August 5, 2010
In April of 2006, Fans of Reality TV (FORT) interviewed Cycle 6‘s Leslie Mancia following her elimination and appearance on the show. Here is the text from the interview (written and posted by Hepcat):
America’s Next Top Model 6: Interview With Leslie, 4/16/06
Last week we watched as Leslie became the sixth contestant eliminated from Tyra’s Model Bootcamp. While Leslie shined in many of her photos, we’ll have to take the judges at their word when they say she lacked presence, since the editors left most of Leslie’s Top Model experience on the cutting room floor. It also didn’t help her screen time ratio to be the kind of person who handles her own problems and doesn’t complain to the people around her. But that doesn’t mean that this 18-year-old from Arizona wasn’t feeling the stress of Tyra’s little pressure cooker. In this interview, we learn what the show didn’t tell us about Leslie – who her friends were, and why we never saw her in a tearful confessional.
Congratulations on getting so far in the competition.
Thank you very much. I’m familiar with your site, I check it out from time to time.
A lot of folks think you took great photos on the show. Do you agree that that’s where your strength lies?
Yes, I think that’s what helped me stay as long as I did stay. They established that, yeah, I can take a good photo, I can model, they told me I’m photogenic. That was the thing about my elimination – when it came to everything else, especially my runway performance, they said they weren’t seeing the whole package.
Were you a fan of the show? Had you seen any of the previous cycles?
I always liked the show, but in all honesty I didn’t watch it religiously. I’ve never been a huge TV person where I could sit down for hours and watch the boob tube, but I’d seen a couple episodes and thought it was a good show.
Did you identify with any previous contestant?I didn’t watch it that intensely. Adrianne always seemed pretty cool, she always seemed kind of goofy and out there. I like those kind of people; I like outgoing, funny people. I know you don’t get that from watching the show, but I’m kind of the total opposite of what you see on there, (laughs) so I identify more with her. So how would you describe yourself, since we didn’t see too much of you?
Yeah, man! The wonders of editing. I will say that I was a lot more reserved than I usually am in my every day normal life. I think the accumulation of stress, anxiety, the lack of sleep, the lack of privacy, and my nerves were shot, I wasn’t eating as much – I think all of these things put together, the way that I coped with it was to be more reserved and staying more to myself than usual. I’m the kind of person that needs a couple hours each day to be by myself, and in the show you wake up, and you see the girls. You go to sleep, and they’re there. They’re always there! Even though I got along with them fine, sometimes I felt like I needed to be by myself or I felt like I was going to go crazy. I think they focused more on some of the girls that had more drama, but at the same time, it wasn’t like I was on mute. I made friendships with the girls, I bonded with them, there was conversation in there that obviously involved talking, which I did do, and they don’t really show that.
Okay, I’m going to read off some names, and I’d like you to tell me what you thought of them in a sentence or two. So … first off, an easy one:
Jade: (Laughs) How did I know she was going to be first? There is a lot I can say about Jade. Honestly, I know this might be a surprise to people, but I really got along with her in the house. I would kind of hear some girls talk about her now and then, but you know, everyone talks about everyone, and not necessarily always in a malicious way. You’re just meeting these girls, opinions are going to be formed. There’s no way of getting around that, there’s always going to be talking behind people’s backs. She was always so nice to me. She was always giving me encouraging words and advice, and I don’t think she was trying to sabotage me. To me, it seemed like she was being sincere. And then, when you watch the show, I don’t know if it’s editing, but some of the things that come out of her mouth, it’s like, “Oh, Jade.” (Laughs) “You should have thought twice before you said that.” But I think I gave her the benefit of the doubt when I was in the house. She’s one of the girls I’ve talked to the most since the show ended, so I think by now, what’s the point of holding a grudge against someone or thinking negatively of someone who always treated me so nicely? I don’t have anything against her.
It surprises me a little just because you were on the younger end, and she was the oldest one in the house, right?
She was 26, but she doesn’t really act like she’s 26. I don’t know what 26-year-olds are supposed to act like, but she’s kind of a goofball. She’s funny. You don’t really see that – I’m sure people see things, they kind of laugh at her and not with her, but she’s a character. We ended up getting along well. I have friends who are older; I don’t think about age all that much.
Who was your best friend in the house, would you say?
