When this season’s ‘America’s Next Top Model’ on the CW Network premieres Aug. 2, look carefully Connecticut. You may see a face you recognize, and we don’t mean host Tyra Banks. Wallingford’s Ashley Rossi is one of the contenders in the first-ever “Guys and Girls” edition featuring eight men and eight women vying for the prestigious title and prizes including a $100,000 national ad campaign with GUESS. Rossi, who graduated in 2008 from North Branford High School, began taking modeling classes when she was 16. Since then the 23-year-old has hit the runway modeling at the Sachika Runway Show and Mohegan Sun Fashion Show. She is cool, calm and collected these days despite the fact that the taping of the show is complete and she knows who won. But she and the others are mum on the outcome until the fall finale. In the meantime, she is resting up from the reality tv adventure and made some time to Spill the Beans with Java.
A: The show had auditions in New York City and since that is where I usually am, I tried out. It’s actually the third time I have auditioned for the show. The first time they wouldn’t even look at me and then the second year it was for college students and I wasn’t in college and didn’t want to enroll in classes so I just figured maybe next time. Then last April I tried out again and was chosen. The lesson learned is in modeling you just don’t give up. You are going to get rejected. You don’t take “no” to heart.
Q: When are you done taping the show?
A: We already are and that’s the hard part. We finished taping out in California weeks ago.
Q: So you know if you won or not?
A: Yes, and it’s awful not being able to say anything to anyone. Not even my mom and dad. You can’t disclose anything during the eight weeks the show is on. My mom and dad, they are my best friends and I wish I could tell them.
A: It’s about more than just being a pretty face. You can’t survive by just looking good. When I auditioned, part of the conversation was about what makes me interesting and I talked about the good relationship I have with my dad. My parents are divorced and I live with him. He was the one who encouraged me to pursue modeling. My mom was kind of skeptical.
Q: There is so much controversy about female models and what they do to stay bone skinny. Want to weigh in?
A: I am a vegetarian and have been working out at a gym since 16. But we are Italian so you can imagine how we eat. I am on the slim side but am very healthy. I have been in the industry for five or six years now and I think there are some things changing. There are a lot more rules now about how we have to have breaks, the right meals. I have a younger sister and I hope I am representing a new generation of models. I want to be someone she can look up to.
Q: What models are you role models, no pun intended?
A: I like Georgia May Jagger, Mick Jagger’s daughter. She is known for her tooth gap and I like the fact she didn’t try to hide it or fix it. She is who she is. I look up to people who may have something different about themselves but they don’t change it.
Q: I know you already know this, but what if you don’t win the big prize on the show?
A: If I don’t win, I am still going to go forward, go to agencies, auditions, casting calls. Even if I don’t win, the show was good exposure.
Q: Was being on the show what you expected?
A: It was totally different than watching it. You put in long, intense hours, very intense hours. It was hard work. I knew it would not be just glamour but it was not like watching it while lying on the couch at home.
Q: What is your best Connecticut memory?
A: Having fun with my family on day trips around the state, like Lake Compounce and the brownstone quarry in Portland. That place was so much fun. I wish we had discovered it long ago.
Q: If you had one wish, what would it be?
A: That the show was done airing so I could talk about it!