Michelle Babin Interview with AfterEllen.com (Nov 06)
February 1, 2013
AfterEllen.com conducted an interview with Cycle 7‘s Michelle Babin following her appearance and elimination from the show. Here is the text from the interview (written and posted by Malinda Lo, Senior Writer):
This season, America’s Next Top Model broke its one-out-lesbian-per-cycle rule when both Megan Morris and Michelle Babin came out on the air. Though Megan was eliminated early on this season, 19-year-old Michelle made it into the final five, along with Melrose, CariDee, Eugena, and her twin sister, Amanda. After a disastrous panel session in which Michelle told the judges she had the least potential in modeling, the tall, gangly tomboy was sent home to Anaheim. She is currently finishing out the year at Cypress College, where she plays small forward or guard on their women’s basketball team. “It’s nothing big, but it’s fun,” she says. “We’re doing pretty good.”
We talked with Michelle shortly after her elimination, and she told us that she hadn’t actually come out on camera by the time Megan left, even though Megan revealed that Michelle was gay when she talked with us at the end of September — several episodes before Michelle came out on the air. But Michelle’s not concerned about letting everyone know about her sexual orientation. “I knew it was going to come out eventually anyway,” she says. “It didn’t really matter to me when.”
AfterEllen.com: Just before you were eliminated, Tyra suggested that you might be sacrificing yourself by saying you have the least potential to become the next top model, because you knew that your twin sister wanted it more. Do you think Tyra got it right?
Michelle Babin: I think maybe partially. I definitely didn’t go in there thinking I was going to sacrifice myself — like [I didn’t] go into panel thinking “Oh, I’m gonna take a dive for my sister today” — but maybe subconsciously I did a little bit, because of the fact that I knew she didn’t have a very good photo shoot, and I knew she was concerned about going. … So I might have subconsciously done it, but … it was never my intention like that. They asked me a question, and I answered it honestly.
AE: You did seem to give one of the more honest answers in that panel.
MB: Yeah, panel always got me. Those panel challenges — I never did good in [them].
AE: Did you have one that you felt you did well in at all? In any of the panel challenges?
MB: Um … no.
AE: Which one did you hate the most?
MB: I didn’t like swimming frightfully.
AE: That was an interesting one, yes.
MB: That was kind of weird. I didn’t know what to do with that. I kind of wanted some water to swim in.
AE: Well, you and Amanda are obviously very close. Did both of you want to audition for Top Model, or was it more one person’s idea?
MB: Originally she tried out for Cycle 6 by herself because I wasn’t really interested, and I was really focused on basketball. But for Cycle 7, she got a callback … and I had become interested in it and asked her if I could tag along, and they said “yes, of course.” So she wanted it a little more, but I was very interested in it [also].
AE: I talked with Megan Morris earlier this fall after she was eliminated, and she told me that you came out on camera before she was eliminated, which was really surprising because obviously nothing had been shown at that time. [Megan said, “Michelle also said that she was gay on the show.”] But the show did not explore that until several episodes later. Can you tell me what happened?
MB: I didn’t come out on camera. I had talked to [Megan] about it off-camera, actually, and I told her there was a possibility that I was kind of debating whether I was bi or not. Like one time we were in casting weekend, and a lot of the girls were talking about the subject, and they were like, “Oh, what do you think of me? What do you think of me?”
And then [Megan] went down the list and was like, “You could be bi, you could be bi.” And then when she got to me she was like, “Oh, I get the gay vibe from you.” Like she just straight-out said she thought I was gay. So then later on, I was like, “Yeah, I might be bi, but I’m not quite sure.” But that didn’t happen on-camera actually, but we had talked about it.
AE: Did you feel OK about her basically stating that before you came out on the show?
MB: I wasn’t expecting it, but … I didn’t really care. It wasn’t a bad thing, because I knew it was going to come out eventually anyway. It didn’t really matter to me when.
AE: How did it feel to deal with that stuff with cameras everywhere?
MB: It was kind of awkward, but by that time I had kind of gotten a little bit used to the cameras. I didn’t mind the world knowing. I mean, they asked me the question in an interview with the directors, and I just answered it honestly. … I was OK with it.
AE: You said the directors asked you in an interview. Was this before you were on the show?
MB: No, no, no — while I was on [the show]. Every week we did interviews with the directors, just to get footage and stuff. So they were talking about Megan, and then the question of my sexuality came up, and they asked me, “Oh, well, so what are you?” And I was like “Um, I don’t know.” And that’s how it [happened]. They edited it so that it seemed like I told Jaeda, but that’s not exactly how it happened.
AE: So how did it happen?
