Lights, Camera, Action
We arrive in Los Angeles at the Sheraton hotel. Actually it's in Burbank and it’s pretty nice. I’d never been to Burbank CA before. Apparently it’s where all the big shot studios are.
We get there, and there are tons of huge cameras, and at least 200 crew members working the show. I guess I had never really thought about the behind the scenes stuff…because you never see it right?!
Well, I had to wear a microphone the whole time, and there were big lights and cameras everywhere….which was REALLY WEIRD. At first, I couldn’t stop staring directly into the cameras. The producers had to remind me several times, “Uhh Raina, you need to stop looking in the cameras and interacting with the camera crew”. WHAT!?
Now think about it, if you have three extremely large cameras in your face and a microphone box shoved somewhere in the back of your pants, you would naturally tend to be slightly or extremely distracted. However, I learned quickly to get passed this.
It’s crazy to really see and realize how big of a deal a TV show is.
There are so many people behind the scenes that have stuff they need to get done. The camera crew, sound crew, lighting crew, talent (Tyra, the J’s etc.), not to mention all of the assistants trying to herd us girls around and get us where we are supposed to be.
The most difficult part of it all is, right when we get there, our cell phones are confiscated as well as any other form of communication with the outside world (to make sure we don’t reveal information about the show or our whereabouts). Well, as any normal girl, I reeeeeallly need my cellular device.
Right when we arrived, we all had to take personality and mental health tests. This was odd. I’d never taken a mental health test before. My most favorite question on the test; “Do you believe there is someone living in your bathroom trying to kill you?” I'm thinking, “Is this for real?!!!” Anyway, I finish all of the tests which took about 3 hours and then I went to bed.
The next day was the physical exam. I was dreading this. Am I going to have to get nakey? Don’t worry, I didn’t! It was the usual, height, weight, blood test, pee in a cup kind of thing. Now that I had conquered all this, I was ready to meet Tyra for the first time.
Two days of anticipation was just killing me! All of the 32 semi-finalists walk into this big black room. I’m looking around thinking, “What are we doing here?" There are seven monster cameras around us so something big is about to happen. I brace myself . . . but not enough. All of a sudden Tyra Banks pops into the room looking gorgeous as usual. I immediately start jumping up and down like a four year old at an ice cream store.
As I watched the show last night and saw this, all of the memories came flooding back to me. Alasia threw herself on the floor; girls where screaming everywhere; I’m thinking, “Pick meeeee!”
Only Three Poses
The whole theme of this first episode is Tyra’s "MyFiercePage.com". So Tyra lets us know that there there is going to be a cut soon where some of us will be eliminated and receive a "declined" friend request on her MyFiercePage. So, all of a sudden the J’s pop out looking suave and fine as they always are. Again, screams, and shrieks fly. Tyra lets us all know that Mr. J is going to be helping us with a photo shoot for our own MyFiercePages and Miss J will be helping us do our “Netwalk”.
After eating some lunch, one by one, we all get to meet up with Mr. J and the photographer. Right away Mr. J lets me know that I only get three shots. Now, they didn’t show this part (thank goodness) but I was so nervous for some reason I was shaking….and perhaps sweating…a lot. Mr. Jay says, “Raina, you look nervous…are you nervous?” My response, “YEP!!!” So, I took my photographs, which I don’t believe were all that rad and left the room. My thoughts immediately after are, “I COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH BETTER!”
Be Nice to the Runway
Next up: The Catwalk with Miss J.
All 32 of us pile into a room where we walk up and down the catwalk showing Miss J what we’ve got. This was definitely terrifying seeing as you are doing this in front of the best runway walker (pretty much EVER) and 31 other girls who are staring at you. Somehow I pushed those nerves away and my competitiveness took over. I wasn’t about to get eliminated.
They didn’t show this part on the show last night but Miss Jay told me that I walk so hard I make the ground shake and that I needed to be a little nicer to the runway. Oops!
