Rita Ora Dishes on Taking Over For Tyra on America’s Next Top Model

Photo Courtesy of VH1

We know what you’re thinking: how could anyone replace Tyra as the host of America’s Next Top ModelAnd the truth is, no one could – but if anyone can step in and take the show in a fresh, exciting new direction, that in it’s own way might be just as fun to watch as it’s predecessor, it’s Rita Ora.

The singer, actress, model, and designer has already had a huge career for herself at the ripe age of 26. In addition to her music career, which has already spawned four #1 singles in the UK, she’s appeared in blockbusters like Fast & Furious 6 and Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as collaborating on fashion lines with brands like Adidas and Rimmel.

Perched on an armchair in the Mercer Hotel, wearing a giant, bright orange parka with architectural cutouts, Ora was the picture of poise and glamour, but we were more struck by just how warm and open she was. We caught up with the star about her new hosting gig, her fashion design aspirations, Grammy predictions, and why there’s no more guys this season.

So you’re the new host of America’s Next Top Model.

I feel like I can’t believe it’s coming out so soon, to be honest. We filmed it in August. It was amazing to be a part of – I never approached with the intent to replace Tyra. Our whole idea was to reinvent ANTM for 2016. For people that really want to know what’s going to happen with the winner – because, nowadays, it’s more than just taking a good photo – OK, double-like, move on, oh, something else is going on! It takes a lot to be remembered nowadays. So taking that into consideration, the producers and Tyra and I thought, “Well, let’s do that. Let’s look for a brand-boss beautiful girl who can rock a campaign and still be in a room and hold her own.” Tyra has been so helpful, and she actually makes a cameo in the beginning, telling the girls about the new panel. She’s just been so supportive.

Did she give you any advice?

I asked her “How the hell do you say goodbye to these girls every week?” Because I started to really fall for them, in love with them and their stories. When you see the season, you’ll realize you learn to love these girls, or hate them – they come from nothing. Some of them come from the middle of nowhere. I’m from Kosovo – I was a refugee in the UK. I relate to these girls being told no – when you walk into a room and you’re told “You’re 14. Your music isn’t ready yet.” And Tyra said, “You have to do it. You’re a role model for these girls. You have to say no with pride, and compassion, and remind them that it’s just another chapter in their book.” But god, it was really difficult.

Had you already been a fan of the show before Tyra approached you?

Yes, and I’d been a fan of the iconic moments. There were times I’d have wine with my friends and look at a YouTube reel of the iconic Tyra moments.

We were all rooting for you!

That, for me, everyone remembers that. And that happened without anyone thinking about it. And I’d like to say there’s a few iconic moments in this season. I can’t wait for people to see.

You’ve got some Tiffany moments?

You get angry. You want these girls to win. It’s not anger at them, it’s: “Wake up! Once you’re out there, what’s going to make you get booked, and not Gigi? Or Bella, or Karlie Kloss?”

Who are your style icons whom you look up to?

My figures are people who had a voice – it wasn’t always about how they looked. For me, Tyra, obviously, having the initiative to create a brand and be a boss. Gaga, going on American Horror Story, I really love her. And Freddy Mercury – these people have created moments not just because of how crazy they dress, but because they were really committed to themselves. Madonna, obviously being one. These people – not just for what they’ve done for the gay community, but for people wanting to be creative, and outspoken. It’s amazing to see.

Did you listen to Joanne?

Yes – fantastic record.

How are you feeling about your own new music?

I’m just so ready for this album to come out. I’ve been through a lot, musically. Everything I was trying to do creatively was getting blocked at the time, and it was very difficult for me to voice myself, and there was a point that I really just gave up and started doing other things. Which is incredible – like fashion, and movies, which I’m not complaining about. But I love music, and it’s the reason I started entertaining in the first place, and now I’ve got my second album coming out with Atlantic Records, and I’m so proud of it, I’ve written every song on it. It’s based in London. We live produced everything. Instruments, the band, a full orchestra.

What was it inspired by?

Really just the fact that I couldn’t do it. I was starving, I was like “What the fuck? Why can’t I do this? I have this following, and this amazing fan base, on Twitter, and Instagram, and nothing to tell them, because I didn’t want to go into this whole thing.” I just thought, “Hopefully, they’ll stick by me.” And they did. And it’s a beautiful thing to now be free. This album is about celebrating that, and not dwelling on the past. I’m now able to sing my songs, and dress how I wanted to dress in my videos.
Is it a new sound?
Definitely – it’s more mature. It’s got elements of pop, for sure, but it’s soul. It’s a record with inspirations from The Beatles, to everything… it’s live music. It’s fun. We’re taking it back to basics.

