High fashion is the key theme of the 16th season of America's Next Top Model. Among the remaining five contestants on shoot in Morocco is 21-year-old St. Edwards University student and Houston-native Hannah Jones. Now nine episodes in, Jones has proven herself a sweet, competent contestant in the face of never ending reality TV drama.
The aspiring model took a moment to speak with CultureMap about her ascent to the runway.
CultureMap: How did you get involved in America's Next Top Model?
Hannah Jones: I started working towards getting an agent — that was my resolution last year — so I began meeting with local photographers. I just did test shoots, started getting a portfolio together and getting experience in front of the camera. I became extremely focused and worked out everyday at Fit. I was with trainers who told me really important nutrition tips. Because I became so confident physically and emotionally, I decided to audition for Top Model in the middle of the summer.
My best friend Caitlin picked me up and we went to the mall about six hours early to get a really great spot at the beginning of the line. I got a call back from the close call auditions in August. In mid-October I was going to LA because I was called to the casting week there. We started filming during the week of Oct. 18.
CM: What was the biggest challenge you encountered while on the show?
HJ: My own self doubt. I didn't believe in myself at some points. When I watch the show and see myself, I wonder, what if I would have just not cared what anybody thought and had just followed my own instincts? I should have just had more confidence with myself as a model.
It was a lot to be in a room with a bunch of pretty young girls. So the biggest challenge was bringing back up my confidence — not egotistical, but confident in my capability.
CM: Tell us about growing up in Houston.
HJ: I grew up in Bellaire and Meyerland and lived in Memorial for two years. For high school I went to HSVPA and focused in theater. They didn't have any sports teams there, so I got to play volleyball for my zoned high school, Bellaire. When I graduated, I came to Austin.
CM: What was it like living in LA in comparison to Houston?
HJ: It was a great experience to be in downtown LA near the fashion district. The change of scenery was great. The weather in Houston compared to LA? Well, LA has really nice weather.
What I missed about Houston was all the nice people here. It seems like we go out of our way here to be nice. At the same time, it helped me grow as a person to be around people who were doing their own thing in LA.
CM: Would you participate in Top Model all over again?
HJ: I had a lot of fun. I would definitely do it all again. I wouldn't take anything back. I've watched Top Model ever since it first started, and I love Cycle 16. The entire show is completely elevated. It's much more high fashion now, thanks to Tyra [Banks].
CM: How do you stay in shape?
HJ: I drink a lot of water. That's not only good for your body, but also for your skin. A lot of people don't realize you need to drink at least 90 ounces a day. I carry around a water bottle all day. It helps maintain your weight. It's also good to stay away from processed foods.
I eat clean — no GMOs. When I do eat meat, I have the occasional chicken or grass-fed beef. Animals that are raised in a humane farm setting are happier animals, and I know that they are at least treated properly. I think that's why Tyra gave me the nickname "Hippie Hannah."
I try to be as ecological as possible, which also helps your weight. Processed food is not nutritionally beneficial at all. It's also really important to eat more vegetables. Vegetables and water put together are the easiest thing.
CM: What are you up to these days?
HJ: Right now I'm living in Austin finishing the semester at St. Edwards, where I study photocommunications, which involves videography, Photoshop and video editing. I really like every aspect of photography. After finals, I'm moving to New York to model.
I kind of want to do what Natalie Portman did, balancing a career in the industry with college. Of course, I don't know if my career will be as successful, but I know that I have my foot in the door because of Top Model. A modeling career is very short lived. I love the school thing, so I'm just taking a respite.
America's Next Top Model airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays on The CW. The next episode is an elimination episode.