However, it’s better than being told:
- “you act like you don’t have arms”
- “you act like you don’t own your left leg”
- “you walk like you are a stripper”
- “are you on your way to killing someone?”
- “you look like a bobble-head doll”
- and my personal favorite, “do you even own heels?”
So, I guess my critique could have been worse. After this, we got a chance to walk by ourselves in front of the cameras alone, without Miss J or the girls to examine us. I did my best, and then hoped for even better.
Robot in a Bikini
That evening, we all got into our bikinis and waited to enter THE JUDGING ROOM. Now, let me tell you...walking in front of at least seven cameras, by yourself, in front of Tyra Banks, the J’s, and at least 200 other people on set . . . with no music . . . is terrifying. Once again, I feel the perspiration. Great, now I’m sweating. So, what do I do? ROCK IT. I walk into the room in that tiny weenie leopard bikini and pretend I’m on a Victoria’s Secret runway because I know confidence is key . . . even though I definitely wasn’t feeling all that confident.
Then I was asked the question: “Tell me about yourself”. REALLY…what am I supposed to say? Because whatever I am about to say could be possibly be broadcast all over the country, and many others. Here goes Raina, don’t screw this up.
“Well, I am a two time national champion volleyball player and extremely competitive. I was beat up in middle school a couple times and I know how to do a great robot dance” ….WHAT DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST SAY YOU IDIOT!!! And then I froze.
“Well Raina, let’s see that robot dance”. So, yes . . . I did the robot for about a whole two minutes that seemed to last for at least a half hour. No, they didn’t show any of this, and I thank Tyra and the CW for sparing me (but now you know). After that grand ol’ time, all of the girls went to bed.
The next morning was THE MORNING. We all knew what was coming. ELIMINATION (Dun Dun DUNNNNN). And if you are wondering, no I didn’t sleep at all that night, but I did have a dance party in my room alone. We get up in the morning, eat some breakfast, and are brought into a room where we see television screens with each of our faces on them. I am frantically looking for my face. YES IT’S THERE!!! But so is everyone else’s. WHAT IS GOING ON?
Pending or Denied?
The J’s let us know that we have to go touch the screens and if it says, “pending” that means that we are still in the running. If it says, “Denied” . . . well . . . then you are denied. I run up to my screen and stop for a good few moments. I'm thinking, "What happens if I press it and it says 'denied'? Am I going to cry? No Raina! You can’t cry! Be tough. You got this far. So many girls dream of getting this far. Just smile and be polite. You did great. ...ready ...set ...push ...PENDING!!!!!!!!
They didn’t show this, but I screamed SO LOUD . . . probably too loud. I AM ON TO THE NEXT ROUND. Now there are only twenty of us.
Imitate Your Favorite
Next up: photo shoot. We come into a room with a rack of clothes, a bunch of heels, three tables covered in hair products and makeup, and of course Mr. J. We are told that we only have a few minutes to change, and prepare ourselves for this photo shoot. The theme of the photo shoot is “Pick your favorite supermodel, and imitate her”. So, I pick Adriana Lima.
First of all, the girl is gorgeous and she knows how to demand attention on a runway, and secondly, I love how confident she is. Suddenly, I gather up a whole lot of confidence and think of the poses I want to do (since each girl only gets six poses). What is with this whole (only a couple of shots) thing? A little stressful if you ask me. You have to nail those shots and impress Mr. J because after all, he is the eyes and ears of Tyra. So, I whip out my fiercest Adriana Lima poses and get great reviews from J. “I can actually see those poses in a Victoria’s Secret Magazine”, he says. My thoughts, " REALLLLYYY!!?!?!?!?!?!?!” I can’t believe it. I nailed the shoot!
Alexandra cracked me up. Cindy Crawford . . . the mole! Quality.