MB: I was walking out of the interview and going upstairs, and my sister was like, “So what did you talk about?” And I was like, “Oh, basically I just announced I was gay on TV.” And she was like, “What?” And so … then I just ended up telling everybody else, ’cause it was the gossip of the house, I guess.
AE: Did you suspect … before Top Model that you might not be straight?
MB: Yeah, I had actually been contemplating it for awhile. I just didn’t know how to tell people ’cause everybody just presumed I was straight, and then all of the sudden I’m like, “Oh well, I’m kinda — I don’t know.” So, yeah, I had definitely been pondering it for awhile, and somebody just asked me, and I answered honestly.
AE: Obviously, it’s kind of a confusing time to go through. How do you identify right now?
MB: Either as not straight or bi, because I do think I find women attractive. … I’m just really shy when it comes to relationships, so I kind of get scared and nervous, so I don’t really get a good chance to explore it.
AE: Your sister seemed to have a bit of difficulty dealing with your coming-out at first, but she seemed to adjust fairly quickly, and your mom seemed very supportive on the phone.
MB: Yeah, my mom was really supportive. I knew she would be OK with it, so that was cool.
AE: How is everything going with you and your family now?
MB: Everything’s fine. It’s not even a big deal at all. It’s just another thing. And the reason why my sister was so upset about it at first was ’cause she thought that I had gotten tricked into saying it on TV. Like she thought one of the directors had tricked me into saying it. But that wasn’t the case. … There really was no trickery involved at all, I just answered [the question]. And actually, I didn’t even have to say it. They were like, “You don’t have to answer,” and I was like, “No, I have no problem.”
AE: Do you feel that you were portrayed accurately for the most part?
MB: Yeah, for the most part I was pretty much portrayed accurately. Of course in editing you see some things that they kind of switch up a little bit, but you’re just like, “Oh well, that’s TV.” Like on our go sees, we actually didn’t only see two go sees, we saw like six. But that’s just editing — it’s expected. Anything that did get changed up a little bit, I was like, “Oh well, TV.” It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be.
AE: [Laughs.] Well, that’s a good attitude. Is there anything you would have done differently?
MB: I don’t regret anything, but maybe that last panel I kind of shot myself in the foot. I wouldn’t have changed my answer, but I would have made it shorter and sweeter, so that it didn’t have such a big impact.
AE: Let’s talk a bit about the remaining contestants. Can you tell me your opinion of — well, let’s just go through them all. What do you think of Eugena?
MB: Eugena’s a really cool person. We definitely have different personalities, but it’s OK ’cause she’s the kind of person you can get in a debate with and have completely different opinions, and then at the end of the debate you’re fine — which is something I really admire in people. She’s definitely had her own opinions, and she was kind of different — like set in her ways — but she was a really cool person and easy to get along with. She made me laugh.
AE: How about Melrose?
MB: Melrose is an interesting character. A lot of people had problems with Melrose. Actually, me and Melrose were pretty close on the show, but if you would just talk to Melrose one-on-one, she was a totally cool, down-to-earth person, really knowledgeable, easy to talk to. But sometimes when Melrose got in groups … she would kind of act out a little bit, so she would do some things that would make you be like [in an indulgent tone of voice], “Oh, Melrose, what are you doing?” That’s my description of Melrose. She didn’t have two personalities, but there were some times you were just like, “What are you doing?”
AE: And how about CariDee?
MB: CariDee was a really cool person. I liked her a lot. You could tell she wanted this, and she was trying so hard. And she just had a really fun, outgoing personality, like the person who would be down for anything and is hilarious and had no problem with being crazy to make others laugh. That was cool; I liked her.
AE: And last but not least: Amanda.
MB: She’s my sister; I’ve known her all my life. I love her; she’s my sister. I don’t even know how to describe her anymore.
AE: Who would you choose as the winner?
MB: Of course I’d pick my sister, but if I had to pick a second, I would pick CariDee.
MB: Just ’cause I know that she wants it really bad, and she is a really good person. So, I was hoping if it wasn’t my sister, I’d hope it would be her.
AE: I almost forgot to ask you: How did you like being dressed as Ellen and Portia?
MB: That was cool — I loved being Ellen. I would love to be on the Ellen show; she’s super cool. That was a lot of fun. At first it was kind of funny … the day after I announced that I might be gay they do the couples shoot, and I happened to be the one with the two girls. At first I was like, “Oh, good job, production.” I didn’t really care, but I thought it was funny. But it ended up being really cool because Ellen rocks, so it was fine.
AE: Then they made your sister model that romance novel cover with the woman who falls for another woman, right?
MB: That was even funnier to me than anything. It was like, OK, mine was understandable, funny, ha ha. This, really now? Come on!