“I don’t want to focus too much on the show,” begins the young model/ actress, just minutes after slipping her slight 5′ 8″ frame into a booth and ordering a caipirinha, a drink she fell in love with when she studied abroad in Brazil. “I’m grateful for it,” she continues carefully, “but it’s just that it happened over a year ago and there’s other stuff going on.”
The show that Yaya (which means “wise old spirit” in the Yoruba language) is referring to is, of course, America’s Next Top Model, the UPN “dramality” series in which she costarred last year. In the flesh, Yaya’s a long catwalk away from the arrogant Afrocentric diva who was portrayed on Top Model. Like most ex-reality stars, Yaya contends that her comments were routinely edited to make her fit a certain persona, but she doesn’t make excuses for anything she said.
“I had been winning the challenges, and there was one episode when the girls kept saying, ‘Oh, Yaya’s gonna win this one!’ and I said [dismissively], ‘Someone else can win.’ I remember cringing when I saw myself say that,” she says. “But am I arrogant? No. Am I conscious of the gifts that God and my parents have given me? Yes. Did I try and throw it in people’s faces? No. Did it come off that way? Yes.”
Dressed casually in jeans, a fitted white tank, and dangling beaded earrings (which she made herself), Yaya could pass for Iman’s younger sister. Her natural hair is in a bun, her wide, almond-shaped eyes sparkle, and her dewy peanut butter-hued skin glistens (rather than sweats) in the smoldering humidity. Despite her unbalanced portrayal, the Harlem native became a favorite among many die-hard Top Model viewers, thanks to her Brown University roomies who encouraged her to audition for the show, which she did—in secret.
And although it was feisty Los Angeles college student Eva Pigford who walked away with the $100,000 Cover Girl contract and management deal with Ford Models, Yaya, to no one’s surprise, outlasted 12 other hopefuls. In fact, the Uptown girl was more than second best—she was poised (she won five consecutive challenges), cultured (she speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and French), and constantly showered with praise by the show’s panel of judges.
Courtesy: Jewel Magazine Online
[tags]Yaya, America’s Next Top Model[/tags]