Kristi Gromment

Anyone who has watched the first part of this season’s America’s Next Top Model may have noticed that Kristi, the blonde 20-year-old often seen wearing an American flag dress, was originally from St. Louis. For those who have never seen the show, America’s Next Top Model is a reality-based TV show hosted by Tyra Banks where 14 girls live together and compete to become the next top model. Each girl is taken through a series of photo shoots, catwalks, and interviews from week to week, and a panel of judges decides who is eliminated at the end of each episode. Much like Survivor, each model has one-on-one interviews to discuss the week’s events. They are filmed throughout their entire time on the program. In the end of the series, there is only one winner who receives a contract with Ford Models, a spread in Elle magazine, and a $100,000 contract with Covergirl. 

I spoke with Kristi over the phone in New York about her experience being on this season’s America’s Next Top Model.

How did you get picked to be on Top Model? How did it all start?

I went to an open call in New York. There were about a thousand girls there, so I waited in line all day. They picked 30 girls that day [for callbacks], and that went down to about five. Then I went to L.A. and they picked 14 girls there and that was the cast. It was weird because they did it in L.A. but they didn’t make the final decisions there, so we ended up having to go back to New York. And we went straight from casting, where we didn’t know if we were on the show, and then straight to the show. So we had to pack for two months because we didn’t know if we were going to come back or not.

Once they started filming the show, did you have the cameras on you all the time?

There’s never a time when the cameras were not on. They were everywhere. And you always had to have a microphone on. That was the weird part for me. Even sitting on an airplane, I had to have a microphone strapped to me. It’s hard to sit on a plane for three hours with that on, especially since it was on through the night. I was asleep and I never said a word, but I still had to have the microphone on.

How long were your photo shoots? 

They were longer when there were less and less girls to shoot, but in the beginning, they were about ten minutes. They were not very long because they had to get through 14 girls. We would go through them in a couple hours. And they don’t show it, but you never sleep. We slept about four hours a night, maybe. Sometimes it would be more than that, because on days where everyone was doing interviews, you could kind of sleep all day, but mostly it was from one thing to another, doing shoots and stuff, and the judging usually went on all night long. On TV, the judging takes about 15 minutes, but in reality, the judges are there for about 12 hours.

On the show, you commented on the episode where everyone was filmed topless.

I knew that was going to happen. I wasn’t so freaked out. I think they kind of made that my angle, that I felt weird and nervous about it, but I wasn’t. I mean, I wasn’t going to walk around topless like everyone else was, but I knew I was going to do it. I didn’t even think twice about it; I just thought, “OK, today’s the day I’m gonna do it.” At the time, I thought my family probably wouldn’t like the fact that I was going to be in People magazine half naked, but I couldn’t do much about that so I just did it.

It seemed like they really focused on the fact that you’re a Republican and that you wore an American flag dress on the show.

They played that up big time. In every interview I ever went to, they would ask, “ Do you have your dress?” So I would always have to bring it down. It was my gimmick, maybe even the reason I got on the show. The application I had to fill out and send in was about 17 pages long. One of the things it asked about were my beliefs and values, things like that. So I just talked about how I get so tired of New Yorkers who think they know everything and focusing on what it’s like to be a Democrat versus a Republican, and that everyone in the Midwest is stupid. So I put that on my application and that sort of became my personality on the show. I’m really kind of a liberal Republican, though. I may have said I’m tired of Democrat know-it-alls. But then in all my interviews they kept asking me what I think of different religions or what I think of gay people and all this stuff and I said, “They’re cool. And that doesn’t have very much to do with what were talking about on this show.”

I had the same experience when I lived in Seattle: people thinking that everyone in the Midwest was stupid

It’s annoying, isn’t it? There’s only so much of that a person can take.

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