Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model (now airing on new network The CW) kicked off Cycle 7 last week with a two-hour season premiere that generated the reality show's highest premiere ratings ever, with just over 5 million total viewers tuning in to meet this season's 13 squealing young model wannabes. Among them was Megan Morris, identified on the show's official website as a 23-year-old bartender from San Francisco. The premiere episode didn't reveal that Morris is a lesbian, but in the second episode, a subtle caption identified the person to whom she was talking on the phone as her girlfriend.
Unfortunately for Morris, the judges dismissed her from the competition after a bland photo shoot featuring her wearing a wig that resembled a crazy poodle crossed with Princess Leah's infamous cinnamon-bun hairdo. I chatted with her the day after her departure from the show, when Morris assured me that she is still with her girlfriend, Courtney, and she can't wait to get back to San Francisco, "because I love it so freaking much."
Oh yeah, and Morris also revealed that she's not the only lesbian on Cycle 7 — can you guess who kept her company on our side of the fence?
AfterEllen.com: Why do you think the judges decided to let you go last night?
Megan Morris: It was the photo. It was a bad photo. I've taken many pictures in my life and that is definitely not one that was satisfying. They had high expectations for me. I knew that after seeing the photo that it was like, ugh, that's it. This is my time to go.
During the shoot, I was taking too much direction from the photographer. And I think that's what it came down to. I wasn't putting myself into the photo, as far as personality and really modeling, as much as I was just listening. And that's where I went wrong. And I knew it. During the shoot I was like, I'm gonna do whatever she says because when you do what they say, they're happy. You know, keep 'em happy, right? But then it ended up working to my disadvantage, and I lost myself in the photo like they said. I really did; it became a photo that wasn't very representational of who I am and how I shoot. So: too much direction, not enough myself, I guess.
AE: Is that what you meant when, at the end of the show, you said that you wished you had shown a little bit more character for the judges?
MM: That [is what I meant], but along with [what happened] in panel. During panel I was a bit more reserved out of respect for the judges, I wanted to take in what they were saying. I held myself back in front of the judges because I wanted to really let them talk … so I kind of wish that I was a little bit more of my bubbly self. And yeah, [at the end] I was like, oh man, this is it? Now I can't? Because I'm off the show? What? [Laughs.]
AE: Who do you think you are when you take photos, then? What kind of personality do you want to project?
MM: I guess … I like stronger photos. And by stronger — I like … interactive shots. It's hard to describe. The type of photography that she [photographer Tracy Bayne] does and she specialized in — it's very soft photography, very subtle and gentle, soft type of photos.
I got excited with the first photo shoot where [Jay Manuel] was like, 'All right, this is like an extreme photo shoot; just go over the top and be who you're not, but don't try so hard." And that for me was more fun because it was more like a challenge, but it kind of wasn't because it was so much fun to do it that way. And I kind of lost of how much fun the photo shoot was in the second photo shoot with the wig, because I was taking so much direction.
AE: Well, that wig was pretty crazy.
MM: Yeah, everybody's wig was crazy, but I guess I wish I had a more wild wig. I thought that would have been fun.
AE: It wasn't until last night's episode that the person you were talking to on the phone was identified as your girlfriend. That was the first time that the show gave any indication that you're not straight.
MM: Right, I was surprised, actually. I was completely open from the beginning, from the tryouts of the show up until the last day, and I was surprised that they took that route as far as editing and whatnot. But yeah, they really slimmed down on the whole lesbian thing I guess.
AE: Do you identify as a lesbian?
MM: Yeah, yeah, I do.
AE: Did you come out to the other girls from the beginning? It was never a secret?
MM: Yeah, it was never a secret at all. I mean, they asked, "Oh, are you [in a relationship]?" "Yeah, I have a girlfriend." We would talk about relationships, things like that, and all the girls were so fascinated, so I felt like that was such a big topic in the house.
They were like, "Lesbian? What? What is this? This lesbianism?" What is this, you know? [Laughs.] It was kind of funny, and Michelle too — I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about stuff like this, I guess I can. When I was talking to the other girls … they were like, "Hmm, you know, I'd probably try it if I wasn’t engaged." It seemed like probably five out of the 13 girls are bi-curious!