By far, Brooke. I absolutely love Brooke, and I talk to her practically every day. She’s the biggest sweetheart. She one of the most sincere and genuine people I’ve ever met in my life. She kind of kept me sane there. We just bonded right off the bat. She’s great.
What did you think about Brooke’s clash with Nnenna?
It’s one of those things … I think they make it seem like this huge deal, but I think it lasted maybe the span of two days and they got over it. They weren’t best friends in the house, they tolerated each other. I know in this last episode they aired Brooke saying something about Nnenna going back to Africa, and I can see some people taking that out of context and saying that Brooke must be racist. It’s one of those things that come out of your mouth when you’re mad, but knowing Brooke, she did not mean anything by it. Even talking with her afterwards, she said, “Oh God, I feel so bad, I should apologize to her.” She really made it an bigger deal than it even was in her head, she felt really bad about it.
Furonda: Princess. Jade called her the diva, but I like calling her Princess because she always wore a little crown on her head. She is another character. When you first meet her, you don’t really know what to think of her. She pulled out these rules and we were like, what the heck? We laughed at her because it seemed so ridiculous, but you find out that it’s just her sense of humor. She’s just able to laugh at herself. She walks around with this little fake tiara on her head, but she’s laughing along with everyone else. She’s funny – she’s funny as heck. Those were some of the best moments. The same people always ended up together in cars when we went somewhere – me, Nnenna, Furonda and Jade, usually. Furonda was like this little church lady. She would act like a church lady and it was always a crack up. She was a cool girl to live with.
I wanted to ask you about Mollie Sue, because I don’t know if you read her interview last week, but she said that she felt that you were a lot more boring than she was. So I was wondering what your opinion of that is.
I read that. My first reaction was, that is shady. What in the world? I was never really close to her in the house, but we have kind of gotten in contact a little since the show ended. We send emails back and forth, and she always says things like, “I miss you,” or “It’s nice to hear from you,” yadda yadda yadda. Nothing that would ever lead me to believe that’s what she actually was thinking. Out of all the words in the English dictionary, that’s the only one she could come up with? It surprises me. But I think she’s cleared things up since her interviews. Some people have asked me questions about that, and I understand where she was coming from. I don’t think she was talking so much about me as a person, but I think the way the editing went. I think she meant, why was it that she was typecasted as the boring one when they were giving me even less airtime than her? Which is the truth, and I totally agree with that. So I have nothing against Mollie Sue. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure she didn’t mean anything about it, and I’m sure I’ll see her again and everything will be cool.
What’s your opinion of Tyra, now that it’s over?
I’ve heard her say before that the girls love her when they get in the house, but once they leave they start hating her. I can’t say that I disliked her. We didn’t see her a whole lot, unfortunately. I know she’s busy with her talk show, and with the show itself – she’s a producer of Top Model – so I don’t think she probably didn’t have the time to sit down and bond with us. The little that we did get to see of her, though, she was one of the nicest judges. She gave constructive criticism. The other judges were a lot more harsh than she was, so she didn’t seem that bad at all. I think all the girls wished that we could have gotten to get to know her a little better.
Who was the harshest judge?
For me, I would say Miss Jay just because runway was his thing – and I completely massacred it. I think he was always on my case about that. I would go into judging, and he would be the one who would make little snarky comments about me. But at the same time, he’s still hilarious, so when he does say something mean about you, it’s still hilarious. You’re thinking, “What just came out of his mouth?” You’re laughing with him, he’s a crack-up.
What is panel really like? How long does the criticism go on, or do you get praise that we don’t see?
Panel is so different than how they show it on TV. For one thing, we’re waiting. We were always waiting. We were waiting an hour or two before we would even go into a photoshoot or the judging room – there would always be a waiting room. So we would wait a couple of hours before we would finally get in there. And it was just like, the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever gone through. It’s crazy. You never know what they’re going to pull at you. There’s always the mini-challenges, a lot of them which didn’t even show on TV, so it was always a surprise. Obviously they’re not going to tell you what they’re going to do. God knows half the time I probably looked like a fool going in there anyway.
