Meet Laura LaFrate from “America’s Next Top Model”


AE: You mentioned hanging out with the Brit girls. Was there really a division between the two teams, or was that something that got played up for the cameras?
LL: It was definitely played up for the cameras. The British girls and I got along so well. I eventually even moved into their room to spend time with them because I just couldn’t take being around the Americans anymore. They were great. They were fun, they liked to live life, and since they’d already done the show before, they understood the stress of it. When the American girls were just sitting there getting overwhelmed with everything, [the British girls] were just having fun and being crazy. So I decided to join in. I was like “Ah, the American girls are boring. I’m gonna go stay with the Brits.”

AE: Did you have a best friend on the show?
LL: I had two best friends. One was Jasmia – she was the first one that got eliminated. It was really hard. I was really upset about that. And then my other best friend was Sophie. She is awesome. She’s fun, she’s crazy, she is absolutely schizophrenic. It’s hilarious. She cannot take waiting, and she needs to know what’s going on at all times. So we’d be going to a competition or a photo shoot, and she’d ask everything about it, until we’d say “Sophie, shut up! We can’t take any more!” She’d be like, “I need to know what’s going on!” and I’d say, “No, you don’t! Shut up!” We’re such good friends. We talk all the time, we Skype. I’m eventually going to go back to London and spend some time with her this summer.

AE: The last couple of weeks on the show you’ve had really good photos and done well in the judging. Did that change the atmosphere in the house for you?

LL: I think it was more — I don’t think it was that they saw me as more of a threat. I think it was more that they kept trying to say that the show was not giving them their best pictures because they knew they had better ones. Really, it was just breaking down their own confidence. I just decided I was going to take it as new day every day – I’ve got to go back down to the bottom every day and just keep trying my hardest. And a lot of girls didn’t see it that way, and it kind of brought a lot of them down in the end.

AE: So, you mentioned that you feel like you’ve been getting a crazier edit than you deserve.
LL: [Laughs] I definitely think I’m crazy – don’t get me wrong. I admit to my craziness. But, I mean, to be crazy like that 100% of the time, I think that’s a little draining. I can’t do that all the time. It was just tidbits. Even my best friend was watching the show with me, and he just looked at me and went, “Oh, Laura. You haven’t changed.”

Things come to my mind, and I just say them. I have no filter. It’s very bad. I get yelled at for it all the time.

My mother texted me during the show — I hope you know this — she texted me during the show and yelled at me: “Why did you say that?” It’s so bad.

AE: It’s got to be weird having your mom watch the show.
LL: Oh, God. My mom’s like, “I have to go to work tomorrow! I’ll see you later.” You can definitely tell she’s embarrassed sometimes. She still loves me. That’s all that matters.

AE: Do you think any of the other models have been getting a bad rap in terms of their edits?
LL: I don’t think anyone got a bad rap. I think they cut out so much of the Americans and their breakdowns. I mean, they missed a lot of stuff, like Seymone had a breakdown the first day. A lot of the American girls just crumbled. There was a lot of inner turmoil within the American group that was not shown on TV.

AE: That’s surprising.
LL: Yeah, it’s very strange. They definitely select what they think is going to be best because they want to keep that rivalry going on. The first few weeks, the Americans were at each other’s throats. They really were.

AE: Speaking of turmoil, can we talk about Louise’s departure?
LL: Oh, yeah, Louise. I love Louise. I think she’s hilarious. She’s strong. She’s crazy. She’ll kick your ass and not say sorry after. She’s nuts. But I love her. I absolutely love her. Luckily, I could see in the show where they edited out a lot of the stuff that Kelly [Cutrone] did say to her. There were some pretty nasty things said in between both of them. I think they were both at fault.

But at the same time, Kelly has built such a tremendous reputation, and Louise really did need to step back and listen to what she had to say. But Louise just broke. She hadn’t talked to her then-fiancé for almost ten days. She was feeling pretty alienated. And then to have all this stress from Kelly come, she just snapped. She was like, “I have never taken this.” I think it’s also because in the British girls’ cycles, they were encouraged to fight. They were encouraged to get as argumentative and as close to physical as possible. So it was definitely a different experience for her being on the American one.

AE: Watching that had to be stressful on the rest of you models.
LL: Oh, my God. All of us ended up bursting into tears afterward. She was such a tremendous presence in the house. When she left, it was scary. We knew she was a very tough contender. She’s a very strong person. And to see her break down was, like, wow: Someone so strong and someone so motivated can be broken down like that. It was a wake-up call.

