Kelly Cutrone is known as a fashion publicist, owner of the company ‘Peoples Revolution’ and the author of ‘If You Have To Cry, Go Outside’ and ‘Normal Gets You Nowhere.’ She’s also no stranger to reality TV, having had previous guest spots on ‘The Hills,’ ‘The City,’ and ‘True Life,’ as well as having her own reality show ‘Kell on Earth.’ As if all that isn’t enough, Kelly brought her no-nonsense approach to this season of America’s Next Top Model as a judge. Real Style Network joined Kelly on a call to talk about her role in the show and what it takes to succeed as a model.
Q. What was it like becoming a judge on America’s Next Top Model? Was it a big switch from the usual or a natural progression?
Kelly Cutrone: It’s pretty easy for me. I’ve owned People’s Revolution since 1996 and have probably cast 3000 fashion shows. A lot of people ask, “What does Kelly Cutrone know about models?” well let me answer that question. I cast fashion shows every season, I’m used to 16 a season and then also all our lookbooks and ad campaigns involve models. We worked with Chanel Iman really early on in her career, I was the first person to cast Dree Hemmingway. So we’ve worked with top models as an agency throughout my job. I also know that having a great model on set can make it, or having a horrible model can totally ruin the whole budget and campaign. We kind of live and die by the models that we choose,how they perform and how we all work together.
Q. So what was judging on the show like?
Kelly Cutrone: Judging is pretty easy, it was fun. Sometime (with the models) it was a little like, “Are you kidding me, are we really having this conversation?” but it was nice for me to work with Nigel and Tyra. As far as most of the girls I think they are interesting and really use the experience to learn, to say “OK, I’m going to have a lot of experience and these people are telling us these things not to be mean but because it’s their job to give us advice and help us grow.” And then there are other people who are just like, “Don’t tell me, I know everything there is to know.” And my point to that is, why are you here? If you’re so hot at 20 why aren’t you on the catwalks if you know everything there is? I know plenty of 20 year old models that are making major bank, why aren’t you there if you know everything already?
Q. This season was American and British girls. Did you notice any differences?
Kelly Cutrone: Not really. Being someone who produces fashion shows and casts models all the time we have girls from all over the world. I’ve worked with all different kinds of girls, so I think that to put the British and American girls together is cute but from the minute we were on the judges panel we weren’t looking at it as Americans vs. Brits, we were looking at them as models.
Q. Was there a lot of drama between you and the models?
Kelly Cutrone: The truth of the matter is that there’s drama with all the judges, but now that I’m there somehow it’s always me. I go back and look at the episode and I don’t really get it. So I do want to have lunch with Simon Cowell, I feel like he could help me a lot making the transition. I was thinking about calling Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsey and seeing if they’d take me out to lunch.
Q. You’re pretty known for giving the truth.
Kelly Cutrone: Listen, I think there’s this group of people that like to celebrate mediocrity and they all get together and hide behind names on the internet and they try to defend mediocrity and try to make people who are successful into the bad person. It’s like, if that’s what you want to do then cool, but is there drama between the models? Yes. The models bring out the best and worst in us and themselves so sometimes it’s a little tricky when you’re sitting there using your time, which is valuable, trying to help them move forward and they don’t want to listen. (In one episode) Louise was incredibly rude to me all day on the shoot, just running around like a hurricane. She didn’t want to be told anything and it’s pretty safe to say that she physically threatens me. And somehow after that everyone was like “Kelly Cutrone bullied Louise.” Really? That’s a good one. So there’s drama with her, there’s drama with the other girls. They’re young, pretty, skinny women who are in the middle of a competition, so there’s a lot of drama. I’m upset viewers didn’t get to see more of the drama. I actually asked one of the producers, “Why can’t we show more of this?” At the same time we on the judging panel don’t see some of the drama that happens in the house so it was really weird for us to see like, Seymone who is sweeter than sweet on panel, really throwing down with Louise. I’m seeing that the same time as viewers are seeing that.
Q. What do you think it takes to succeed as a model beyond America’s Next Top Model?
Kelly Cutrone: I think one of the things that is really evident when you watch the show is that it’s about what people do with information they’re given and what they do afterwards. I don’t know anyone successful who hasn’t felt like someone was really rude to them. Whether that person was or not is a separate story, just it felt to the person like they really had their feelings hurt and weren’t really expecting it. I’m scared running Peoples Revolution so many times about all the different things that come into doing a business, and some people just close up shop or they hide and things get worse like a toothache that turns into a root canal. Other people go, “OK, this was really horrendous and I’m going to make it better.” And you can see in the competition what people do with it. I think a lot of the time they forget they’re in the competition and they’re there to win these prizes and use the exposure of the network and all of the help that they’re getting from the people who are coming on and teaching them. How many people get to go on a photo shoot with an amazing photographer, wear dresses and have direction given about being models? They just have to start out at the bottom of the barrel. There were girls who in the beginning I just loved and I wanted them to go to the end. One or two weeks in you’d just see their attitude and you’re surprised. Or they’re doing a photo shoot and can’t get the shot right and instead of just saying, “I need 2 seconds to pull myself together and come back fresh” they just put on attitude. When you’re looking at the photos it’s interesting to hear what happened. They’ll tell you “oh I couldn’t get the shot, I was hot.” Yeah, we shoot summer campaigns in the middle of winter and winter campaigns in the middle of summer, so the models you see in bikinis are freezing. I don’t know what they’re expecting.
Q. Some people have questioned the staying power of the models that win ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ Without giving too much away are you satisfied with the girl who wins?
Kelly Cutrone: I’ve seen a lot of the girls who win and they’re all model material and have every opportunity. There are a lot of really talented girls who decide they don’t really want to do this. They say, “I’ve been through this and I thought this job was going to be easy, I’d be the boss and not have to work,” but that’s not what modeling is. It’s just about what to people want to do. I think a lot of people in today’s generation think because of reality TV or something that they’re supposed to be really rich and successful. I just don’t know that many people who are, from a percentage point, so I think they get disillusioned. If you don’t want to work your ass off, compete, be judged, be told what to do, travel and wear the clothes that people tell you to, then guess what? Modeling isn’t the right choice for you. If you don’t want to sit quietly surrounded by books don’t be a librarian.
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