It’s crazy because I think entering the show, I didn’t think I was going to tense up and get as nervous as I did because throughout my auditioning process and throughout semi-finals, I remember going in there the first time that you meet the judges, and I was genuinely excited to meet them. I was barely even nervous, and I think that showed through and that helped me make the top 13 because they saw that spunk and that spark. As soon as the competition started, I lost that. I started getting nervous, and I started getting insecure. You can see that; they were obviously able to see that in judging.
Did you really think you would lose against Sara?
I think she’s doing great. The first photo shoot, they told her that she had one of the best photos in ANTM history, so I think after that her bar was set really high and it kind of got to her. So I wasn’t surprised that she was in the bottom two. But I honestly knew that I was going to go home. I think I was probably a lot harder on myself than I should have been; looking back at the episodes now, I see that I wasn’t doing that bad. But then, you’re there, and you tend to dwell on the negative, at least for me. They tell you positive things, and you forget about that and you think, okay, my walk sucks, and you start getting insecure about it. That week had just been a really tough week for me. The accumulation of all the stress really took its toll on me. As much as I was trying to do well, I just had a gut feeling in my stomach that maybe it was time to go. I remember before going into the judging room, I cried, because I felt it. I kind of made peace with myself – I’m going to go home, it’s okay, I got as far as I could and great things are going to come out of this hopefully. So, I knew it. Look at my face on the show – I don’t look that surprised. I was ready for it.
You described yourself as “reserved”, but I always felt like of all the girls you were handling the stress really well, so it’s a little surprising to hear how much the stress was affecting you. Maybe because you didn’t get the screentime, I don’t know.
I’m the kind of person, even in my own personal life, I’m not one to – I mean, you see Brooke. She’ll say right out, “I feel very insecure about this” and she’s very verbal about it. I’m not one to be very verbal about it. I think to myself, it’s okay, I can handle it by myself, I’ll be alright. Even when I spoke to my family about it at home, I kind of made it seem that I felt better than I was actually feeling because I didn’t want them to worry. That’s just the kind of person I am. It’s not something I verbalized with the girls a lot. Every now and then I would say, “Oh God, I know I’m going home next week” – but everyone says that. No one is ever really secure.
You were like the polar opposite of Gina, meaning, you could see every emotion cross her face.
I was very aware of that, especially being on reality TV and having the cameras on you 24/7. I was very concerned with the way they were going to portray me, and I didn’t want them to make an hour segment on the fact that I was crying because I thought I was going to go home. If I ever did cry, I made sure that I wasn’t in front of the cameras. They never caught that. I don’t think I was every fully comfortable with the idea of being taped. You know all this when you’re going into the show, but you don’t really know how it’s going to affect you until you’re there.
What’s ahead for you, Leslie? Are you planning to pursue a career in modeling?
Yes, definitely! Going into this I had no clue about anything when it came to modeling, no idea whatsoever. I think other girls, they had already done this and they knew this is what they wanted to do, but for me, it was kind of a learning trial. I didn’t even know if I was going to like it. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t want to win because I did, but fortunately, I did learn that I loved it. If there was any time that I felt at ease, even if I did feel nervous during photoshoots, within the first five minutes you totally get into it and it’s such a rush. You feel completely transformed and you’re in a whole other world. So I feel like it’s something that I have to do again. I absolutely loved it.
Thanks to UPN for granting the interview, and best of luck to Leslie in her future career.
August 5, 2010
Interview With Bisexual Top Model Contestant Leslie Mancia
Arizona State University student Leslie Mancia found an unexpected entry into the modeling world when she was selected as a contestant in UPN’s hit show, America’s Next Top Model. Though she was recently eliminated from the show, Leslie found it to be a good experience, and one that taught her a lot about modeling. She continues to pursue a career in modeling, and hopes to gain representation by summer.
She recently talked to AfterEllen.com about her experiences on the show, and how the reality of her life as a contestant translated to the edited version of the show viewers see each week.
AfterEllen.com: What’s going on with you post-Top Model?
Leslie Mancia: I’m finishing my sophomore year at ASU. I still want to model so I’ve been talking to agencies and trying to get that going. I hope to get signed by the end of the summer. I’m working now to save money. So I’m doing everyday life, normal kind of stuff. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get more into modeling and things will change.
AE: You’re studying law?
LM: Criminal justice.
AE: That’s right, I remember that because of the photo shoot!
LM: (laughs) I’m not studying to be a dominatrix, which is what they switched it around to be.
