With her down-home charm and downright dazzling photos, Kentuckian Laura Kirkpatrick became a fan favorite during last year's Cycle 13 of The CW reality competition America's Next Top Model.
The Stanford waitress was runner-up when the competition ended in November, but the public voted for her to be the model who won six months rent-free in a New York apartment.
That lease ended this summer, and after a visit home to see family and friends, she's heading to the West Coast. She had some success in New York, including a shoot for shoe designer Steve Madden and walking in the New York Fashion Week runway show for designer Deux FM.
With the 15th season of Top Model about to premiere, the reality-show beauty shared her thoughts about the Big Apple, her grandma missing her badly and her plans to give back through a foundation.
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Question: Tell us about life in the New York fan-favorite apartment.
Answer: I was blessed enough to win fan favorite and got six months of free rent in a very nice New York apartment. It was a studio apartment overlooking Central Park. From my window, I could see the park, the Trump Tower and Columbus Circle.
I was in New York for Fashion Week and sat in the front row for many fashion shows, including Kim Kardashian's. Living in New York was amazing. At night, the whole city lit up and was magical.
Don't get me wrong. I definitely missed home and learned to appreciate Kentucky a lot more. People take for granted how nice people are in Kentucky and how beautiful the land is. Even the world-famous Central Park that people traveled from everywhere to come see can't compare to my old Kentucky home. To me nothing can touch Kentucky, the bright blue sky, lush green grass, beautiful healthy horses running free. Kentucky will always be my home.
Q: What was your best New York experience?
A: It was definitely Fashion Week. It's a whole week of fashion shows morning to night, and you're surrounded with luxury, fancy food, and you got to dress over the top.
My second favorite thing would definitely have to be the food. Once I got used to it, it was out of this world. I had Korean, sushi, Ethiopian, Maryland crab — everything you can think of.
I've also been to some ridiculous over-the-top restaurants that just made me laugh. One time, I ate at this restaurant where everyone acted so snobby you could hear a pin drop. I ordered Dover sole. It was $50. When it came out it had a hair on it. When I tasted it, I was so mad because I could eat at the Kentucky Depot in my home town and it would've tasted better and only cost me $8.
Q: What was the biggest adjustment to big-city life?
A: For me it was the food. I ate farm-raised food just about every day and a big Southern meal three times a day. The freshness of our farm-raised food spoiled me. When I came to New York, I had to buy food that wasn't as fresh for way more money.
Q: What was your favorite celebrity encounter?
A: John Krasinski from The Office. I love The Office, and I was a background girl in a movie he did with Kate Hudson (Something Borrowed, due out next year). I star as "Girl dancing in bar."
Q: Tell me about your favorite photo shoot.
A: My favorite was for Steve Madden because it was for a pretty big company. I did it all — shoes, bags and accessories, and clothing. Plus, everyone was so nice.
Also, I did a shoot with (photographer) Andrew Werner and Rouge Makeup Studio. Andrew put me in clothing made by The Blonds. They are huge designers, and I absolutely love them. I wore the exact same bodysuit as Christina Aguilera did in one of her music videos. The pictures haven't been released; you will have to check my blog, Laurasmodellife.com, to see when the magazine comes out with the pictures in it.
Q: What was the highlight of your trip back to Kentucky?
A: I sneak in every time I get the chance, which isn't much. The best times I have are just relaxing with the family and having bonfires and barbecue. I spend every waking moment with family.
Q: How is your grandma handling your continued fame?
A: She misses me bad but she loves it. I guess you can say she lives vicariously through me. I have worn her dresses and clothing many times to events. I guess her clothes finally get to go places.
Q: Why did you decide to go to Los Angeles?
A: New York was full of tall girls, many of them 16 and over 6 feet tall. L.A. is more laid-back and there are more shorter girls (Kirkpatrick is 5 feet 6). I can also act if I want. My look is more popular in L.A., and I didn't like my agency in New York. Plus, I like to just move around.
Q: Why were you looking for Kentucky models on Facebook?
A: Many people may know I have started a foundation for dyslexic kids. I will start by making a PSA (public service announcement). The long-term goal is to have a camp and a school for dyslexic kids. Because the program cost so much, I want to raise money so children can have the proper education without having to worry about money.
I'm having an event to raise money; it will be next spring. The event will include a meal, entertainment and a live fashion show. The fashion show will be all beachwear from Wanda Sue (a designer featured on America's Next Top Model), Kentucky-based designer Soreyda Begley and others. We are still looking for a place to have the event and sponsors. We will be selling tickets around April 2011.