Walking the walk
THE tall, willowy Camille McDonald had just finished an interview and came over to the table where the EASY magazine team was sitting. The America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) alumnus was wearing a form-fitting pink dress and matching pink and white shades.
“A friend of mine made these shades for me,” she said. “They are covered with pink fabric,” she added smiling. “It’s so that I’ll always see the world through rose-coloured glasses.”
McDonald’s view of the world and her place in the spotlight has often sparked its share of controversy. As a finalist on ANTM, Camille wasn’t a favourite among the girls who felt that her confident nature bordered on arrogance. At times Camille, the judges and Tyra clashed before she was eliminated from the show in the eighth week.
Now in her 30s, older and wiser and more seasoned in the world of modelling and life on reality television, Camille talked quite candidly of the show that helped shape her life and her recent appearance on America’s Next Top Model All-Stars.
“The show was basically an opportunity to brand ourselves, so branding was the focal point. I was excited that I got chosen as a fan favourite because I saw it as an opportunity to brand myself,” she said. The prizes were different from before, the Cover Girl contract was more, the correspondent job with Extra entertainment, a cover for Italian Vogue and other things.”
Camille revealed her excitement on being chosen for the All-Star cycle in that the fans would have wanted to see her.
“I think when people think about Camille McDonald they think about signature walk, about the Caribbean and I think that’s something good,” she said beaming. “I told Tyra on the show that my signature walk is going to make me famous.”
While Camille didn’t win America’s Next Top Model in Season Two, she did make her mark, though at times controversially.
“I’ve had an amazing time post-Cycle Two travelling around the world showing my signature walk,” she said. “During Cycle Two I felt that my saying my signature walk was going to make me famous was taken as something negative. It wasn’t.”
The Howard University alumni also credits her time and work there with the Howard Homecoming and Caribbean Fashion show, along with internship credentials at W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily and her exposure to working with celebrities as giving her that confidence and edge.
“These people see hundreds of girls each day so you have to set yourself apart so that they’ll remember you,” she said. “Whether it was the right thing to say or the wrong thing to say, the important thing is that they remembered me.”
Camille even remembered when she was confronted by Tyra Banks herself during the Cycle Two when she was in Milan.
“I remembered when we went to panel, Tyra was ‘Oh my God Camille, I can’t believe you said that. I was like what? But then the next season Tyra turned into something positive and asked all the girls to do their signature walk and remember who said their signature walk was going to make them famous. It becomes a positive thing when I’m not on the show, but when I’m on the show it’s something bad or negative. But that comment didn’t come from a place of arrogance, it came from a place of confidence and being assertive in a sense.”
On many levels she felt vindicated that she could return for the All-Star show years later, and show a different side of herself, especially after the show was pitched as a branding opportunity.
“I was very disappointed because of how the show was developed as a branding opportunity, but no-one got to see my signature walk because I didn’t get that far in the competition,” she said of Cycle 17.
“I also felt that my personality was kind of drowned out. I didn’t feel that I got the justice I deserved as far as my camera time was concerned. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not shy. Every morning I got up on the show, I woke the girls, we all worked out and I cooked Jamaican food for them but you don’t see any of that. ”
Though Camille felt she was completely misunderstood during Cycle Two she doesn’t regret the experience.
“I have my company called Signature Walk Inc. – it’s a fashion marketing company. We provide hair and make-up backstage at fashion shows, along with consultations on beauty and health and wellness,” she said.
“There is also Signature Mentoring which is a programme that I take to kids each year and I help facilitate and educate them in their dreams, and put them through a camp called the National Association of Blessed Billionaires.”