Girl on Top
From small-town girl to America’s Next Top Model Jourdan Miller is living the dream. By Eliza Thomas
Using all the tips, tricks and lessons taught to her by Tyra Banks, Jourdan Miller posed and catwalked her way to winning Cycle 20 of one of the world’s biggest reality TV competitions, America’s Next Top Model
(ANTM). Anyone who’s watched any season of the show can tell that 16 beautiful beings going head to head for the coveted Top Model title is no easy feat. Cycle 20 took an unforeseen turn when, for the first time in the series’ history, the female models were pitted against equally-as-gorgeous male models. Although only 20 years old, Miller has had extreme ups and downs but seems to have blossomed despite the false starts. She credits her success to the love and encouragement of her loved ones. “I wasn’t even looking to try out but they kept telling me that I had to at least try.” After a failed modelling stint in New York at 17, she said, “I didn’t think I had the time to do this because I needed to work to take care of my bills and what not.” Not sure about what changed her mind at the last minute, Jourdan rushed to the audition, even meeting with a minor accident on the way there. Fast-forward several months, Miller is in Malaysia along with top four contestants Renee Bhagwandeen, Cory Hindor , Chris Hernandez, and Marvin Cortes as part of a fan meet-and-greet session organised by Guess. At her first ever cover shoot, she sat down with CLEO for what turned out to be the most insightful episode of behind-the-scenes at ANTM and her plans after the hit TV series.
Congratulations! Did you expect to win?
Thank you! I honestly didn’t expect it. I thought that since they were bringing guys into the competition for the first time that they’d totally choose a guy to win. When I won, I was thinking, “Wait, you’re really going to choose me? I’m America’s Next Top Model?” It was such a honour, and so shocking and overwhelming. It felt amazing hearing Tyra (Banks) call out my name. I’ll never forget that moment.
I’m sure you’ve wanted to model as a kid, right?
I’ve wanted to model my entire life. I found out when I was 11 that I had the right type of body frame to be a model. When I hit 15, that’s when I really started getting into it – going on test shoots and learning how to pose and all that. At 16, I moved to New York, stayed in a model’s apartment for a little bit and got some modelling experience under my belt. And then my agency closed down and unfortunately did not pay me for any of the jobs I had done for them.
Before the show, I did not like confrontation; I did not like ghting with people.
Wow, that is terrible!
Yes, I’ve never received a pay cheque for modelling. Every job I have done, I’ve never been paid for. I get paid now, thanks to the show (Laughs).
How did you get by then without a pay cheque?
They deducted money for rent, food and utilities. I had this one job that paid well, that even after all the deductions, I’d end up with a good chunk of change to take home but I never saw that either. When it was supposed to come to me, that’s when they closed their doors. They sent me a phone number and said if you need payroll, you can call this number but it wasn’t even a working number.
That must have been demoralising …
I kind of lost my drive. So I went back to college. I couldn’t a ord more than one term so I left and became a telemarketer. It was then that I heard about the auditions for ANTM. I happened to get o work early on the day of the audition and had half an hour to get to the venue.
That’s when the accident happened? Tell us about it.
It was snowing and the roads were slippery. I hit a tree. I thought to turn around and go back but something just pushed me forward so I backed up my car and went on to the audition to thankfully make it in time. I got a call back two weeks later, telling me I made the cast.
If you didn’t make the cut to the top 16, what would you have done?
I would have gone back home and picked up where I left o because I wouldn’t have had the money or the resources to get me to where I need to be. I’m actually going to be moving to Los Angeles soon, which is nice. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to work, shoot and do my job.
You’ve never been in the bottom two during panel judging. Were there times that you felt you could have been?
Definitely! The scariest week for me was the Style Fashion Week when I didn’t book any of the runway shows. That was heartbreaking and I thought that I’d end up in the bottom two but I knew it wasn’t enough to send me home because of all the best photos I was getting.