Kim Stolz Interview with (Dec 05)

June 18, 2010 conducted an interview with Cycle 5‘s Kim Stolz following her appearance and elimination from the show. Here is the text from the interview (written and posted by Malinda Lo, Senior Writer):

We all knew that UPN’s America’s Next Top Model was one of the gayest shows on TV, but this season upped the queer ante even more when 22-year-old out lesbian Kim Stolz sauntered into Tyra Banks’s catfighting, back-stabbing and totally addictive reality series. Over the course of ten episodes, Stolz braved a series of photo shoots that tested her abilities to femme it up, gave the straight girls a taste of dyke drama, and landed a cameo spot on the UPN drama Veronica Mars. But after failing to win the judges over with her impression of a modern-day Venus, Stolz was sent back to her native New York, coming in fourth place in the competition.

We caught up with her during her post-show media blitz, when she gave us the dish on what really happened in that limo, who she liked and who she didn’t, and why everyone seemed to be sleeping in adjoining beds.

AfterEllen: Let’s go back a bit. So you went to college at Wesleyan, you majored in international relations, is that right?
Kim Stolz:
Yeah, government and international politics.

AE: So those aren’t exactly experiences we would normally associate with the desire to be a model. What initially drew you to modeling?
Well, my mom [Carol Brandt] was a model, a very successful model, in the 1960s and 70s. And I think I had watched videos of her when I was younger, on a runway, and I was always sort of drawn to it, but it seemed that everything in my life had prepared me for an academic realm, so I was planning on going toward that. But I was finishing up my senior year, and my friends and I were talking about what we were going to do, and I thought that it would be a really exciting risk to take. It was something that I had thought about, but not something that my interest was really strong in yet. But it turned out on the show that my interest became much stronger than I ever expected it to, and now it is something I want to pursue.

AE: It seems like everyone who auditioned for the show really, really wanted to be a model. How did you convince them to cast you when you didn’t have such a strong interest?
I think that it’s not necessarily the person who most wants to be a model who is the person who should. I think sometimes people want things so badly that they sort of jinx themselves, psych themselves out. I think that I wanted to be cast not because of desire, but because of my potential as a model, and I think that’s exactly why I was cast.

AE: So it seems like when you auditioned you also came out right away. Is that true?
I came out in terms of sexuality?

AE: Yeah.
Yeah. They ask you at auditions about your life, and I am not someone who, when asked about my life, is going to hide a huge part of it. So of course I came out—I think in my first audition.

AE: So for you, there just wasn’t really any choice to make?
I think they maybe asked me about a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and that kind of sparked it right there.

AE: Yeah, I’ve seen that in their audition application.
Right. Before I even got to the audition when I filled out the application, the answer was already there right in front of them.

AE: Were you out to your family before you auditioned?
Yes, I came out to my family—or my immediate family, my parents, when I was 16.

AE: That’s young.
Well, it wasn’t really accepted right away, but now about eight years later, it’s going much—or what is it, six? No, how many years is it? Oh, it’s six years later, and it’s going much better.

AE: [Laughs.] So you’re 22 now?
I’m 22. It seems like it’s been eight years, believe me.

AE: Has your extended family seen the show? They all know?
Everybody knows.

AE: How has that been?
It’s been good for the most part. I think there was a bit of surprise on certain people’s ends, but everyone is very supportive of me, and it’s my belief that if you come out to someone and you’re proud of it and you’re excited about it, they really have no choice but to be accepting. There’s obviously the exception, but this is my belief and my experience. Whereas if you come out and you’re very afraid and hesitant and insecure about it, people are much more likely to be critical. So me being so proud of it, I think, helped their acceptance of it.

AE: All right, so let’s just talk a little bit about Sarah.
Oh God. Obviously. [Laughs.]

AE: Of course! So tell me, from your perspective, what really happened between the two of you.
Well, Sarah and I had grown close as friends in the first few weeks of being in the house. What happened in the limo was absolutely like sort of a mess. [Laughs.] We were not I mean, I had no idea that kiss was coming, first of all, and second of all, it was fun. We were all there and having a good time, and there were actually other kisses that went on in that limo, that went on between other girls who shall remain nameless.

