‘America’s Next Top Model’ Winner Lisa D’Amato on the Controversy Surrounding Her Win

Lisa D'Amato

Lisa D'Amato

Lisa D’Amato — the girl whose brand was “daring” – dared to win the first All-Stars season of “America’s Next Top Model.”  But unlike past seasons of the reality TV competition, her win was overshadowed by controversy and rumors that the real winner had been Angelea Preston, who was disqualified.

On Wednesday night’s season finale, judge Nigel Barker announced that the producers had discovered that Angelea was not eligible. That meant that “ANTM” had to reshoot the final judging in Los Angeles, rather than use the ending that was shot in Greece. It also set the Internet buzzing that Angelea had been the winner but she hadn’t been able to keep the secret and posted it on her Facebook page, causing her to be disqualified.

Whether or not that is the truth has not been revealed, and we may never know. But even with all the naysaying taking place today, Lisa says this is her moment and she couldn’t be more ecstatic and happy.

I think that in this day and age with the Internet, Twitter and things, we will never grow up out of high school and rumors will just snowball and turn into a million things,” she tells Xfinity TV. “Am I answering questions about Angelea all day? Absolutely, but I don’t care. I loved Angelea.”

In this interview the day after her win was broadcast, Lisa talks about her controversial competitor, how the difficulties in her life have made her a positive role model and what is next for her.

If I remember correctly, you said in one of the bites on “ANTM” that Angelea wasn’t ready to be the All-Star winner. What did you mean by that?

I think that under pressure, she breaks. In an industry where people are constantly trying to break you over and over again — it does not stop — how are you going to put yourself together again? You have to really be someone who doesn’t fall.

There is a saying that I love. Madonna says you know you are a true star when … it is something along the lines of … If you need everyone’s attention and praise to have confidence, then you don’t have real confidence to begin with. There is another one: If you don’t break when everything is against you, that is when you know you are a true star.

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Is there anything else you can tell us about Angelea?

I love Angelea. She has a beautiful heart. She came from humble beginnings like me. One thing that helped me was therapy. There are so any girls that are out there that their childhood or upbringing definitely weighs on their shoulders and when they get into stressful situations, it tends to weigh heavier on them. I know in our society in general, people can’t afford therapy. First hand, charity is the best therapy. You can get outside of your head and really look at other people’s lives; it really is a good way to reflect on your own life.

Tyra fought for you to win because she felt that since you had been through so much in your life, you would be a good role model? Do you think she is right?

I couldn’t agree more. I came from a physically, mentally and sexually abusive home. It was also a humble beginning. We didn’t have much money at all. I was my own soldier and mentor through it all. I felt like I was living in a war. Luckily through the years, I got therapy for that. It is the most beautiful thing. It helped me. There is one thing in life you can’t buy and that is thick skin. That is what I own and that is priceless.

Now, I am going to take full advantage of that and do what I am passionate about and that is the creative arts. It is performing music, telling a story in pictures and being a model, it is being a host, and it is being a celebrity personality/performer/actress/you name it. I have been there and done that. I have been pounding the pavement in Hollywood my whole life. I know this dance.   Everyone can throw me under the bus all day long, but it is not going to be the end of me because I am strong.

I remember you thinking there were several challenges you would win, but then you didn’t. So do you think it helped you win to be good at everything but not place first, instead of having an occasional No. 1 photo?

With the video challenge, you would think I had the upper hand. I think a lot of times on the show because I am very unique and individual when it comes to performing in front of the camera, they just let me go: “Okay, Lisa is going to go do her thing.” A lot of the girls were actually getting a lot of direction, so I don’t think that the playing field was always 100 percent equal. But it was all fun. I had a blast doing the whole thing.

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On the episode that aired last night, you said you didn’t know what to do. Do you know now?

I just didn’t know how to wrap my head around that moment. I definitely know what to do. I have been lining up so many projects over the years that 2012 is going to be insane. I am talking my own television show, I am talking my album that I just finished recording and it is out right now — my second album — called Flipping the Bird, I am going to be touring not just nationwide, but overseas performing my music. Everyone can also check out my crazy, outlandish adventures on my free iPhone ap Earth To Lisa, which was a lot of fun developing.

Now I have all these other things to look forward to. I have my own perfume line Dream Come True. It is “ANTM”‘s first perfume line. You can check that out at shopdreamcometrue.com. I have my own websitelisadamato.com, so I will have everything there. You can get my iPhone ap through iTunes, too.

What are you going to do first when you finish all your press interviews?

I am going to go eat pizza.

Did you not eat pizza the entire time you were on “Top Model?”

No. I am very health conscious. I just try to make sure I am healthy, so I don’t eat that many carbs. Now, it is a bit of a celebration so I will eat pizza, go to the gym, go to bed and then it is time to go full throttle and start revealing all of these projects I have been working on all these years in the entertainment industry and start shooting forVogue and my Express campaign, my perfume line and CoverGirl®. I can’t wrap my head around all these prizes. I can’t wait to be the “Extra” correspondent.

On an emotional level what does it means to you to be the winner?

It is kind of like this peaceful validation that in the world that we live in today that scandal and selling out is rewarded constantly, if you stay true to yourself and you are genuine and a hard worker, it will pay off. I have been doing this dance in Hollywood since I was 12 years old. So regardless if I had the opportunity to “America’s Next Top Model: All Stars,” 2012 would still have been an amazing year for me. Now, it is going to be a firework explosion of love.

Did you learn anything about yourself this time around that you didn’t know before?

That is a good question. I actually think that if anything, I was getting to a place where I was getting jaded in this town. It was like sex tape, after sex tape, after getting their own shows and scandal and me trying to do things honestly in the right way. I was losing faith in the industry, so “ANTM: All Stars” definitely warmed my heart. I don’t know how else to say it. It let me know that work hard and prosper is not just a saying. It is real.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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