A former store manager for Max Azria, the 26-year-old cycle 14 "ANTM" winner is ready to make her mark with a modeling contract, a CoverGirl beauty ad, and a fashion spread in Seventeen magazine.
StyleList caught up with the jubilant Pine Bluff, Ark., native just hours after her win, which judge Andre Leon Talley declared was accomplished without a hint of "dreckitude." We couldn't agree more.
StyleList: You tried out for "ANTM" several times before and kept getting rejected.
Krista White: Every time! I started trying out on cycle 1. I went back every season -- and I would have kept going back if they hadn't picked me this time! That's how bad I wanted it.
SL: What would they tell you at the casting calls?
KW: Not very much. I never got much further than the first phase, where you wait in line for a long time, walk in a room, they ask your height and weight, and that's it. When I finally did get past that point, I was amazed. I was like, "Are you sure?"
SL: What do you intend to do with this win?
KW: What I want to do more than anything is mentor little girls. I want them to see someone like me and see that there are many definitions of what beautiful is. I want them to know if they have ever been told they are not beautiful, that isn't true.
SL: You spoke openly about getting teased for being dark skinned. How did that impact you?
KW: I got a lot of that growing up. There really is a message in our culture that lighter is better and more beautiful. One person who helped me deal with that, even before I was on ["ANTM"] was Tyra Banks. She had a show about how dark black is beautiful. It did begin to help me change how I feel about myself.
SL: The judges described you as a student of the modeling world. What did you learn from them?
KW: The most important thing I learned was how to listen. As a human being it is so hard to be criticized, but I took it. And I didn't just take the critiques they gave me. I listened to what they said to all of the other girls. I would go back to my room and take notes. Then when we had competitions I just dominated.
SL: Vogue's Andre Leon Talley said you had the potential to be a true force as an international model. What's it like to get that kind of praise?
KW: I was so excited. For a man who knows fashion like he knows fashion to say that -- wow! That's been my dream forever, so when he says you can be international, you can't quite believe it. I'm from a small town in Arkansas, but I always wanted that kind of career as a model. I do want to travel the world.
SL: Where did you get your passion for fashion, growing up in a small town?
KW: I was strutting down the hall in high heels when I was five. People always said I should play sports because I was so tall. I was like, "Don't hand me a ball; hand me some heels!" I was a total girlie girl. I was watching fashion shows on TV and online when I was a little. I was going to be involved in fashion one way or another.
SL: "Top Model" takes some hits for not producing models who dominate the fashion world. What's your game plan?
KW: I have to be as determined now as I was when I was trying out. There were girls on the show who thought, "This is all I have to do; now the world will notice me." For me, this is just a beginning: I would love to try acting; I want to keep modeling; I want to do those international shows. But I need all the determination I needed in the beginning and more if I am going to make the most of this.
For more "ANTM" cycle 14 news, read about the contestant who was knocked off a runway twice by a swinging pendulum .