Ebony Haith was a contestant on Cycle 1 of America’s Next Top Model. Born in the Bronx, New York, Ebony is well-known by the public because of her bald head. Ebony and I had the opportunity to discuss her career and experience on the show.
Mz Mahogany: How did you get your start as a Model?
Ebony: I actually started as a makeup artist for Japanese makeup line Shiseido. They called me to do makeup for fashion week. It was my first experience with fashion week and all of the designers kept telling me I needed be on the runway. Soon after fashion week, I started auditioning for different agencies.
Mz Mahogany: Are you still a makeup artist?
Ebony: After America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), I started doing freelance work but I don’t do it anymore.
Mz Mahogany: How did you become a contestant on America’s Next Top Model season 1?
Ebony: My girlfriend told me about it. I knew nothing about the show. The day I sent in my audition tape for ANTM was the day I was auditioning for Elite Modeling Agency. That morning I went to Elite and was the first one there, a total of roughly twenty girls showed up, but I was the last one seen. They told me I was very beautiful but they didn’t have a place for me. When I got home my girlfriend told me about ANTM. It happened to be the last day to audition. At first I said maybe there was no place for me in the modeling industry, but I decided to audition anyway. I was literally recording the audition tape with my mom on the way to the post office. When we arrived at the 34th street post office in NY, it was closed. That post office takes up an entire city block and I just knew someone would be there to help me. No one was in sight and we were about to go home. This man opened the door and said “I’m not sure why, but I think I’m supposed to help you”. I gave him the audition tape to be mailed and seven days later I was called to be on the show. I just had a feeling after going through all that, I would be called.
Mz Mahogany: How has being on the show effected your career as a model?
Ebony: Being on the show has given me a sense that I was present in this world. I have done many seminars’ with women, specifically black women. Sometimes we don’t realize we are going through so much to be present. I didn’t realize that was my issue until later. When I was on ANTM, I didn’t know if I was good enough. I didn’t know if people were going to accept me. So I went on the show as myself. When I walked off the show I thought about it all. A lot of it comes from a sense of cultural tribulation and the history of ignorance that we’ve dealt with. Once I saw myself on the show, I knew I was present. It was no longer that no one could see me. There’s no way you can’t see this 5 foot 10 bald black girl walking down the street. I no longer had to fight to be seen. It didn’t matter what my opinions were of Tyra or the show, I felt so proud that I was chosen as a black woman to represent NY on the show. NY chose this girl from Harlem that happened to be black. To me that made me feel like I won. All this time I was searching to be beautiful when I am beautiful.
Mz Mahogany: Do you keep in contact with the other contestants or Tyra?
Ebony: It’s interesting, I haven’t heard from Tyra in almost eleven years. I’ve always wanted to tell Tyra thank you for the opportunity. I thought at first I would find a lot of mentors from being on the show. I had this illusion that I would find leaders. Through this experience I realized that I was looking for an educator in someone else but it was right inside of me.
Mz Mahogany: You are known for your signature bald head, how did that come about?
Ebony: I’ve been through hair drama. I was a dancer and couldn’t fall asleep without Michael Jackson’s silver glove, I was such a fan! I was about 13 years old and said I wanted to be closer to Michael. So I decided to put a jheri curl in my hair. I was going to sleep away camp and didn’t have my activator. I was swimming in the lake every day. One day I went under the water, came up, and it was all gone. I was devastated.
Mz Mahogany: Fashion models seem to be getting thinner and thinner these days. How does this trend of being an ultra-thin model affect you?
Ebony: Well on the show, they had an issue with my curvaceous booty. They told me I needed to work on it. In one of the episodes I was on a roof top doing a photo shoot. I was freezing and was probably very stiff. They thought it was because I was not comfortable with my body because they said my butt was big. I’m a size ¾ and I still have that issue. I don’t think my butt is big! A lot of agencies didn’t want to book me because I was too healthy but for my height and my measurements I think I was right. Your bones shouldn’t be poking out; your eyes shouldn’t be sunken in. Take Jennifer Hudson for instance, she went down from an 18 to a size 7/8. That’s perfect for her body type, she looks very healthy. Society tells you to eat 3 meals a day, that’s incorrect. These agencies don’t give you a nutritionist or the tools to be healthy. Weight is a crucial issue in the modeling world.
Mz Mahogany: What does your diet consist of?
Ebony: Well now that I am 34 it has changed. If I am working out I can have a little more grains and starches. I don’t eat fish or red meats, it causes cellulite. I stick to my fruits and vegetables. I eat every 3-4 hours. The average person should be under a size 14 and that is obtained by eating healthy and working out. Eating healthy attributes to clear skin.
Mz Mahogany: On the show you were criticized for your skin, what have you done since then to obtain youthful clear skin?
Ebony: It’s funny you ask me that. People actually compliment me on my skin so it was interesting to have ANTM criticize me for my skin. Don’t even get pimples. I use black soap and Shea butter. Natural products have really helped my skin. If I do have a skin problem, I’d use tea tree oil. It’s also important to eat your greens. Taking vitamins all of a sudden can cause problematic skin. You can’t just start taking a one a day without going to a doctor. On the show we were taking those vitamins and so many of us started breaking out.
Mz Mahogany: What are you working on now?
Ebony: After ANTM, I didn’t do much runway modeling. I thought I would get so much more modeling work after the show. I can say that ANTM did not open the door for modeling but it made my presence known. I’m a comedian and I also sing. I’m really trying to move toward that direction. My last project was a movie called Violet Tendencies. My goal is to do more acting and have my own TV show.