But Tatiana...when I heard her say Megan Fox I wanted to press the rewind button, run over to her and say, “p.s…..Megan Fox is definitely not a supermodel in case you are thinking of picking her”, then RUN back and press play again. However, unfortunately we don’t have this ability in the game of life and….she said it.
I really thought Gina (the plus size girl with the long beautiful hair) did a great job on her poses.
Well anyway, the photo shoot is now over and we are told that next time we’d be seeing Mr J is in panel.
All 20 of us walk into the room . . . completely silent. No one knows what to expect. I have a good feeling in my stomach because Mr. J gave me a great critique on my photo shoot, but at the same time I am remembering that Miss J wasn’t the biggest fan of my runway walk. Then all of a sudden Tyra announces that only TWELVE of us are going to be picked. “...WHAT?”
Please Tyra pick me!!! First name is called…..not me. Second name is called…..not me. “Stop freaking out Raina, there are still ten names to go!” Third name called….not me. Fourth name called, “RAINA!” I had a feeling right after Tyra called Simone’s name that she would be calling me because I saw Tyra look at every single girl BESIDES ME. I'm thinking, “She is so about to call my name.” And she did! My response, “THAT’S MY NAME!” I run down the steps, jump off of them and run over to the winners circle and commence jumping up and down.
After watching this part on TV last night, I'm thinkng, “Raina…you are such a goober”.
The rest of the names get called and we are told that we will be meeting the 13th girl when we get to New York. “Who is this girl?! Competition?”
I can’t believe I just made it to a finalist on America’s Next Top Model . . . I have watched this show since cycle 1 AND NOW I AM ON IT! WOAH!!
So, I get to go home for one week to pack and get ready for the big NYC. Leaving was horrible. I cried so hard. Knowing I wouldn’t get to talk to my family or Kristof for however long I’d be there. It just killed me. But, I got on the plane. We all arrive in New York and are cell phones…CONFISCATED, again. I knew it had to be done and it was legitimate protocol…but it KILLED ME. I felt naked.
Anyway, we are walking down the streets close to Times Square. I have never been to this city before so I am like a kid in a candy store. WHAT TO LOOK AT?!!? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the one and only fabuliciousness Perez Hilton pops out and announces to us that we will be visiting Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. He gives us a tour of the museum and when we get to the statue of Tyra, she pops out on the balcony above us!!!! TYRA IS HERE! I can’t believe it. It’s all starting now. I’m in NYC with Tyra Banks, and I AM going to be America’s Next Top Model.
All of a sudden Tyra announces that we are about to meet the 13th girl. My thoughts: “Ummm . . . hmm.” Ren pops out! In my head, all I could think about was "Competition!"
Next announcement by Tyra: MAKEOVERS. My thoughts: “NO! MY HAIR! PLEASE DON’T SHAVE MY HEAD!!!” As we walk out the door of the museum we see a very sleek, white limo waiting for us. “I feel like a celebrity!” We pull up to the Sally Hershberger Salon and are greeted once again by the glamorous Mr. and Miss J, as well as Sally Hershberger herself.
We get in the salon and get started. Sally comes up to me, “She is too pretty, we need to do something fierce and drastic…I think I am going to Mohawk this.” I'm thinking, “I'M GOING TO CRY RIGHT NOW….but wait, if I cry they will totally do it because it will make really great television. But if I agree to it and act like I like the idea, they probably won’t.” What I actually say is, “Alright, let’s do this. Dye it pink too”. Obviously they didn’t, and saved my long locks. They're dark now.
Most of my friends and family say that they like it better blonde, but I do feel more like a model now. It’s drastic. They liked the idea of very pale skin against very dark hair and eyebrows. THANK GOODNESS they didn’t touch the brows. They are my signature! So, here I am, with dark brown hair, looking and feeling like a real model, on ANTM Cycle 14 in what’s about to be, a very fierce competition.
Next week: nude photo shoot . . . for the world to see. Yep, you heard it. I just started sweating right now…no joke. My thoughts: “Nooooooooo!!!”
See ya next week March 17th!