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Q & A with Isis King
Isis King, the first transgender contestant on the hit show “America’s Next Top Model,” spoke about her real-life experiences and answered questions from the audience on Saturday night. After her speech, the Chronicle sat down and chatted with her outside of Buckman Theater.
QU Chronicle: What was your favorite part of competing on “America’s Next Top Model?”
Isis King: My favorite part was meeting all the girls and just being in a different environment that I have ever previously been in and different scenarios that I don’t think people ever experience in their life which is pretty cool. I thought it was really awesome, and I got to travel, I went to Greece. My first time on “Top Model,” it was my first time getting on an airplane, first time going to LA, so that whole thing was really cool.
QUC: Is there anything you think you would have done differently on the show?
IK: No, especially the second time around, only because the outcome wasn’t from my lack of anything. I definitely don’t think that if anyone that watched my episode, there wasn’t enough negative footage to go with what was said from them. And I don’t think there was any real explanation for sending me home.
QUC: Which season did you prefer, the “ANTM All Stars” or the normal cycle.
IK: I like “All Stars” better, you know the girls from watching them. And also for me personally, I have evolved a lot more and I was more comfortable with myself, and I think just being more comfortable and confident, it allowed me to really let loose and be free while being filmed.
QUC: What’s your main career focus right now?
IK: I’m focusing more on acting right now, with modeling I’m doing more hosting and special guests, which sometimes they do want more of the All Stars, but as far as castings, I’m actually going to one on Tuesday, but I don’t necessarily do that much unless it’s for acting.
QUC: With your film “Hello Forever” coming out in June, do you feel that opened a door for you into acting?
IK: Definitely, I really pushed myself. It’s definitely a dark film. I definitely tap into many emotions that I knew I had but I never had around other people. I definitely learned I’m a method actress and I think that people will be really surprised when they see this film and when they see my acting.
QUC:Is there any experience where you said to yourself, “Oh my gosh, this is actually happening?”
IK: Yeah, everything. Just me looking in the mirror and seeing who I am like ‘Wow,’ I think that’s the biggest thing. Like ‘Wow, you were strong enough, you were brave enough.’
QUC: Is there anything about the show that you were surprised about?
IK: I didn’t know that when the cameras were off, like when you’re traveling, or if you’re about to go to sleep you take your microphone off and you can’t talk at all. They call it “ice,” if you’re traveling, and the crew is filming, you can’t talk to each other or anything, and we’re grown women. I would always get in trouble for that because I have a problem keeping my mouth shut.
QUC: So what’s your everyday life like right now?
IK: A little bit of everything. Trying to find castings, networking, going to appearances, visiting family and loved ones, trying to live my life, trying to figure out what direction everything is going in, having fun, hanging out with friends.
QUC: Do you ever find yourself not feeling as confident in a social setting remembering that, yes, you’re this whole new person, but that you have been different at one point?
IK: Sometimes I go in my shell, or my bubble when I just need alone time, so sometimes when you’re out, people see celebrity and I’m not one of those people that thrives off of that attention, I’m just a regular person, so sometimes I just want to be like in my bubble, I think that’s really the only time. And it’s not necessarily a lack of confidence, it’s more that I need my own space.
QUC: Do you have any advice for teens or young people going through the gender transition process or thinking about it?
IK: Just people that feel like they’re different in general, because I feel like so many people can relate whether if you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, whether you have a disability, or you’ve been bullied, anything, just hang in there, know what you want to do, know who you want to be, know where you want to go in life, but stick it out. It’s going to be a tough ride but if you stick it out, it’s going to be amazing on the other side.
QUC: How to do you feel about the title of “LGBT,” do you feel that it is a stigma?
IK: Honestly, I feel like the “T” doesn’t have anything to do with your sexuality at all. If anything, there’s segregation, I understand it, but it doesn’t belong together because it doesn’t have anything to do with who you’re attracted to, but for the sake of helping people it’s OK for me. My mission isn’t to segregate or to help certain people, I want to help everybody and whoever is willing to listen to my story or use my story to help theirs because it doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but it’s just being different and most people I would say have felt different at one point or another. It’s just taking that difference and allowing that to not hold you back and get you to where you want to go.
QUC: How old were you when you realized that fully?
IK: I think when I made the decision to go on “Top Model” and decided to share my story. Just the whole word knowing my story, I think that when I said, “OK, I’ll do it.” That changed my life. Not going on “Top Model” specifically, but following my dreams publicly.
QUC: Who would you say is your inspiration?
IK: My mom. I would always say my mom. I see her as a strong individual and she was the one who drove me to be a better person and to want to conquer as many things as I can, and she had me young and she gave up many things for me. Wanting to help her has definitely been a drive for me. I’ve helped her, but nowhere near what she would have done for me. The more I accomplish, the more she will reap the benefits.
QUC: You said in your presentation that you went to school for fashion design and you’re currently designing. What’s your status with that now?
IK: At appearances I wear my designs and maybe auction them off after I wear them, just to start off, and I hope to eventually put a line out there.