AE: What do you see of the judges that we don’t?
LL: You definitely miss their human side. On the show, they seem so serious and so stern every day, but, no, they make mistakes. They laugh. They make perverted comments – they’re just like anybody else. They encourage us to get crazy. They encourage us to be a little bit wild, because you’ve got to do stuff to keep your sanity being on a show where you’re not allowed to have cell phones, or watch TV, or be in contact at all times. So they really do encourage us to be a little bit naughty and crazy.

And just to see them make mistakes and be human is a really nice thing.

AE: Did you have favorite judge?
LL: Kelly Cutrone. I love her. I love her so much.

AE: Really? She got a monster edit last week.
LL: [Laughs] She did, but what you don’t see is that she and I would crack perverted jokes all the time. We would talk about sex. We would talk about guys, we would talk about girls, I mean everything. She’s hilarious. She was awesome. But she’s got to be stern on TV just to show that you’ve got to deal with personalities like that all the time, and you’ve just got to know how to take it and swallow your pride.

Kelly’s awesome. She blew me away. She’s so cool.

AE: What would viewers be surprised to know about Tyra?
LL: That she can trip in heels. That’s hilarious. I always thought that she just walked on water in these 10-inch heels, but she did trip a few times. And then she’d make jokes about it, which was the best part. She’d say, “Hey, we all fall! We all fall! It happens!” It was great.

She’s fun. We even got her to do some rapping, and that was cool too. We definitely got a different side of her. And she told some interesting stories, too, from when she was on the road, and she could get a little wild and crazy with her fellow Modelteers.

AE: I know you can’t really give any spoilers, but is there anything we should be watching for? Can you give us a teaser?
LL: I will just say that, yeah, I can be free-spirited and fun, and I know how to have a really good time, but if I’m pushed, I can snap. And I can snap in a pretty harsh way. So that’s something to be watching out for. I am not to be messed with. I can be fun and easygoing, but if you push me bad, I will push back twice as hard.

And yeah, 14 girls and only one lesbian. That was really unfair. I just want to say that. [Laughs] They knew. They knew what they were bringing on the show.

AE: So on that point, you and a lot of the other models had been out on your own for a while. How did you deal with essentially being back in a very tiny dorm with less privacy?
Actually, when I lived in South Africa, I had to live in a very small room with a bunch of models, so I was already used to it. And I know what goes on, especially in a real-world model house. It’s definitely not as much fun. Girls are scary. They’ll take your stuff. They’ll take your money. They’ll steal your alarm clock. They’ll take your hair products and makeup. In the real world of modeling, you’ve got to watch your back. So I was used to it.

But I also knew that this was really a much more safe, secure place. And TV does not show that it is not glamorous when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. I mean, I got into a fight once with this chick that I was living with: She had left her weave – I mean real hair – in the bathtub, and I flipped out at her. And she told me not to leave cups on the counter. So I took the cup and I threw it at her head, and I was like, “There! There’s the cup! Clean it up yourself! Don’t you dare leave your hair around anymore! I will burn it! That’s disgusting!”

Girls will go nuts on each other in these houses. And that’s why I eventually moved out of the model house and got my own apartment, because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

AE: Where do you see yourself going next?
LL: I’m starting my own T-shirt line that’s going to be coming out soon. And then I’m also going to continue my veterinarian studies for big cats.

AE: Wait. For big cats?
LL: Yes, lions and tigers. I love big animals. I’ve loved cheetahs and tigers since I was little. I want to do rehabilitation and release and eventually live in South Africa. So that’s my goal.

AE: Anything you want readers to know?
LL: It’s crazy – I’ve got a new following now. It’s going to be interesting what I’m going to do with all these women now. Being good sucks. It sucks so much. [Laughs] You’re definitely going to hear more from me and my crazy antics.

[For younger AE readers], my biggest advice is that if you need support, if you need help, there are tons of hotlines and websites that you can go to and talk about it. You are not in any way different than the next person walking down the street, because they definitely have their own desires, their own quirks that make them different.

Being a lesbian or bisexual or gay, it’s not something that makes you different from anybody else. It just means that you have your own identity, and no one can take that away from you. And you should not feel bad for it, either. I went through a long time hating myself for it, but once you learn to accept it and embrace it, you can’t believe what life will bring to you.

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