AE: So when you get signed, will you take a break from school and model instead?
LM: I’ve thought about it a lot. I think right now I want to take a break from school. It is very important to get my degree, and you always need a Plan B. Modeling isn’t a very secure business. But I’m kind of old getting into this as it is. These girls are off when they’re 13 or 14, it’s crazy. I’m already 19 so it’s now or never. I just want to get into it and go full force force and throw myself into this business. I feel like school is going to be there, and I know I’m going to go back. I’ll finish it eventually.
AE: Did you make any connections on ANTM that you’re continuing to cultivate now?
LM: Well, not really. They’re very protective of us. We couldn’t really give our numbers out or anything like that. It’s up to us now. UPN will tell us, “This agency contacted you” or “These people want to do this with you.” But right now it’s up to us. Even as the winner, it’s up to you to get your career going. So I think that once I move out to Los Angeles, that’s when I’m really going to start my networking.
AE: You’re moving to LA?
LM: I’m going to go to a bunch of agencies and see who wants me. But right now because it’s closest to home—I live in Arizona—I think that’s where I’m looking to go in the future.
AE: Is it different for you on campus now that you’ve had the ANTM experience and are in classes with people who probably watched you on the show?
LM: It’s not anything too crazy. I was just talking to Jade today and she was telling me about some incidents she’d had where people were noticing her. And it’s never been that bad, like every minute, but I do go out and at least once a day someone will notice me. But nothing too crazy, no one’s following me, I don’t have any stalkers. (Laughs) I haven’t quite reached that status of celebrity.
I’ll be at school and someone will say, “Hey, you’re that girl from Top Model.” And I say, “Yeah, thanks for talking to me. Have a nice day.” (Laughs) It’s kind of awkward, you never know what to say. It’s flattering and it hasn’t been too nuts.
AE: Which were your favorite of the photo shoots?
LM: I have to say the dominatrix one, it was fun! (laughs)
AE: Okay, now you’re gonna get some stalkers! Do you really want me to quote you on that? (laughs)
LM: Go ahead man, it’s okay. (laughs) No, but it was fun! You get these whips…I was eager. I’m not gonna lie. I was eager cause we had this male model, whips, chains and I had handcuffs. We had this table and I wanted to use the table too and they said, “No, we already used that for another girl.” And I got all depressed, I wanted to use everything! (laughs) It was kind of kinky, but not too crazy. It didn’t cross the line. But you can still be sexy without being slutty. It was fun to work with.
AE: Are you watching the show now with your friends?
LM: Yeah, I have since the first episode. I have viewing parties and we all get together every Wednesday.
AE: They must have gotten a kick out of your dom session.
LM: Yeah, they loved it. And I told my mom about it beforehand. She asked if there was anything she needed to know before she watched the show. And I said, “Well, it wasn’t a big deal or anything but, they kind of had me as a dominatrix. So don’t get offended or anything. Oh, and you might see me naked in the pool a couple of times.”
AE: Ah, the infamous hot tub. It’s a very important gathering place where a lot of things go down.
LM: Yeah, you come back at the end of the day and you’re tired and want to relax, so you get in there naked. (laughs)
AE: Well, this is where my mind goes now: Were you out as bisexual when you were on the show–-to the other contestants or the producers?
LM: It’s something that I first mentioned in my initial interview. They asked me to talk about myself and my sexuality is an important part of me, so I said this is what I am. Then I changed the subject, because I didn’t want to be “the lesbian” on there. I think they already had that last season, and I wasn’t trying to have a gimmick or anything. Not that she was, but that was not my intention. So I started talking about other things.
I think that’s something they didn’t decide to play up because there wasn’t anything to play up. It just is what it is. So they were aware.
AE: So if you’d had a girlfriend that you were on the phone with all the time—well, I’m assuming you didn’t because we never saw it.
LM: No I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, and I don’t have one now. But maybe then they would have.
AE: One of the rumors I’ve heard is that there have been other openly lesbian and bisexual contestants on the show last season (the season with Kim) and on the current show too, but that the Top Model producers have played it down, with the attitude of “we’ve already done the gay thing, it’s played out.” Did you get that impression?
