America's Next Top Model eliminee redefines beauty: 'You can be fierce at any age!'
Warning! This article contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of America’s Next Top Model. Read at your own risk!
The oldest-ever America’s Next Top Model hopeful is history (at least when it comes to the competition). Though she proudly strutted onto the ANTM runway as the fiercest 42-year-old on reality TV, Erin Green met her match during Tuesday night’s go-see challenge in the form of a salty, fun-sucking fashion designer, and later during an overwhelming photo shoot that pushed her modeling talents to the limit.
Shortly after her elimination, Green caught up with EW to talk about her time on the show, playing mama to a group of millennial girls (and their “ruthless” drama) in the Top Model mansion, breaking down barriers for women of age in the fashion industry, and whether she knows how to take a damn selfie after crashing and burning during that pesky social media challenge earlier this cycle. Read the full interview below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m so sorry to see you go! But, I crept your Instagram to see how you were doing, and your new, short hairdo looks fabulous.
ERIN GREEN: Thank you! I was hoping that when I got on the show that my Ty-over would be something trendy and edgy because I’m a woman of age. But then I thought, “Wow, we’re going with a boring weave!” [Laugh] So I did it myself!
Yes! And it’s clear that your social media game has improved since that selfie challenge a few weeks ago. Miss Erin, I have to be real: why the hell was it so difficult for you to take a damn selfie on that episode?
[Laughs] I didn’t see it being a challenge for me! I was really pissed because Khrystyana had got in my way. It was two people sharing the phone; so it was like, please back up! My selfie game is not up like all the younger millennial girls. I have more work to do!
It is a bit of a different world, I imagine, stepping into a house full of women who are half your age and maybe more experienced in things like that. Was that maturity dynamic difficult to deal with at times, especially with all the drama from Christina, Brendi K., Rio, and Sandra?
The emotional intelligence of these girls was a little bit below mine. Because of my maturity and the fact that I’ve been through some adversity and life challenges, I was able to manage some of the relationships…. The girls had some growing up to do. [For me], it was more about how I dealt with the cattiness and drama to be able to pick my own battles.
Did the mama in you ever come out? We didn’t’ really see you engaged in the drama too much, but I imagine you were off camera rolling your eyes at these girls waiting to tell them they were grounded or something.
There were times where I actually got involved; you just didn’t see that on camera! I thought I was helpful toward the girls in terms of their emotional stability, but in other situations I sat back and let them deal with what they had to go through…. these girls had to go through experiences to learn something from it. It was a matter of sitting back and watching it play out, laughing, and snickering like, wow, I remember me going through all of that, but I’m way above all of that now. It was funny experiencing the drama between one another. It was ruthless!
It’s funny to hear you talk about staying out of it at the house in that sense, but those designers at the go-sees this episode were acting like you were a total disruption to their flow. You were just being cute and friendly but they thought you were extra! So what’s the lesson there? Don’t ever call yourself “cute” during a go-see or else the scary fashion lady will tell you off?
[The judges] were telling me that they wanted to see more personality, so I felt like, okay, maybe the personality hasn’t been shown yet, so let me go ahead and turn that up for them! When I go on a go-see, audition, or casting, I want the designer to feel like they have someone who knows their product and their garment. I want to not only look good in it, but sell it. I wanted them to know that. So I was turning up my personality and for them they’re just like oh, it’s too much. But it’s never too much! You want to give them your all because you only get one lasting impression, so I guess my personality was just too big for them…. I’m not sure what was the big hang-up or why they were giving me dirty looks…. They were just being real salty!
I felt like maybe some of the judges were, too, when it came to your age. I know it was a monumental thing to have a 42-year-old on the show, but they took every opportunity to call out your age. I think they even told you that you modeled like a supermodel from 1996 at one point. Did you see the obsession with your age coming from the beginning?
Being the first model of age on the show, I thought that would be my narrative, that they’d drum up all the information [or call me] a church model. I saw it coming. At the end of the day, though, they chose me…. the picture I initially sent to them to prove that I was next-level fierce really got their attention. Once you’ve got their attention, anything is possible.
You and Tyra are around the same age, and Tyra broke a lot of barriers for black models in the early ‘90s. Being a young model in the ‘90s, did you notice a shift in the way Tyra’s impact changed the industry back then?
I saw a huge shift in society being able to accept black models. At the time, I was getting the most work because of that! It kind of just died down. It’s difficult [now because] I’m coming across producers and designers who say I don’t have the right look or that I’m just too old, but I’m like, you haven’t even seen me walk or my shoots! Please look at my work! With this show, I think Tyra did a huge service to women…. being able to change the definition of beauty is something she did so well…. When Tyra lifted up the age limit, she brought it front and center and opened up everyone’s eyes that you can be fierce at any age…. If you have a dream, don’t give up. Keep going after it. That’s what I’ve been doing all along…. Now, I had the chance to be on America’s Next Top Model to prove to everyone that at this age, you can still be fierce, you can still grace the cover of any magazine, and you can strut any runway as long as you’re confident and you believe in yourself.
So you haven’t noticed much of a shift in the fashion world, then? Do you think the fashion industry ANTM represents is maybe an idealized or heightened version of the real industry, that there’s a disconnect?
The show is a great platform to break barriers, but it’s going to be a slow process as far as changing or pushing that conversation that beauty is more than appearance and size. The more that Tyra continues to break down these barriers and change the game, everyone will start to accept it — especially in the modeling industry. We’re probably going to see more models of age out there doing their thing. I hope so, because you have to think about who’s buying. Who is our consumer? It’s not necessarily millennials or the younger generation all the time; it’s the older generation that’s buying, too! This is what our society is made up of. I want to see more people of age out there and more full-figured models. The average size is not ultra-thin. It’s not a size zero, so why are we portraying that on the runway? We need to push this conversation about what beauty is. It’s not about appearance and it’s not about size: it starts from within and it exudes out!