all of them.
You know reality TV.
Did you have a favorite among the contestants?
Yeah, I kind of feel guilty about it, but I had more than one favorite. I had a couple of favorites.
Are you able to reveal who they are?
No. I can't! I'm so scared to reveal anything. I think I'm going to get my head cut off. But I definitely did have favorites. I have different girls who were favorites for different reasons. There were some whose personality I liked. There were some who I thought were fantastic in pictures. Then there were some who just carried themselves better than others.
The thing about "America's Next Top Model" is that she has to be a little bit of everything. She can't just be a perfect print girl who can't speak. She has to be able to speak. She has to be able to be interviewed. She has to have a personality. And, you know, look decent. That's a lot to ask for.
That's one of the questions I was about to ask you - how important is personality?
Well, because she's on TV, because you don't see her one dimensionally…This is what I keep telling everybody. Look, reality TV is not real, first of all. And "Top Model" is nothing like the real world of modeling. It's far more glamorous and far better and more fun. If you actually watched a real thing about models, you'd die of boredom. It's the same thing day in and day out. It's so unexciting.
I'm sitting there, and I'm seeing the photo shoots they're doing, and I'm jealous. Every judge session I'm thinking, 'I modeled for 20 years, why didn't I get to do that?' These girls have it so good. I think they know it, kind of. What they don't realize is that the show itself may be the highlight of their lives. I would take that and run with it. They'll have a name after this show. But does that mean they're going to become a model? Probably not because first of all there is no room for models on covers, in case nobody's noticed, except for ironing boards.
Normal models, we work to get where those girls start. When you made it big you were on TV and you became a household word. They start as a household word. Then they work their way down.
You can't reveal who your favorites were, but can you reveal if they made it far in the competition?
Some of them made it pretty far. I think if you can judge my personality at all by what I'm saying, you'll know who my favorites are.
I got a screener so I was able to see the first two episodes.
Everybody else has seen it except for me.
I know maybe it's the editing, but they bring you out and you're like, 'You need to work on your skin, and you need to work on this…'
If it was said, I obviously said it. I think they needed a bitch on the show, I guess. I sort of haplessly provided because I'm honest. Of course when I speak to the girls I'm not just going, 'Well you're a hag so forget it. You need to fix this or this.' I go up to the girls, and the part you don't see is I say, 'You have beautiful eyes, you really know how to dress but you don't have good skin.' So I tell her the positive, and then I tell her this is what you need to work on. Sure, they're just going to edit it into bad skin, blah blah, bad hair. That's not really what's going on, but if it makes it entertaining to watch…I prefer to be Simon Cowell to Paula.
(Click play to see Paulina critique one of the models)
Did any of the model wannabes do anything to surprise you this season?
Yeah, there were a few surprises and not all good, unfortunately. The thing that was really surprising to me about being on the show was how involved I got with the girls. The longer they were on the show the more I cared. And if I felt they didn't care about it equally I got very personally offended, which I thought was funny.
You didn't expect that.
No, not at all. It's not my show. What was so wonderful about this job for me is the same thing that kind of sucked - I have no responsibility. It was fantastic to just breeze into work, look good. I would walk out, stop, bop my mouth and go home. At the same time, I'm not used to not being the center of attention. So it's a bit of a humbling experience. I think it's very good for my already slightly fragile ego. Even a little more bringing down to earth.
What kind of advice would you give an aspiring model?
First, I would say, why do you really want to do it? Second, I would say, if you want to model because you think clothes and fashion are the most fabulous things that you've ever imagined in your life than go right ahead, you'll be right at home. If you do it for the other reasons, which is pretty much every model I know, who was always in it for - I wouldn't say wrong - but different reasons. Most of us were in it because we wanted to be loved, we wanted to show our parents we were worth something. The reason I think celebrities are celebrities is they seek attention. The seek love or approval because they didn't get it when they were little. Poor, poor celebrities.
It's important for them not to confuse one for the other because if you go into the business because you want to be loved, and your aunt told you she thought you were really great looking and you should try modeling, that might not be the thing for you. You have to be so fantastic looking to make it as a print model. Unless you've heard it pretty much from everywhere, you should be a model, you should be a model, don't bother. It's a really hard job. Ninety percent of the models just do lame catalogs. And I'm sorry, but that's just the most boring job in the world. What do you call it…assembly line. You put on 30 hideous outfits, one after the other, one after the other, and the typical catalog pose. And that's it. That's your job. Your bread and butter.
We don't get to do this fun stuff, hanging out of windows, on ropes, being superwomen, wrestling snakes in water or whatever. We don't get to do those very often.
That leads into my next question, some of the best and worst things about modeling. You just answered some of the worst, what are some of the best things about being a model?
Well, the best one, hands down, is money. To me there's no other best. Because where else can you go with no education? And all that's required of you is to show up on time with clean hair and make more money than your parents.
I would also have to say, they make you look so gorgeous.
You know what? It's really, really fun to see yourself made up and looking really gorgeous on the picture once, but it gets, boring is not the word…after a while you just look at another picture of yourself and another picture of yourself and you go, this one is not as good as that one, whatever. It's a job. And if you sit, luxuriating in gorgeous pictures of yourself then I feel sorry for you. And you probably should do as many as possible because you're going to need a lot of them when you're growing older.
I think for the fans who watch the show, we see the transformation and think, 'Ooh, I'd love to have that happen to me.' To be transformed, even if it was just for a day, with stylists and photographers who make you look fantastic.
I absolutely agree with that. I love transformations too. Pygmalion is something that I think is something every woman, and probably even guys, are attracted to. That person that's inside that other person that will suddenly bloom. It's the story of almost every model I know. They're rejected, poor little lanky children, and all of a sudden they're swans. It's Dumbo. It's the ugly duckling. So many fairytales are based on that idea.
And I think everybody should be able to do that. Everybody should be able to go and have a transformation and have really ass-kicking pictures taken of themselves so they know what it feels like. And if that doesn't exist, you've just given me an idea to open a company and do just that. I've been doing that for my friends forever. I love to make people up. I stick them in my clothes and I do some really glamorous pictures of them. It's so rewarding to see when they look at themselves and they're like, 'Oh my God, is that me?' Yeah, that's how beautiful you are.
It's my first season, and I'm so scared they're going to shoot me for any transgression whatsoever. I'm not going to give any spoilers. I haven't even told my husband or my children. Nobody knows who the winner is in my house besides me. I'm that scared. They know who the finalists are because they came by the set once, but them being boys they pay no attention.
How old are they?
14 and nine. I kept thinking, maybe they can give the men's perspective, the boy's perspective. Who do you think is hot? And I'd ask them and they'd say, 'You, mommy.' That's why every mother should have a son. Or two.
The next episode of "America's Next Top Model" airs Wed., Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. on The CW.