AE: Really? You’re not going to tell me who they were?
No, I’m not. [Laughs.] That’s for them to say. But they focused on my kiss with Sarah because I’m the lesbian, so all my kisses matter, but the limo was really pretty meaningless, obviously very meaningless. As far as anything else that happened, I think you’re in that house and you’re lonely and you’re stressed out, and if you can forge a connection with someone, a closeness, you hold onto that. And Sarah and I were very close friends, and perhaps there was a moment when the friendship lines were blurred, but she and I were on the same page. We both knew that I had a girlfriend that I was very into, and she had someone back home as well. And there wasn’t really much of a romantic feeling going on between us. It was much more of a moment of a question, and then it didn’t happen, obviously. I mean, despite being in an open relationship, I was always emotionally committed to my girlfriend, and physically as well.

AE: And physically as well?
Yeah, physically as well. I mean, if there was a makeout that occurred, so be it, but I don’t really consider that to call into question my relationship in any way.

AE: So you’re referring to the little night vision thing that was shown on TV.
Yeah, the night vision shot looked very different than it seemed in my eyes. I guess that’s up to interpretation.

AE: I can understand your perspective on this. Being a lesbian myself, it seems like, well, okay you hook up, whatever. But since Sarah clearly had never really done that before, do you feel like it was a different experience for her?
I know that’s the way it was portrayed on the episode, that for her it was a much bigger deal, but I’m not sure if that’s true. Sarah and I had a lot of conversations about it, and it seems that for her she was confused about a lot of things in her life, and she was growing as a person. She’s very young; she’s 18 years old, you know? And I think that she has a lot of figuring out to do, and her strife wasn’t don’t think about me and her sexuality, it was about a lot of things. The competition was very stressful in general. And I have dated almost all girls who have not in fact been with girls before, which is a coincidence I’m not just going for them! [Laughs.] But I think that I was definitely conscious of her feelings, and we are definitely on good terms. It’s not like I pieced her out as they made it look on the show. It’s not like that.

AE: So you feel like you were misrepresented?
Misrepresented is a strong word. I think it was definitely exaggerated. I think what went on between us was exaggerated, and I think her stress regarding it was exaggerated.

AE: In a recent interview with, you said that you thought that Sarah was trying. What did you mean by that?
I meant that Sarah is a really talented girl and she tries hard at everything she does, and because [of] how young she is and where she’s from, she has to try a lot harder than a lot of people to achieve the goals that she wants to. I think that Sarah should always be respected for her efforts and for everything she does. And I think she’s someone who always tries her best, and I guess that’s what I meant, and maybe it came out wrongly in that interview.

AE: OK. So how did what happened with Sarah on TV affect your relationship with your girlfriend?
Well, obviously it wasn’t my girlfriend’s favorite show to watch for a little while, but my girlfriend understood that my commitment was always to her, and she also understand that it was reality television; perhaps things were a little bit exaggerated. We have a lot of trust in our relationship and I think that’s what really allowed us to just look at it as something that happened in the past when we were in an open relationship which she made the decision to have, not me. I think it’s been clear since the first time we started dating that I wanted to be with just her. I think she knows that.

AE: How long have you guys been together?
For eight months now. We’d only been together for like six weeks when the show started filming, but that was a long time ago, so when I got back from filming, we resumed our relationship and we’ve been together ever since.

AE: Do you guys consider yourselves polyamorous?
No, absolutely not. As soon as I got back from filming, we made our relationship exclusive.

AE: So you’re no longer in an open relationship.

E: OK, I have to say you also kind of seemed to have a crush on Kyle.
Oh, I do not.

AE: You didn’t?
No. [Laughs.]

AE: Are you sure?
People really want me to have had a crush on Kyle, but you can ask her, you can ask me, there absolutely was no sexual tension between Kyle and I. I mean, the girl is beautiful and she’s amazing, but Kyle is and always has been a very good friend of mine since I met her.

I know everyone wants that, but no, I mean I would tell you, and she would be fine with it if I had had a crush on her. But no, I always looked at Kyle as a great friend and someone I wouldn’t want to lose.

AE: How did you feel living in a house full of straight girls?
Well, actually most of my friends at home are straight. My girlfriends [laughs] my friends who are girls, my female friends are mostly straight, so it really wasn’t that different from anything else. Their sexualities were not what made the house as stressful and crazy [as it was]; it was the nature of the competition, the nature of some of the girls, and being in such close quarters, being sequestered without seeing anyone else for a long period of time.

AE: How long were you there?
Anywhere from 8 to 11 weeks I guess.

AE: In regard to the competition, I felt like you were often being given mixed messages about your appearance. For example, Tyra would tell you to express your masculinity, and then the Jays would kind of chastise you for not being feminine enough. Did you feel like you were being given mixed messages?
Yeah, I definitely felt throughout I think a lot of people did in a lot of ways that we were being given mixed messages. At one point they’re telling me to be myself, and then the next moment they’re saying I should be more feminine. And then they’re telling me that I should be looking in male magazines. I didn’t understand exactly what they wanted of me, so I just tried to do everything. It worked for a while, and then it stopped working.

