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Published:May 17th, 2011 23:08 EST

America's Next Top Model Hannah Jones: They Didn't Realize My Passion

By Paulette Cohn

Hannah Jones made it all the way to the final three on the 16th cycle of America`s Next Top Model before the judges gave her a ticket home from Morocco. The 20-year-old from Houston, TX got the boot last week because the judges felt she was a little too emotional.


Even so, she impressed both modeling mentor Jay Manuel and photog/judge Nigel Barker, who complimented her on working well with the male model in creating a romantic scenario. Still, it wasn`t enough to beat out top contenders Brittani and Molly, who tonight will compete for the title of America`s Next Top Model.


Even as the judges criticized her last week, Hannah stood her ground. Now she talks about how proud she is of how she handled herself in the competition, how she feels she was eliminated because she was misunderstand and what lies ahead.

Watching last week`s episode, you were so close, but still so far away. How did you feel about your Top Model journey?

Hannah Jones: I am super proud of myself and I learned a lot. I think that my Top Model journey is a once in a lifetime experience that I will look back on forever. I can`t wait to tell my grandchildren about it. It is something that I will always have. It was the perfect intro to my modeling career, to my entertainment career. Before Top Model, I had only done test shoots, I had never done any runway work, and I had never had an agent, so getting to the top three was a huge accomplishment for me.

I am really proud of myself for my last photo, because I went out with a bang. I made it hard for the judges to decide. They really did have to find the smallest thing to criticize in order to find a reason to send me home. I much rather would have them have to look to find something wrong than to see something obviously wrong.

I have like an amazing portfolio now. I am super stoked because now I get to go and work. I get to actually go and do this for "real-zies." America`s Next Top Model is definitely real and it is hardcore because there were a lot of high-pressure situations that prepared me for this industry. I know there is still a lot of rejection, but the more doors I knock on, the more opportunities I will have to get a campaign or to book a gig. I want to go out there and work. I love it all, so I am just pumped.

I couldn`t be happier with how the show turned out. I think that I did what I could do, I didn`t give up, and I pushed through. I stayed true to myself, which was the most important thing. I didn`t want to turn into a catty or backstabbing person to get at someone else. I stayed focused. I look at the show and I see it as my first accomplishment in my career as a model.

That is a really long answer. Within it, you said you learned a lot. What did you learn about yourself? You seemed to grow from the beginning to the end.

Hannah Jones: It is really weird. Watching the show, I see a totally different person. When I see the person on the show cry because she thinks she is unmemorable, I want to shake her and say, "No. You are awesome. Just keep going." Now, I understand myself way better. I am a stronger person. I`ve started to learn how to do a runway walk. I actually have a walk now that I didn`t have before. I have learned certain of the techniques in front of the camera.  I learned what my strengths are and who I am, how I am different from other people, what I bring to the table and what I can capitalize on when I go out into the modeling world.

It seemed that the reason for eliminating you that the judges settled on was that you didn`t seem strong enough to them. But you disagreed with them. Why do you think they felt that way?

Hannah Jones: I think maybe I did a bad job of communicating with them what I felt my strengths were. I think maybe they had misinterpreted what I had said. When I said my strength was my vulnerability, I meant that I am capable of being malleable to any kind of situation and to the shoot, whatever concept they want. When they wanted a romance, or a lack of a romance or some sort of struggle, I created a whole story and they felt it. They said, "Maybe sometimes you are feeling it a little too much." "That`s OK. Just tell me to bring it down a notch and I will." I think it is better for me to be too much and them to pull me back then to be barely anything and them try to pull something out of me.

I feel like they didn`t realize my passion was different than how I will present myself. They were in charge of whether I stayed or not. They weren`t the ones who were going to give me a job. I wouldn`t go into a client and be like, "I am so passionate about modeling and " I am going to cry about it." I would say, "Your clothes are so cool. If you put them on me, I will look good in them and other people will really want to buy them." I felt that they didn`t understand that by being honest and not putting on this tough fa├žade is a good thing.

There was a lot of fighting this season. What was it really like in the house with all the girls?

Hannah Jones: We really didn`t want there to be drama in the house. We tried not to step on each other`s toes, but it happened. It was sometimes really annoying because there is someone in the bathtub, there was someone in the shower, or there was not enough room in the fridge for your food " just different stuff where you have to share the space. It is just like having a roommate. Even your best friend you are going to get annoyed with sometimes. Because of the pressure of the competition, I think that is where a lot of the drama of the competition came from. Just the turmoil of it all. At some point, we were all in it together, like there was this camaraderie and it was cool. Even though we wanted someone to go home other than our self, we wanted to all progress together. I think it was cool that we all wanted it for each other and we wished each other would do well and the competition would be a stiff one.

What was your favorite photo shoot and why?

Hannah Jones: I can`t really pick one. I really liked the jaguar shoot and the landfill shoot. They both inspired me so deeply. I love animals and working with a little wild animal " there was this energy about it. It was so awesome and real. I felt a connection with it. You can see it in my picture. I was truly in the moment. With the landfill shoot, the environment was just so disgusting and crazy. It is something you don`t see every day. Contrasting with the disgusting environment were these beautiful eco-couture gowns that Michael Cinco made specifically for us. That is such an honor. I stood up on this platform and I felt larger than life. I felt like an ethereal goddess who was sent here to change people and make a difference. That is really what I want to do in life: inspire people. I really like the shoots where the concept truly inspires me.

Molly or Brittani?

Hannah Jones: I would say Brittani. I got along with her best in the house. She was closest with me. I would like for her to win because I know she is so passionate about it and she comes from a place where people don`t think they can get out of. Everybody in Philadelphia is rooting for her because she is inspiring them all. Brittani is super cool and I think she is the entire package of what America`s Next Top Model stands for. She has a great walk and piercing eyes. She has a great story. She has risen to the challenge and beaten all these odds.

What`s next for you?

Hannah Jones: I am going to go out there. I don`t have an agent yet. First, I hope IMG calls me. If they don`t call me, I am going to find an agency that really believes in me.

New York or L.A.?

Hannah Jones: I don`t know. I really love New York. It is more high fashion, but L.A. has more commercial and film work. I have acting experience, so I could definitely be a double threat in L.A. I am not sure yet what opportunities are open to me. Wherever my path takes me, I feel like I have options. I definitely want to do what is best for my career. I definitely want to go to Asia, because I would market really well there as far as high fashion. They like the blond, blue-eyed look. That is me. I would be considered exotic, which would be super cool to me. Here, I am the girl-next-door. I think it would be really cool to be a Victoria`s Secret Angel, but that is really high goal. I am going to shoot for that and wherever I land will be a good place.

The America`s Next Top Model cycle 16 finale airs tonight at 8 p.m. on The CW.