My Interview with America’s Next Top Model Winner

Dani-TyraLate 2012, I pitched an idea to Ebony.com to get more male readers to the site. In asking men what they wanted to read about, I was getting a lot of men saying they would be interested in reading a woman’s view on different aspects of a relationship. What I was envisioning was something similar to Jet’s Beauty of the Week sans the swimsuit, where the subject answers 3 or 4 questions that would vary. For example: What is your biggest turn off when it comes to dating?

I envisioned classy women, nothing that screams King Magazine. A weekly, or monthly column featuring a bombshell beauty and her thoughts on love, dating, and advice for men, written by yours truly as an “As told to” piece.  I wanted C list models and actresses that are beautiful enough to pay attention to but not so “Hollywood” that the regular Joe can’t relate to what she is saying.

The editor liked the idea so I played with it. Remember Danielle “Dani” Evans? She was Tyra’s winner on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 6. Since her win, she has signed with Click Model Management and has appeared in runway shows and editorial work for Cover Girl, Pastry footwear, and Akademics. I did a candid and FUN interview with her for this piece which ultimately never ran. (sad face) But I loved her take on things. At the time, she was only 27, but wise indeed. I decided to finally get the interview in its entirety, out of my recorder and post it here…

danielle-evans1Can you tell us what you’ve been doing since we’ve seen you on America’s Next Top Model?

Dani:  I’m still modeling. I’m in New York City and it’s pretty much my every day life. Working out, casting, work. I’m still modeling full time but I also have projects that I’m working on outside of modeling. I deal with a non profit. I go to Haiti a lot and I’m working with a close friend of mine who is also a model. What we do is we take art, painting and drawing, as a means of expression for kids in poverty and use art as a way for these kids to escape and get away from the everyday life that they are used to. So we normally go out there for five days, 4 or 5 times a year.  So I’m really involved over there in Haiti.

Are you single?

Im in a relationship.

What were you looking for in a man?

You know what, I honestly didn’t know what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want. Just from trial and error and being in a relationship that didn’t work and dating men that I realized were not really on the same page as me. For me, one of the biggest things is a man respecting a woman…her mental, her body, all of that is key. So with me I didn’t know for a fact what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want and that eliminated a lot of men.

How did you know that this relationship was something you wanted to be committed to? danielle haiti

The guy I’m dating now, we’ve been in a relationship for three years and we have the same spiritual beliefs, we have a lot of the same goals and  I think that’s important when you seek a relationship, finding someone who has the same drive as you. It’s really important.

Is there a difference between love and being in love?

It’s so funny you ask that. Love is love. A lot of people in our society today want to differentiate but I always say love is love no matter what. Who you decide to be with is different. I can love someone and not choose to be with them. You get what I’m saying? For someone to say ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’ I don’t know what that means. I used to say it because everyone else said it but I had to come to the point where I understood it’s not that I’m not in love with you anymore, it’s just that I choose not to be with you anymore. In love, you choose who you want to be with.

What is the most romantic thing a man has ever done for you?

Danielle Evans and boyfriend, celebrity stylist Shaundel Hall
Danielle Evans and boyfriend, celebrity stylist Shaundel Hall

I [had been] away for work. I was going back to the city. My flight was delayed. It was storming and I ended up getting home way later than when I was supposed to.  [I knew] the next day I had work for another client. I was extremely stressed out. I was flown into Newark instead of LaGuardia or JFK and so I had to truck to get back into the city and I really wanted to see my boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him in a long time since he works in the industry as well. He’s a fashion stylist so sometimes our schedules are so busy that we don’t get to see each other as often as we like. So I was in a cab, it was nighttime. I was upset, jetlagged. So he’s texting me saying he’s sorry this has happened and we would see each other the next day. So I get home ,and inside my apartment  there are candles lit everywhere. He was hiding in my bedroom. So he came out and he had cooked for me. That was pretty major for me.

That sounds amazing. Remind me where you are from?

I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas.

OK. When you moved to New York, did you see a difference in the kind of men that you were meeting?

Oh my goodness. Night and day. Yeah. It’s so funny because me and my girlfriends still talk about that. Growing up down south, your typical guy is a southern gentlemen. He opens doors. He has manners. Some people might consider them pushovers. They’re definitely not pushovers, but they’re respectful. Not to say all men down south have it all together because they don’t but  they’re just a different breed of men cut from a different cloth. When I came to the city, I noticed that the east coast guys are a little rougher around the edge. They don’t really cater to a woman. They don’t really try to pursue a woman like the men down south. They’re a lot more aggressive which can be a turnoff when a woman is not used to that aggression.

That was actually going to be my next question. Is there anything you can pinpoint as an immediate turnoff? You don’t like the aggression?

I don’t mind aggression but it needs to be a subtle aggression. You don’t need to be all up in my face. You don’t need to danielle evans 3man handle me. There’s a time and place for everything.  I had a guy one time who always referenced me as a bitch when he was talking to me. For him, growing up [in New York] he thought that was ok. But no, that’s not ok.

Sex on a first date. Yes or no?

Absolutely not.

Ok. [I laugh] Do you want to qualify that?

If you are looking to get married, why are you giving everything away on a first date? Sex clouds a lot of things. With sex, you tend to get emotionally attached and you don’t get to know the true person because its clouded by lust and the feel of it and the excitement of it. I always say if you can be celibate and be in a relationship than that’s a win win. If you can get into an argument and then figure it out without having make up sex, you’re on the right road.  Sex doesn’t always fix everything. For me, I found that sex often complicates things.

Any other advice you want to give to men looking to settle down with a special someone, anything that he should be doing differently to find her?

I would say that if you’re doing the same things repeatedly and you’re looking for something different, then that could be a major problem. You have to do something different in order to get a different result. I think that men need to go back to pursuing a woman and respecting everything about her. It shouldn’t be about sex. Have lengthy conversations. Get to know her before you commit or even before you run. It’s important to get back to days of having long conversations and really getting to know her before you throw the baby out with the wash because she did something that was a red flag for you. Pursue her a little while longer. Get to know her interests and what makes her tick or what ticks her off. Listen to her. Be spontaneous and do the things that she’s not used to… in a good way.

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