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'America's Next Top Model' Q&A: Onward and upward for Dominique

May 8, 2008 | 12:26 pm

An interview with the now-departed Dominique:

Are you back in Ohio?
I'm in sunny California right now. My 2-year-old and I will be moving to L.A. soon. I can't deal with the snow in Ohio. This whole winter has just been bad. Me and the cold weather and 2 feet of snow? It's not working.

Are you pursuing modeling?
Yeah, I'm pursuing, modeling, acting, thinking about starting a clothing line and a bit of correspondence work. I just want to keep myself in the loop. I love doing all of this and just want to stay in it. As long as you keep pushing, something will pull through. 

Were people surprised by how upbeat you seemed after your elimination?
No. Everybody knows me as being really positive. That's what kept me in the competition for as long as I was. Every photo shoot, I went in and was, like, "I’m going to rock this." If you keep telling yourself that, you're going to believe it. 

Is there a fine line between being confident like that and also saying "I have something to learn"?
I learned so much. What I appreciate the most out of this whole competition is that I learned what was working for me and what was not. I took all the criticism and feedback, and I made it work for me instead of against me. A lot of the other girls may have had a problem with that because that's a difficult thing to do, but I wanted to grow, and regardless of anything, I grew so much, throughout the entire competition, and I took myself to the next level and embraced everything.

Do you feel like we saw the real you?
You know what? Yeah. That was the real me. It was funny at times, sometimes it was entertaining, sometimes you thought, "Oh, my God, I can't believe she said that," but it was me. It is TV. I wish they could have shown everything, but there's not enough time. There were some things that were left out, and if they were put in, you would have had a better understanding of how things were.

Some of the girls I've spoken with said the same thing. What would you have liked to be kept in?
I don't want to change it. I’m happy with everything being the way it is.

Is there anything you could take back that you said or did on the show?
No. It happened and it’s over with. If I said something that wasn't right, I always went back to whoever I had a problem with and I apologized, which wasn't shown, of course. I have no hard feelings with the girls at the end of the day. I love everybody, and you just have to get over that stuff. In the big scope of things, all the little arguments and the debates mean nothing. 

Was it hard having to travel and live with Whitney for so long after your fights?
It wasn’t like I never wanted to get along with Whitney. In the very beginning, Whitney and I were cool, and then it went downhill. I think I always came around -- it took her some time to do that, though. She’s a lot younger than me, and I think age has a lot to do with it, but we worked everything out.  Yeah, there were disagreements, and they were magnified because they were on TV, but it's not magnified to me.

The other girls were making fun of how you ate on last night’s episode — maybe Whitney was just jealous of your metabolism.
I always kept candy on hand, and it's really funny that they said that because they'd all come to me and eat my candy. Hey, when you're on set all day, when you're on photo shoots for hours, you need some sugar!

You mentioned that you seemed to believe in yourself more than the other girls did. What did you perceive about them that made you say that? 
I think in the beginning that was the case. I feel like what I've learned throughout this experience is how people perceive me. Yes, I'm confident, I have a lot of personality, I could talk for days. But I’ve learned to be a chameleon and put myself in other people's shoes and see how they perceive me. I've learned to tone some things down and deal with everybody differently. Not everybody likes me and is ready to deal with all this.

You haven't even referred to yourself in the third person at all during this conversation. 
Oh, we're getting there, OK?

How did it feel to be told by Paulina that you look like a beautiful tranny?

Wow, that was beautiful. I took that as a compliment, though. Transvestites are some of the most beautiful women in the world. They have so much grace, so much poise. So did I take it as an insult?  I'm fierce!

Have you developed a drag following?
Yeah. It's so funny. I appreciate that more than anything. When people that come up to me and say, “Oh, Dominique, we love you so much," I'm like “Aaaw. Oh, my gosh, I'm gonna cry!”

You said in last night’s episode that you were the Saleisha of the competition. Would you compare yourself to any other previous contestants?
Tyra compared me earlier to Toccara, but I'm in my own boat. I'm different. Some people compared me to Jade or Corrine, but I have my own personality. I didn’t try to be like anybody else, and I don't compare myself to anybody else. Something new for "Top Model." 

Would you encourage your daughter to go into modeling? And, if so, what advice would you give her?
The advice I would give my daughter or anyone interested in modeling is to be grounded. Always keep integrity. If you have that, you can deal with this industry, piece of cake. 

Do you keep in touch with any of the girls from the show?
I love all the girls. I think they're all really sweet.

--Claire Zulkey