LM : Well they do want the ratings…Again, if I had something for them to use—like if I had a girlfriend or had seduced someone in the house, they might have chosen to do it. It is kind of played out because there have been other lesbians in past seasons as well. I think with me, they weren’t trying to hide it. I guess I just wasn’t very vocal about it. I don’t know what they would have done if I had been.
AE: Speaking of bisexuality, when Janice Dickinson is on the show I always think she’s flirting with the contestants.
LM: I have a funny story about her. Remember the first episode when they staged the press conference? She asked this question, “What would you do if another girl hit on you during a photo shoot?” Everyone looked at me and kind of laughed because they all know I’m bi. So I felt the question was kind of directed at me. So I answered it, but they didn’t air it. Then she gives feedback to each of the girls afterwards, and she says to me, “Leslie, we know you’re bi. We don’t really care.” I was like, okay, well I wasn’t trying to make a big deal, like “I’m a girl lover!” But she says, “That’s boring.” But they didn’t show that. I thought “Whatever. I wasn’t trying to excite you.” (laughs)
AE: I know we can’t talk about the outcome yet, but–to date—were there any people who you were surprised to see eliminated as early as they did?
LM: I think the biggest surprise for me was Kari. She’s gorgeous and she has a good look. I didn’t necessarily expect her to be the winner, but I didn’t expect her to get kicked off as early as she did. Especially instead of Gina. And that’s not because I have anything against Gina, but Gina would tell you herself that she was doing horribly and she didn’t want to be there.
So for Kari to be eliminated before her—especially when she has such a great photo the week before. She kind of messed up the week she got kicked off because she fell on her heels. But girls were falling all over the place! Hello, my walk was horrible! At least she could walk! She wasn’t doing bad and so for her to get kicked off…I was angry, I couldn’t believe it.
So after that, I thought if she can get eliminated at this point in the game, then anybody can go next. As for Nnenna, when you watch the show, she started off so great. And even though she was winning all of these challenges, her beauty wasn’t translating into the pictures. So that wasn’t a surprise for me either.
AE: On the show, it seems like the people who are more contained get underestimated. If you’re not having a nervous breakdown in the hot tub then you’re almost critiqued for it. You and Mollie Sue both seemed like pretty normal, together people, but because you’re not making anyone scream and cry it’s deemed as not being good TV.
LM: I agree. The oddest thing about Mollie Sue is that the way she was in the house was completely the opposite of the way they edited her to be. She had one of the biggest personalities there, and it was just odd to see how they edited her. Even me—in my normal life I’m very outgoing, very friendly. There, I was a little more reserved than I usually am, so I kind of expected my edits. But I didn’t think they would go as far as they did where they never showed me! (laughs)
AE: What do you think wins the competition? Is it really great pictures and a great walk? Or is it more about what kind of person is this and can we trust them to go around representing the show? For instance Lisa on the last season, she was amazing to look at and she was an interesting character, but she was a loose cannon. Would they ever let her represent the show after she peed in the diaper at that photo shoot?
LM: Honestly, I don’t know—I don’t think so. I think each season they’re looking for something different. Last season Tyra kept saying that they chose Nicole because they wanted someone who was high fashion. With Eva, they wanted someone who was more of a celebrity. If you look at her now, she’s almost gone more the celeb route than modeling. I think she’s doing movies now.
I think this season they’re looking for someone who has a personality that the viewers could relate to, who people would really love. And obviously with potential, who could model, has the runway down and can take good pictures. They want the whole package this season.
AE: Is there anything that you experienced on the show that really doesn’t come through on the televised version?
LM: Arguments get blown out of proportion, and the way they edit people. Like Jade, especially early on, they made her look like an evil person. But she’s not nearly that bad, I got along with her fine. We’re friends and we talk. They need their ratings and so they need the girls to play their roles. That was her role, she was “the bitch” and that’s not really who she is. Little things like that. But it’s to be expected. It’s reality TV.
AE: Was it a good experience for you? Are you glad you did it?
LM: Definitely! I never would have tried modeling had it not been for the show. I was interested but I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do it. Everything I know about modeling I learned from the show.
AE: And now you have a great portfolio.
LM: Yes, at the end of the show they give all of us the portfolios to take with us to agencies.
AE: Anything else we should know about you or the show?
LM: Any hot chicks out there, I’ll give you my number later. (laughs)
AE: Thanks for talking with us, and good luck with your career.