Me: How is Tyra Banks in real life? Is she as motherly as she appears on-screen?
Will Jardell: Honestly, she really is a wonderful human being and she cared a lot about us from the very beginning. She took the time on all the shoots to come and check on us; when panel filming wasn’t going on she would make sure we [were] okay. She was always working, very busy, but as much as possible she made sure we had what we need and things were going okay. We didn’t expect that, but it was very rewarding and made us feel good as people and just as models for the show. She is crazy, and she has crazy things to say, but she’s a very loving person. I love her.
Me: When did you know you wanted to get into fashion?
Will: Wasn’t a decision right when I graduated college; in college I didn’t have time to do modeling. I wanted to, but just didn’t have time. I went to school for Medical Science, but about a week after I graduated, I got a call to submit for ANTM and the journey leading up to the show is really when I fell in love with fashion.
Me: What were you thinking when they told you to embrace your feminine side, but also your masculinity when posing; was it difficult to find the balance?
Will: It was very interesting, I did so many sports in high school and I was brought up to be strong and aggressive. In college, I did more artsy stuff and found my passion for dance. My background helped me go back and forth, and because the guys who were so strong on the show who really portray manliness, I thought I had to be that too. But going through the process I found I needed to be me and it shocked me because I thought I needed to be the strong guy, but I became more comfortable with myself as time went. It all worked in my favor.
Me: You have a great body, but on a shoot during the show, the photographer asked you to "suck in" your tummy - how did that make you feel?
Will: During the photo shoot it was definitely hard and it brought me back to being self-conscience and when I was hiding behind a fake wall to shelter myself. Through the process of the show; having silly string on me, and the water shoot, those really helped me boost my confidence. It didn’t really knock me down on myself; it was more like, “Prove to them that you can do it. Even though you don’t have the abs that the other guys do. But you still have what it takes to be a top model.” Even though I work out all the time, 6’6" is hard to tone. It was hard to hear the comments, but I was built up through the nine weeks and my confidence level overshadowed the negative.
Will: Everything in the modeling industry has to do with confidence – if you show up to a job and display confidence that will overshadow your body type. If they like you, they will do everything they can to make you look good and make it happen for you. They are not gonna work with you if you have a bad attitude.
Me: Has the fashion/modeling industry helped make you more comfortable with your sexuality and confidence as a gay model?
Will: For sure! Going into the show, I came from a conservative college and background, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Going into the show I was surrounded by creative people who don’t care about sexual orientation and they want to get you know as an art form and person. It was really eye opening to be in that world, because where I came from everyone gets married and has kids. This experience was very new for me. Ever since the show everyone says I’m such an inspiration to people, which is crazy because I was looking up to Cory (Cycle 20) a year ago, and now I’m the one people are looking up to. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride since the show started.
Me: During the show, who was your closest ally and can you talk about the highly publicized episode with Denzel's "homophobic" comments?
Will: My closest friend was Raelia. From the very first day, the first words out of my mouth were “we are going to be best friends.” We were attached at the hip, formed an alliance and made sure both of us were always okay. We both live together now and have an amazing bond from going through the experience together. Friends forever. We were each other’s rock. Denzel – yes, it was as dramatic as it appeared. Because he didn’t expect people to hear what he said; this elevated the situation even more. We’ve talked a lot and tried to understand each other better. We’ve become really close; he’s an amazing person. Everyone has growing to do and everyone has to grow from different types of people. It wasn’t against me, it was a slip up. Everyone says something they regret. That situation lasted for hours; it really was awful and made me feel bad; it broke me at that point.
Me: What does your boyfriend think about the show and how has he reacted to all of this?
Will: He is very supportive; it’s very interesting because we talk about it a lot. I remind him that people watching the show are watching things that happened 9 months ago, but the reality is the present and it’s hard for both of us since fans are commenting on things that happened so long ago. He is wonderful and supportive and it’s so fun to live it with my family and friends. I didn't personally ask him about his now famous kiss with fellow contestant Matt Smith (in case you missed the commotion, Out covered it beautifully). "The embrace was the result of a dare but it should come as no surprise to anyone that it happened. 'We’re probably the closest guys in the house in the very beginning,' Jardell says of Smith. 'We didn’t think much of [the kiss] because we had that close relationship, close friendship.'”
Me: What's on your playlist right now?
Will: I always have Beyoncé playing at all times. Also, London Grammar a lot, A Great Big World, Lady Gaga of course. One Direction, Louie is my favorite. Will also told me that his favorite movie is Cars, but don't expect him to join the Screen Actors Guild anytime soon. "No acting. Acting scares me." He's also a self-proclaimed nerd. " I will sit in my room and devote a day to LOTR, then Star Wars, then Harry Potter. I also really like to read." So after discovering he was basically going to be my best friend, I refocused for my final questions.
Me: If you could choose your next photo shoot and all the details, what would you do?
Will: I really wanna do something super crazy with a bunch of exotic animals in a safari setting; maybe Alexander Mcqueen I'd love to model, Michael Costello too. The shoot would be super colorful and with a photographer and designer who is out of the box.
Me:How has the show affected your life?
Will: I recently moved to LA, been here for 2 months now. I've been doing shoots and meeting people and networking. A lot of awesome projects in the works that will be coming soon and are really exciting. I look forward to the future. I don’t surrender and I do my best with whatever comes my way. Also, the fact that people see me as a huge inspiration is very crazy, but I’m thankful that I can touch lives and people can be more confident. It’s very crazy because I’ll walk around and people will notice me and say thank you for being you. It’s very surreal. Alright friends, we've booched our way to the end of this story. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Will a bit better, and you better tune in Fridays on The CW at 9:00pm (EST) to see Will in action. In case you weren't sure, that means tonight!
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