Australia’s Next Top Model Winner’Interview: Melissa

Sadly, another season of ANTM has come and gone. We grew with the girls, following their evolution from caterpillars crawling through the mud at boot camp to beautiful butterflies wearing ridiculous/amazing hats during last night’s live finale runway show. But it was ultimately Christina Ricci v2.0 (aka Melissa Juratowitch) who took out the winning title. We caught up with the 16-year-old this morning and can officially confirm that she is a total chiller. Go Melissa! 

How does it feel to be Australia’s Next Top Model?! It’s amazing… I don’t even know, though, I’m still in complete shock from it. I was sitting here just before and I had this realisation that I’m with the same agency as Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr. Yeah, it hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m so excited!

I was there last night in the audience, and even though I was only in the audience, it felt sort of surreal, the whole live TV thing. You didn’t seem too nervous though? I was so nervous beforehand. A couple of hours before it began I nearly broke down, and was like, “Nah, I can’t do this.” But just before it started I got this hit and I got so excited, and I got out there and we came off stage and I was like, “Where are we going back on?!” 

It must’ve been the adrenaline kicking in. Totally. The whole room was insane – everyone screaming and yelling. It was absolutely incredible. 

Is it weird to have fans now? It was insane – all these people yelling and screaming my name, and wanting to get their photo taken with me. I’m used to being that person! I’m used to fan-girling over someone, so it’s just like, “Wait, what? Why do you care? It’s so crazy to think that you people want to talk to me!” But it’s so cool! 

What did you do to celebrate? Did you got to the after party at Marquee? Yeah, I went to the after party.

But you’re only 16 so you can’t drink, right? [Laughs] Yeah, I was there with my fluro yellow wristband, letting everybody know that I was underage. I was there for a little while, talking to people and getting photos. I hung out with my parents in my room for a little bit. I’m planning on having a big party when I get home with all my friends. The celebrations haven’t exactly started yet. 

When are you off to Paris for the casting? I have no idea. I’m waiting to get in contact with IMG, and find out exactly what the plan is. Apparently it has all been confirmed so I’m just waiting to find out when I’m off. 

Have you done much traveling overseas besides when you travelled on the show? Yeah, I’ve been overseas quite a few times. I’ve been to Europe three times, I’ve been to China, and through Asia. Traveling is the best thing ever. 

What are your expectations of the casting and going overseas as an international model? I don’t know what to expect. I’m expecting it’s going to be a crazy period of time now after the show, so I’m just excited to see what ‘the real world’ of modelling is like. What we’ve been doing on reality TV is obviously a representation of what it’s supposed to be like, so to get in there and do the real thing will be awesome. 

What’s your dream modeling job? I would love to do Calvin Klein. They’re my ultimate. I would love to do any campaign for them.

Looking back on the whole ANTM experience, you were so shy in the beginning and now you seem much more confident. What was the biggest thing about you that changed? Confidence was definitely the biggest change. I learnt that my approach to dealing with this sort of stuff [high pressure situations] is that my approach is to not really think about it. Then it gets to the point where I should do it, and I just push myself and get out there and do it. I think that works the best for me because I tend to over-think things sometimes so I learnt to just let go and go with it. 

Do you have any regrets? The underwater challenge, for example, involved a huge amount of fear for you…I don’t really regret anything that I did. I look back now at the underwater challenge and I hope that people understand that it was hard for me; it was even hard for me being on the boat. It might sound trivial to some people but I didn’t like it, and I didn’t feel comfortable. Some of the criticisms that I’ve been getting from that challenge was that I should’ve done it and I should’ve been professional, however I would never voluntarily take on a job like that therefore I don’t think I would ever be put in that position again.  

It’s not like you were being a drama queen, I actually felt sorry for you because I could tell you were being faced with a deep-seated fear. Yeah, I don’t think that I was being unrealistic in the way that I dealt with it. I just sort of said, “I don’t feel comfortable doing this.” I personally don’t think I made a scene or anything like that. I handled it as best as I could and I don’t regret not doing it. 

Who was your favourite judge? Alex. He was so upfront about everything, he wasn’t trying to be your best friend and sugarcoat everything. He would just say, “I love it” or “I don’t love it” and “you need to do this.” For me, that was what I needed. I just needed something in the competition to be real, and be straight with me. I really appreciated him doing that. 

I’ve got to ask you something that I’ve wondered for a while. You never even had any intention of entering the ANTM competition — you just went along to the initial casting with a friend who was entering — and now you’ve won. What’s the relationship like with the friend? You kind of stole her thunder. A little bit [laughs]. I went along to watch her and she didn’t make it through to the first round. We’re good now, we’re still friends. I have no doubt that she’s going to hit up some agencies and get signed anyway. That’s the thing with all this sort of stuff, it’s just good timing. We’re good. 

How do you think your life will change now? The show changed everything but now I’m going to get out there and do the real thing, and if people do like me as much as everyone’s been telling me they have then things are going to blow up hopefully. I’ll probably be traveling around a lot, and be everywhere but home. Everything’s up in the air at the moment, so it will be good to get some answers soon. 

Are you going to finish school? School has always been a priority for me, and it’s something that I’m definitely going to finish but there’s a lot of alternatives now. I don’t have to sit in a classroom, I can do things online. If it takes me a little bit longer [to finish school] then I’m okay with that. I will graduate high school in the end.