Interview with “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Elina Ivanova

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Since the debut of America’s Next Top Model

in 2003, women of all sexualities have been included as part of the televised

reality contest. Cycle 1’s Ebony Haith had the pleasure of being the first out

contestant, who dealt with some homophobia from her housemates when she wanted

her girlfriend to visit. She was followed by Cycle 4’s Michelle

Deighton, who came out as a bisexual, open lesbian Kim Stolz

on Cycle 5, and Cycle 7’s Michelle Babin, who struggled with her sexuality while on the show.

By the time 18-year-old Elina Ivanova was cast as a

competitor on the current cycle of Top Model, she had the pleasure of

being known for her modeling ability instead of being known as “the

lesbian.” In fact, it seemed very much a non-issue in the editing of the

cycle, which touched less on Elina’s sexuality than on her crush on her fellow

contestant, Clark.

Perhaps the focus was instead intended to be on the show’s

first transgender contestant, Isis, but Elina’s talent kept her on the show

until just last week, when she was eliminated from the final five.

Born in the Ukraine

and currently living in Seattle,

Elina came across as serious and composed on Top Model, which made her a

threat to the other girls. But in the end, the judges found her to be too

controlled and let her go in Amsterdam.

Elina talked with AfterEllen.com about her thoughts on how she was portrayed on

the show, her relationship with Clark and what

she hopes to do now that her time on Top Model has ended.

AfterEllen.com: I was just reading an interview you had

done recently, and in it you said you keep in touch with Clark.

Is that on a friendly level or more than a friendly level?


Elina Ivanova:
[Laughs.] Well, we are friendly. She’s a

great girl. We’re just friendly right now.

Elina (left) and Clark

AE: You didn’t talk too much about your sexuality on the

show but how do you personally identify?


EI:
I don’t really want to put a label on it. I used to; I

just don’t really know what I like physically. I’m open to anything and I want

to keep it that way. Whatever comes my way.

AE: Clark didn’t seem

too opposed to kissing you on the show. Do you think she’s bisexual?


EI:
I think she might be curious. I don’t know. It was a

really fun night and I tend to bring it out in girls that are curious.

AE: You attract straight girls?

EI:
Yeah [laughs], I do, I get hit on by straight girls. It

was fun, and I thought she was really cute. I wanted to see what I could make

happen.

AE: It seemed like some of the other girls in the house

weren’t used to seeing girls kiss other girls, or used to meeting people like Isis. It was like they could be a little small-minded.

Did you ever feel any homophobia when you were in the house?


EI:
No, I didn’t even think about it that way. It wasn’t my

priority. I just don’t even see that as an issue. It’s like “OK what else

is new?’ I don’t ever really question if someone is OK with it, if I’m living

a certain way. I’m sure there was someone in the house that had a problem, but

it was nothing I was bothered by.

AE: I know Sam was talking about the friendship between

Marjorie and Annaleigh and how she thought that was kind of weird, about them

taking baths and things. Did she ever voice that in the house?


EI:
Sam was very distant from me and I think she’s very— she’s just a girl from L.A.

and I wouldn’t say she’s closed-minded, but I don’t know. I don’t know how many

people she’s been around of different sexualities. I don’t know if she was

uncomfortable, but she never sparked a conversation or asked me about it. And

you know that comment that she made about the lesbian baths, I was like “Get

over it!” [Laughs.]

Samantha (left) with Elina

AE: I never got the sense that Marjorie and Annaleigh

were anything more than friends. Is that true?


EI:
Yeah, they were just really close. And actually I think

they might be living together or might have plans of living together in L.A. I

don’t know, I love Marjorie. Marjorie was a great girl.

AE: I know you can’t talk about the outcome, but in other

interviews you’ve talked about how talented Marjorie is but also that her

nerves get in the way. Do you think that will be hurtful to her for the rest of

the competition?


EI:
Yes, and it’s a shame because I know her— I

really got to know her very well and I see how much potential she has. She’s

brilliant, she’s absolutely amazing and I think that if she really just got

over nerves and whatever’s holding her back — I kind of have that

same problem, too, you know? But I’m definitely rooting for her and hope that

she does well and she does whatever she can do to move forward.

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