'America's Next Top Model' winner Krista White:
'I worked that Grace Jones'
Krista sees her win as an important step in a culture with very few representations of beautiful dark-skinned women like one of the icons she chose to emulate in the competition, Grace Jones.
“I just hate that there’s nobody now,” Krista tells us. “I have to look so far back to find somebody I can use as an inspiration, who looks like me and I can channel.”
We talked to Krista about the show’s challenges, the talk of favoritism on the judging panel and how she hopes her win could change popular beauty standards.
Going into the Cover Girl shoots, Raina was pretty confident. Did you think she had the upper hand on you there?
Yes. She has more of a friendly appearance. You know, that Cover Girl look. So I was a little worried going into that part, but I knew that I would probably excel in maybe the runway. I knew there was a strong point for each of us. I was better at runway. She was better at the commercial stuff.
You had a fear of having to use the cue cards during the commercial and that fear was realized. How did you feel about that?
I think that I totally psyched myself out. I was like, I don’t want the cue cards! I don’t want the cue cards! I was saying the words all day and I knew the script and I was walking around with it because I didn’t want to miss any words. I got up there and my mind just went blank, like the light cut off. I just had to forget about it and say, give me the cue cards. I just kind of laughed through it. I’m human and that’s what we do. We forget sometimes [laughs]. It’s life!
During the competition, did you think you’d be sharing the top two with Raina?
Oh, yeah. Secretly, Raina was one of my top people. Her face is undeniable. It photographs amazingly. So she was one of my front-runners. When we got to the top two, I thought maybe it might be Alex. She was doing really well. Or Angelea, because she did well in the beginning. She kind of slowed down toward the end, but there’s a good chance she can still pull it off, so when they said Raina, I thought, oh, this is going to be difficult. I did well with photos and she was doing consistently great. I just grew in the competition and she was just great all across the board. It just depended on who the judges wanted and who they saw more in. And that was who was going to get the prize.
You didn't start out commanding much attention. At what point did you feel you turned the corner?
For me, I think it was the hair shoot. I was like I found my thing. I know what it is. I know what works and I’m going to use it. But, beside that, I kind of think I was a good competitor, because as far as me and Raina, I was called above her every time except three. And I didn’t realize that until I was watching the episodes and stuff like that. I always thought she was ahead of me. Other than that, I was called in the top five the whole time. The hair shoot is when it really turned for me and I kind of took it to the next level. And I had to maintain it, which is very hard when you get a best picture. It’s hard to stay up there once you get it.
We thought the moment you turned was then, too, when you channeled Grace Jones. Is she someone you look up to?Yes. She’s a model, but she has done a lot of things. She went into singing. She had a CD out and people probably don’t know that about her. And she did acting. So she was very, very successful. She is somebody I looked up to, especially for being a dark-chocolate model. She looked something like me. It was great. I thought I worked that Grace Jones.
Many of our readers say that the judging panel, especially Andre Leon Talley, had a preference for African American models. How do you respond to that criticism?
I’ve thought about that and I followed a lot of the blogs and the things that people were saying. It’s really hard for me, because I think that kind of got out of hand and it was mostly people who wanted Raina to win. I was a Raina fan. I knew she was going to be in the top. I even still down to the moment that they said my name, I was like Raina won this. Andre said great things about her from the beginning. He never once said something to demean her or to show, oh no, I don’t like her. He said good things about me. He said bad things about me. He has also said good things about her and bad things about her. I don’t think it was any kind of favoritism or anything like that. She ran a good race and so did I. I think it came down to the entire body of work. Andre gave both of us his information and people don’t know that. He said, ‘Call me. I’m going to walk you guys through this and I’ll help you with any questions you need. And you know, I’m here.’ He gave it to both of us, so if there was any kind of issue with Andre favoring me, there was none.
-- Jethro Nededogtwitter.com/TheRealJethro
Middle photo: Krista in her finale runway challenge. Credit: Martina Monica Tolot / The CWBottom photo: Krista and J. Alexander at the drag runway challenge. Credit: Barbara Nitke / The CW