If you were following our blog these past few months, you know that The Amazing Race isn’t the only reality series with a Princeton connection this fall. This season (or, as the show’s creator/judge/host/resident eccentric Tyra Banks insists on calling it, “cycle”) of America’s Next Top Model features junior Jane Randall among its bevy of smizing beauties.
Randall, a former member of the lacrosse team who hails from Baltimore, MD, is back at Princeton while the show airs (Wednesday nights at 8 pm on The CW). So far we’ve only seen Jane in the show’s casting episode, in which she had a scant few minutes of direct screentime. Still, that was enough time for Jane to: 1) receive the first profanity-bleeping of the cycle (for her reaction to the show’s new grand prize, a cover and two spreads in Vogue Italia); and 2) be labeled “privileged” by one of the show’s judges for attending Princeton and owning horses.
How the 5’9″ History major did going forward in the competition is everyone-but-Jane’s guess. But while Jane can’t reveal her ultimate fate on the show, she did call us last week to talk about her Top Model experience.
The Ink: What made you want to apply for the show?
Jane: In October in I was in New York with my mom, and a photographer approached me in Starbucks and asked if I was a model, and I said no. But it was always something I kind of wanted to do. So I went back to my dorm and actually took a couple pictures in my dorm room with my roommates. I sent it in to some agencies and got some calls back. And then I sent them in to Top Model — I was watching Gossip Girl on the CW website, and there was actually a link to apply for the next Cycle…
Why was modeling something you always wanted to try?
It’s always been something I’ve thought about doing, I guess ever since my growth spurt. People have always said, “Oh, you’re tall and lanky, you should be a model.” But I never had any idea about how to go about doing it. And then I kind of took it as a sign when the photographer approached me. I figured, why not send in some pictures and find out if I could actually do it?
Before the show, who or what did you think of when you heard the word “model”?
Mainly editorials in magazines. I wasn’t very familiar with runway [modeling], I’ve never really watched fashion shows. I guess an image in a magazine was what I thought of when I heard the word.
And now? Do you think of yourself? Do you consider yourself a model?
That’s a good question. Before the show, I definitely did not — it’s something I [just] wanted to do. But through the course of the show, you’ll see I’m trying to figure out if I can.
Did the prizes this season make the competition more cutthroat?
I think anyone in the competition wants to win regardless, but I think the emphasis on high fashion and the prizes really made people realize… I mean, a cover of Italian Vogue will make your career. Not that a cover of Seventeen [the previous prize] wouldn’t, but [with Vogue] you’re definitely not just appealing to the masses. You’re appealing to the people in fashion.
Going into the competition, what were you most nervous about?
Maybe the fact that I had never modeled before. When I went to the audition in New York, I saw girls from major agencies, with full portfolios. And I had a couple of pictures I took in my dorm. So I was definitely intimidated by that.
Did being a Princeton student help you at all during the competition?
I definitely think that by going to Princeton I’ve learned [the importance of] putting in time and effort and practicing a skill – whether it’s lacrosse or modeling, you have to put the time in to develop.
So modeling is a skill? A lot of people think that models just have to stand in front of a camera and look pretty.
I mean, that’s what I thought! Past tense. It was definitely a lot harder than I anticipated.
What’s so hard about it?
You have to know all your different angles, how they work with the lighting, all these different things that I never thought about. You know, I thought modeling was, a photographer tells you, “Put your hand on your hip, turn this way, and smile.” But it’s really you in front of the camera, moving. I think that distinguishes a top model from run-on-the-mill – the ability to sell the garment in the best possible way.
Well — to get precept-y for a second — is that what modeling is, selling garments? Or is it helping to make the designer or photographer’s artistic vision come to life?
Well, there’s obviously a difference between commercial modeling – an ad for Gap or something – and an editorial you see in Vogue. There’s certainly a more artistic component to high fashion. It’s not your typical pretty – there’s ugly pretty. But Cover Girl is more commercial. I guess commercial modeling was more what I thought about before, but through the competition I learned a lot about high fashion.
Were the models you lived with on the show different than the people you know at Princeton?
I definitely met a lot of girls I never would have had the opportunity to otherwise [meet]. Because a lot of my friends in high school were very similar to me – they played lacrosse, and I’ve known most of them since first grade. Coming to Princeton, I had close group of friends that came from similar backgrounds. This experience definitely broadened my horizons. I spent a lot of time listening and learning.
Where did you tell your school friends you were going to be this summer?
I told my friends I was studying abroad in Australia.
What are your horses named?
My horse’s name is ‘Shazam’, and the pony is ‘Merrylegs’ – that’s the name of the pony in Black Beauty. I didn’t name them, but I kind of like ‘Shazam.’
Shazam — that doesn’t sound like a very ‘privileged’ name for a horse. [Author's note: this was a very awkward segue.] What was your reaction when the judges gave you that label?
It was frustrating, because I’m definitely very proud of the fact that I go to Princeton and that my parents have been able to provide for me. But I kind of feel that it comes across that it’s working against you a little bit. I feel like Ms. Jay, when said the word “privileged” during the audition, it almost came out of his mouth before I even finished talking about my horses. But I’m definitely proud of my parents for everything they’ve provided me with, so I’m going to be honest about it. [Author's note: the idea that being associated with wealth would hurt a contestant on a show dedicated to finding someone to sell signifiers of wealth might seem strange, but Ivy League contestants on the show often get edited to be "stuck-up" and exit early.]
If you receive good feedback from the show, would you consider taking time off from school to pursue modeling full-time?
Modeling obviously has an expiration date to it. I just turned 20 – this is certainly the time. For someone interested in modeling, it needs to be now. Also, last semester in the spring when I was going to New York, talking to some agencies, I had to miss some classes… maybe half a dozen times, and I felt like it did affect my schoolwork to some degree. So I would consider taking some time off. But graduating from Princeton – that’s not up for debate. But a year? I guess there’s a little flexibility there.