So You Want to Be on Top? An Interview with Two Former ANTM Contestants

By: Casey Tsamis

Do you think you have what it takes to go into the modeling industry? Did you love the last season of America’s Next Top Model? Past contestants Dustin McNeer and Hadassah Richardson explain the life of a top model and their experiences.


Photography by Blake Ballard
Dustin McNeer, ANTM Cycle 22, 18, Kernersville, North Carolina

Question (Q): Was America’s Next Top Model anything like you expected?

Dustin McNeer (DM): America’s Next Top Model was definitely what I expected it to be but at the same time [it] had plenty of surprising differences. Almost everyday we had plenty of new adventures such as meeting celebrities, going on random trips to studios and getting to see Tyra up close and actually get to know her. But I did at least know I was getting into a world of drama when I finally made it into the house!

Q: Have you learned anything from the competition?

DM: I learned plenty from the show, not only about how to be a better model, but also a good amount about the industry and how it works. I’m grateful to have had these lessons taught to me even if it was by Yu Tsai yelling at me.

Q: What was it like living in one house with so many people?

DM: Living in a house with that many people definitely had its benefits because you were never lonely but privacy was also a large issue. You would almost never be able to shower without someone walking in through the thin curtain that separated the bathrooms from the rest of the house. But it was nice being able to wake up and go workout with my bros, Nyle and Justin, every other morning!

Q: What is your daily routine like as a working model?

DM: Everyday usually I wake up and try to eat a healthy breakfast, then I hop on social media to catch up with my fans through Instagram and Twitter. Then depending on the day I’ll either go do a photo shoot or hit the gym to stay in shape. After I head home and eat a lot because I absolutely love food. Then I’ll check in again with my lovely fans and I’ll plan something new for tomorrow, whether it be going out on the lake, a photo shoot or hitting the gym.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the modeling industry?

DM: Be very careful in how you get started. Take things slow until you find out more about the industry and how things work. It’s pretty tricky because there is a lot of shade in this business but I always do my best to make friends and connections with new people. Strive for your dreams, don’t ever give up and be open to new things!


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Photography by Allen Lee Grigsby
Hadassah Richardson, Cycle 22, 23, Houston, Texas

Q: As someone with pageant experience, was America’s Next Top Model anything like you expected?

Hadassah Richardson (HR): Coming out of pageantry I definitely felt that would give me an edge over the competition because of my competitiveness and confidence.

Q: How difficult was it living with so many people in one house?

HR: Living with 14 people and sharing my space and things, including my bed and even the shower everyday was one of the most difficult things to get used to!

Q: What is your daily routine as a working model?

HR: My daily routine consists of going to the gym each day, staying fit and healthy, castings, fittings, meetings and spending time with my family.

Q: Where are your favorite places to shop for clothes?

HR: I shop everywhere but the majority of my clothes on the show were from Marciano by Paul Marciano or Guess!

Q: Are there any beauty tips that you live by?

HR: My beauty tips are simple. Sleep is essential, less drinking, no smoking, exercise, and don’t feel the need to wear make up each day, sometimes let your skin breathe.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the modeling industry?

HR: The only advice I would give to someone who wants to be in that industry is do not give up because you never know when you’ll get your shot, and also develop thick skin, because the criticism is harsh and you cannot let that defeat you!

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