Sarah Banks Hartshorn became the latest girl eliminated from the ninth cycle of America’s Next Top Model. Coming into the competition, she was featured as the wannabe who was a just a little smaller than the plus-sized ideal. In the end,this in-between size and a much-discussed weight loss was her downfall. Sarah dishes about the controversial decision.
How did you come to the show?
S: I became a contestant at a friend’s urging. I went to stand in line with her and tried out spur of the moment. I had another friend who was always trying to get me to try out and he was apoplectic with rage that I went at another friend’s urging. He was like, "I told you so."
Were you a fan of the show before? What work were you doing before?
S: I was an erratic viewer. It was sort of an addiction I would break and come back to. I watched cycle Caridee won. I watched Cycle 8 religiously. I was always aware of it and knew who was who. Before that I was a student at Boston University and was a double major. Before, I also worked on a blueberry farm, in an office, as a dancer, just doing the college student thing. I was a dancer with a troupe. My [high school] graduating class had 13 kids. Farming is the thing to do. I can fix a sorting machine like nobody’s business. It sorts the blueberries. It’s a life-handy skill. It’ll come in handy in Hollywood.
What did you think about the plus-sized issue? Did it make it more challenging?
S: I guess since I had never done any modeling, I didn’t come into it with any preconceptions. Instead, I took it as I am who I am and I’m not going to change myself to fit into this label of what they wanted to put me into … I knew how to take a picture and be myself and work the body I was given. I thought about it only if brought to my attention by the judges or the producers. When I’m on my own and am able to reflect on it, I like the way I look. I want to model and I want to act. At the end of the day I know how I look and I like it.
How much weight did you lose on the show?
S: I lost a whopping 3 1/2 pounds. The decision to do it was based on absolutely nothing. It wasn’t a decision at all. I was surprised they actually noticed. It was so minimal, I didn’t believe it. I was thinking of how I dressed and held myself. And I did have this hair that affected the way I moved. On a 5’10" frame, 3 1/2 pounds doesn’t go very far.
How could the judges see that?
S: I have no idea. They are so very observant. I guess they’re good at spotting that type of thing. They’be been in the business for so long. They know what to look out for.
Was it all the judges or just Nigel?
S: It was all the judges. I think Nigel just talked more about it and that’s what ended up making it on the air.
Could a plus-sized model ever win ANTM?
S: I think the thing about a plus-sized winner of America’s Next Top Model — it’s a complicated issue and it’s tied into the industry. In Spain now they require [models] have a certain BMI (Body Mass Index) to walk the runway … When Twiggy came onto the scene, it was revolutionary that a model was that thin. And even when Kate Moss came out, that heroin chic look … As fashion changes and goes more towards real-sized girls, it’ll be come more of a possibility to have a plus-sized winner.
Were you aware of plus-sized label going in?
S: They were pretty honest from the start. I wish I had kept any minimal insecurities to myself. I didn’t know it would come up. I didn’t know that would show. I am very comfortable with myself, but when I was called back, they said, "How do you feel about being the plus-sized girl?" I said, "I feel great about that. I want to represent anyone who sees something of themselves in me." I am glad I was in the competition 100 percent. I would do it again.
What was the video like to shoot?
S: The Enrique Iglesias shoot was amazing. It was so fun. I never knew what went into making a music video. You just see it there small on your screen. It’s so much more complicated. It’s such a production with the director, choreographers, dancers. It takes so long. I got to dress up in this mesh, dominatrix, vampire outfit and dance with Enrique Iglesias. If anybody ever gets the chance, you should take it.
Weren’t you uncomfortable in that mesh outfit at the shoot?
S: I’m glad you asked. When Nigel said I pulled a face, a lot of that was just seeing myself in a music video. It wasn’t discomfort, just surprise. I was comfortable with my body in the outfit. It was a fun sort of role to get into even if it was in the background. I regret my shock at seeing myself on screen came across at the judging [as discomfort]. If anything, I was focused on my body — how to move and not be hoochie. I was trying to keep that in mind, and it came across as insecure, but I was just concentrating.
But on the show though, you mentioned you were uncomfortable in the outfit?
S: I think that clip, I was really surprised when I saw that. Taken out of context it looks that way. I went on to talk about all the girls and how they were dressed that way and in general the costuming. It sounded like I was upset by it, but I wasn’t. I was surprised and sort of interested by [the outfit]. I embraced it, man. I thought it was great.
Memorable moments on the show?
S: There were probably two: one good and one bad. It was really memorable seeing Heather get really sick so fast. I remember my heart stoppping. I really love her. She’s the greatest girl. She was so sick, she was just green. That was definitely memorable. On a more positive note, just walking into the house. It was so foreign from everything I had ever seen. It was so exciting.
Did you or the other girls agree with Bianca that Heather didn’t even have to try with her photos?
S: The thing with Bianca is that she just says exactly what’s on her mind. She and Heather got along for most of the time. You live with 12 other girls, you have moments that maybe you don’t get along. We all loved Heather, and Bianca did too. It’s not like they disliked each other. I thought Heather was really, really talented. I think [sometimes] it’s hard to see someone do something naturally that you’re working really hard for.
S: I don’t know what’s next. I want to act, I want to model. I’m glad I had this opportunity. I have a certain pre-disposition to it. I still harbor the dream of acting, definitely. I dont know what’s next, but it’ll be great.
How can fans contact you? Do you have a Myspace page?
S: I don’t currently, but I will. I never had Myspace before. It was always intimidating to me. All I knew was Tila Tequila. Oh, and Facebook too. I can get on that.
Was Sarah’s elimination fair? What do you think about her size?