Seeing my “last” episode of America’s Next Top Model was definitely intense. I relived a lot of things; both good moments and some not-so-fun moments in that one episode alone. Hell! I even had to pick my entire jaw and both my cheekbones off the floor a few times while watching some of my “TV friends” comment on certain things about me.
Facing the elimination
I definitely had to step away from everything, gather my thoughts and then continue. The first thing I did was shut off both my phones and get a nice cold glass of Moscato. All my fans were blowing up my notifications through social media; they were heartbroken, sad. I wasn’t sad that I was eliminated, no way! This is only my beginning, a celebration. But I was sad that they were sad, and I needed to turn everything off and feel for myself, and not their pain. At the very least for a few minutes. And, in fact, what I did was pick up the phone and check in on Courtney. This wasn’t just my elimination episode; this was my baby sister’s elimination too.
When Tyra called the last three to step forward, I had knots in my stomach. Here stands Tyra Banks, a woman who’s been my idol since I was a child, and I felt I was disappointing her. Then when I looked over at the screen and saw that literally half a point is what determined who stayed and who left between Devin and me, I was upset, naturally.
Friends and enemies
When I hugged Tyra Banks and walked off the platform, I saw the rest of my castmates run toward me to hug me. “B**** where?” and “Bye Felicia” — these were the comments that ran through my head. When you hug someone, you’re passing energy. Therefore, in order to hug me, you have to be sincere. Before watching this last episode, I couldn’t say that I owed anyone on that panel a hug, besides Hadassah.
Then I watched her commentary, and, well, I’m glad I didn’t. Not because I suddenly dislike her, but again, circling back to what I said about being genuine, that hug wouldn’t have been genuine. She said herself that she wasn’t going to console me because she didn’t want to be a part of the drama that I would bring, and if you look back on all the episodes, all you’ll see is me involving myself in her drama and everyone else’s. I had to ask her several times not to leave, all scenes that made the cut.
Perhaps if she would have injected herself in my “drama” like I did in hers, maybe I needed that. Maybe I could’ve lasted another week. She even went as far as questioning what my strategy involving her was. I guess she showed America and the rest of the world what her strategy was. Receiving aid, but not reciprocating it.
I’m not mad at her, kudos! Your strategy got you further, and I can’t be mad at her. A couple things she’s taught me was to keep your enemies closer (I just didn’t know I was one of them) and to always turn off your feelings. But I would rather always come to people’s defense, even if that means it’s my time to go home.
It’s undoubtedly true that I may not have always gotten along with some of the cast, but let’s face it: A bunch of models crammed into a house for as long as we were is understandably going to cause some tension. As for the drama on the show, it was unfortunate to see Devin, Mikey and Ashley (especially Ashley) throwing up the “L” sign for ‘Loser’ and trying to bully me, but there’s a bigger issue here.
There are a lot of kids who watch our show. Top Model isn’t just about being a good model, but it’s also about being a good role model for those kids who look up to us. My message to the kids who watch our show is to remember that when people act like that, they are really speaking about themselves because people are what their actions say they are.
But it’s all water under the bridge. I’m looking forward, not backward. I’ve been so busy with so many projects.
The future is bright
Being in the competition has been a life-changing experience. I went into this competition with only one goal — to win it. But I’ve learned so much from Tyra Banks, Miss J, Kelly Cutrone, Yu Tsai and the rest of the team that I’m leaving the show with 10 new goals, no, actually 22! The competition has not only opened my eyes but opened doors to so many new possibilities. Leaving the competition is definitely not the end, but the beginning.
Since the competition started airing, I shot a video with Jessica Sutta, formerly of The Pussycat Dolls, in Los Angeles; hosted parties with superstar DJs Hardwell and Calvin Harris in Las Vegas; walked for several designers during New York Fashion Week last week; and shared the catwalk with Victoria’s Secret supermodel Adriana Lima.
Us Weekly has also asked me to become a fashion contributor. Now I’m back in Los Angeles, where I’m continuing to pursue modeling as well as acting. I can’t say too much yet about what’s coming, but let’s just say that I’m taking a lot of meetings right now.
There was a time in my life, and not very long ago, when I was just a little brown Latino boy on foreign land with only $100 to my name, and a head full of curls living on Skid Row. Literally. But if people would have asked me if I ever thought that all of this could happen, I would have said yes. My motto is, “Speak it into existence.” I told myself every day that I would make this happen. And if it can happen for me, it can happen for other people, too. We are all royals.
My parting advice is: Turn dreams into goals, speak those goals into existence, and, if you watch the show, always know the difference between an apple and a nectarine, so you can be the apple (and not the nectarine) of Kelly Cutrone’s eye.