AE: So your strategy was to just kind of try out everything?
Yeah. I wanted to be versatile as well, and I was also sort of excited to get in touch with my feminine side a little bit more, so I wore some skirts and I dressed femininely some of the times. And then other times I definitely went back to my own personal sense of style and wore that. I think part of the problem was that given that I was so out about my sexuality, I think that a lot of people were very quick to merge my sexuality and gender, and that made them scrutinize my masculinity a whole lot more than they would otherwise.

AE: So how do you personally identify?
In terms of?

AE: Gender.
I don’t really like placing myself in a category in terms of gender. I think gender’s a spectrum just like sexuality, and I don’t think that there are two genders or three or four. I think there are thousands, millions.

AE: I guess I meant more in terms of lesbian cultural notions of gender. Like would you identify as butch or genderqueer?
The butch/femme definition – I mean in the same way, I just don’t believe in categorizing myself, but I don’t really love the term butch. I think that for me, I like to categorize myself as sort of boyish, but definitely with a very feminine face, so I’m sort of a diverse look, I guess. I just don’ really like to place myself in any categories, you know, it changes every day.

AE: I also thought it was interesting that the two Jays are both gay, but they really didn’t seem to understand these complexities of gender. They kept trying to put you in the girl checkbox.
Even just now, that’s the problem. I mean, people merge sexuality and gender, and they’re two different things. Jay Manuel for instance, I really would have no expectation as to whether he’d understand my gender expression or not, regardless of the fact that he’s gay, but Miss J, I was constantly surprised by Miss J’s misunderstanding and criticism of my gender expression. If anyone should understand a type of gender confusion, to me it seems like it should be him. And he was the most critical of my gender identity out of anyone that I was judged by. So, Miss J surprised me and disappointed me in that way.

AE: Did you ever talk to him about it?
I tried to, once, but he shrugged me off. He was eating lunch.

AE: Well, maybe he was just concentrating on eating.

AE: You sound skeptical.

AE: Well, in your last episode, I noticed that after you guys went into the judges panel you all came out and put on different clothes right away. Did you actually make the choice to wear all those miniskirts in the last few episodes? You seemed pretty eager to put your jeans back on.
The competition was getting down to the wire, and if I didn’t show them that I had some amount of versatility in terms of femininity and masculinity, then I would be leaving right away. I knew the judges were very receptive to me wearing short skirts, and it’s not that I was changing my style or changing my self, I was putting on an act for them, and they bought right into it.

AE: Let’s talk about the limo confrontation, the one with Bre and all of them.
The limo was sort of an unfortunate place for me in general, I guess.

AE: Yeah, it didn’t look like the best place in the world. You said in one of your confessional interviews that you felt like you were being scapegoated for talking behind people’s backs when everyone else was doing the same thing.
was scapegoated. I certainly was a culprit of talking about people behind their backs, but who wasn’t in that competition? Bre said something to the effect of loving Jayla because Jayla never talked about anyone, but we had just seen a few episodes back, Jayla talking about Nik in like the most brutal and unfortunate ways.

AE: Is there anything in retrospect that you would have done differently?
I think I wouldn’t have trusted Bre as much as I did. I really trusted her as a friend and I vented to her a lot and I guess it sort of it just struck me in the end as a bad idea, because she used everything I said to her to her advantage and to my disadvantage, and that was disappointing for me.

AE: What was going on with her in the last episode? It seemed like she was really going crazy.
There were several episodes before that conversation in the limo was very confusing to everyone because not only was I sort of being scapegoated, but she was very brutal, calling me an ugly person, and God don’t like ugly. And all I was thinking was, yeah well your God also don’t like gay, so there’s more than a few of us gonna be in trouble with that, but yeah, she went crazy. The competition got to her and she took a turn to crazy town.

AE: Do you think that your actions were portrayed accurately?
For the most part. There were obviously parts of me that were left out and there were parts of me that were exaggerated, but for the most part I think that I was portrayed with respect and accurately.

AE: Tell me what your favorite photo shoot was and why.
The favorite photo shoot of mine was probably either the Wild Boys photo shoot because it was a blast. Not all of our photo shoots were fun; a lot of them were very stressful all the time. Or perhaps my favorite photo shoot would have been the Ford Fusion one, just because I really felt that I succeeded in that, and I felt that I did a great job. So, the Ford Fusion commercial was really great for me.

AE: What was your least favorite photo shoot?
[Laughs.] The first one. The first photo shoot, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was in a gold lame suit with a pink cape, and with these braids coming out every which end of my head, and I was completely uncomfortable and the harness was terrible and my modeling was disastrous, and so [laughs] I think that photo shoot, from the photo as well as my experience, was definitely my least favorite.

AE: What was your favorite challenge?
I think that one of my favorite challenges was probably theVeronica Mars one, because at least that was something that I knew I was doing, and I could always articulate myself in front of people that I’m trying to impress.

AE: Always?
Not always. A lot of the time. I think that when I’ve interviewed for jobs I’ve done a good job. I don’t know, I think that I have a rather in comparison to other people, I have a good way of expressing myself. I also really liked the shopping challenge in the beginning; I thought that was a fun time. I usually like dressing myself and I enjoy expressing myself through style, so that was fun for me.

AE: What was your least favorite challenge?
My least favorite challenge, and I can’t even remember them all. I didn’t really like the Sue Wong runway challenge just because I was really bad at walking at that point, and it was very embarrassing for me, constantly.

AE: Going back to the situation in the house, you said that the people you were least comfortable with were the last few you were left with: Bre, Nik and Jayla. Why do you think you weren’t able to develop a rapport with them?
Well, you can’t be expected to get along with everyone, and the people I got along with greatest were the ones who had left except for Nicole, who I got along with very well. Jayla tended to give a lot of back-handed insults, which bothered me, and I felt that she’s a bit immature. Nik was very quiet, and I don’t think Nik really was interested in becoming friends with anyone, maybe to her benefit, because she was interested in the competition.

AE: Do you keep in touch with any of the girls from the show?
Yeah, I talk to Kyle almost every day. I talk to Ebony. Ebony’s like my favorite person in the world; she’s pretty amazing. And I talk to Nicole.

AE: So you don’t talk to Sarah anymore?
We don’t really talk very much. Sarah and I talked a bit after the show finished filming, but we are on very good terms, Sarah and I, but perhaps just because we both have busy schedules, we haven’t spoken very much.

AE: You said you’ve developed a real love for modeling through of the show, so what are your plans now?
Well, I want to pursue both modeling and acting. I’m very interested in applying to a couple of different acting agencies. I had a really good time at the Veronica Mars challenge, and I had a good time on that set. I definitely also want to go for modeling agencies, and I’ll just see which one works out for the better; perhaps both of them will.

AE: So what are you up to right now?
I just actually left a law firm that I was working at because I wanted to pursue acting and modeling. So I haven’t really had a chance to dive into it yet, but I look forward to it.

AE: OK, one more question for you: Is there anything you want to tell your lesbian fans that you haven’t had a chance to say yet?
Well I think that a lot of lesbians are quick to criticize their own, because when you’re there representing a group,obviously not everyone is going to love you. I’ve felt that I’ve had very positive feedback so far, but I guess I want to say that we’re all in the same fight to achieve the political ground that we need and the social ground that we need. I don’t really believe in burning bridges and I think that even if I didn’t do the best job representing lesbians as maybe others feel that I could have, I did the best job that I could. And I hope that people are accepting of me and the way that I acted, and that we can work together to use this, perhaps, as a stepping stone for positive influence and positivity in general.

AE: Do you feel that anyone in particular has criticized you?
No, I actually haven’t felt any criticism. But I’m sure that it’s out there, you know, when I look at your website, some people like me and some people don’t. I see that most people like me, which is nice. Obviously there are people that don’t of course there are so I guess I want to speak to those people, and hopefully we can all find a way to work toward the common goal.

AE: Oh, I have one more question for you; I’m sorry, I lied. I kept noticing that every time they filmed you guys in the house or in the hotel, it seemed like you always had your beds together. What was that about?
That happened all over the house, actually, not just in the beds I was sleeping in. I think I am someone that really has very close friendships with people. I form very close relationships so, I don’t know, I think that it was really lonely there. Sometimes it’s just nice to be in the same bed with someone. [Laughs.] It’s not like I was trying to push my bed everywhere with people. I guess with Lisa it happened too, that’s very strange.

AE: Yeah, in the last episode it also happened with Nik and Bre.
Their beds were pushed together we’re not just talking about me here, we’re talking about everybody?

AE: Yeah, everybody.
Yeah, everyone gets really lonely, and everyone craves personal closeness, and people just push their beds together. It’s just one way of materializing it, I guess. [Laughs.]

To learn more about Cycle 5’s Kim Stolz, visit her bio page here.

Source: The CW

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