Are you rooting for anyone at the Grammys?

Childish Gambino’s album was great – even though he wasn’t nominated. Chance the Rapper’s album was so cool. I hope he gets that. The Bon Iver album this year for me was fantastic.

What’s your Netflix binge?

The Crown, I’m watching right now, about the royal family. It’s really interesting. Peaky Blinders is one of my favorites. There’s this show America’s Next Top Model coming out soon…

You’ve got a new collection with Adidas?

Yeah, my fifteenth collection with them. I can’t believe it. I signed four and a half years ago, by the way, before any of these sports collaborations happened, thank you very much. Well, to be honest, Missy Elliott was the first – she did one with Adidas before anybody. And so did Katy Perry, I believe, when she did her tour merch with them? But yeah, fifteen collections deep, it’s time to really take Adidas collab into another realm, which is I really want to distribute my line and do it on my own. Adidas will always support me, we’ve had a lot of success with each other. So, it’s not the end. It’s just a new chapter. I’ll never stop collaborating. But it’s all about doing it on your own, I think. It will take a long time. Look at Victoria Beckham – she was in Spice Girls, and now she’s an incredible designer.

The Top Model judges are great. Ashley Graham…

She’s great. She’s someone to me who hasn’t gotten the respect they deserves. She’s had such a great story from her catalogue modeling days to being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I think that’s such a sick transition. I feel like this show is really going to make people understand not only her struggle, and what she had to do to get there, but also inspire the contestants that it’s OK to be said no to. She knows more than anybody what “no” feels like. People told me all the time, even me: “You’re too big to be on campaigns.” So I can only imagine what Ashley goes through. Not only that, but I also thought she was a really good judge to keep the girls in check when they feel like “I’m too big” – everyone has insecurities. So I think she’s a really good, solid person to listen to in that department.

Is there anything you learned from the contestants while doing this that you weren’t expecting?

The hunger of it all. You never know how much someone wants it until they really want it. You see things… you do stuff that you don’t even recognize yourself doing, when you really want something. It’s: “I will do anything to get there. With class, of course.” But I think these girls are really fighting for their lives in this show. I didn’t realize before I was in it. You see what happens in the house, you see how they are… everything is real. I think people forget when it’s on TV, they think it’s not real. But it is.

Why no guys?

Because in the original ANTM at the start, which is what I looked at before starting this show, it was just girls. I wanted to go back to how it started. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way forever. But for the first new branding of the show we wanted to go back to the basics of it, and it was girls. So I thought, “Let’s just start it off like that, see what happens, see how it elevates. And take it from there.”

America’s Next Top Model returned on VH1 December 12 at 10 PM EST.

The Women Behind The Dalloway On Their Lesbian Prom

The Dalloway is a bi-level restaurant cocktail lounge located at 525 Broome Street in Soho. From their release: "Owners Amanda Leigh Dunn and Kim Stolz have had a strong influence on New York’s lesbian scene and The Dalloway, their first collaboration, was born out of a desire to create a venue with a strong female team that is open to everyone." 

Co-owner Amanda Leigh Dunn was previously the owner of Cross Street Productions, directly across the street from the restaurant. She designed The .Dalloway. She is best known, however, for her starring role in  Showtime’s The L Word. Co-owner Kim Stolx is a former MTV News correspondent who became further known as an America’s Next Top Model contestant. She worked at MTV as a news anchor, wrote a book (Can’t Stop) and worked on Wall Street. They grabbed Noche’s Vanessa Miller as executive chef who famously started working restaurants as a teenager.

They’re having a Lesbian Prom on Valentine’s day and "The Biggest Singles Night Yet" on Tuesday, February 12th to ensure romance on the big day. I asked them to tell me all about it.

The Dalloway…tell me about the name.
Amanda Leigh Dunn: Kim came up with the name (as mine were absolutely terrible). We felt that it was important to be both subtle but still hold meaning. Virginia Woolf is known through her writings to be a closeted lesbian whose death attributed to not being able to come out and find herself. Mrs. Dalloway was our favorite book of hers, so The Dalloway came to be. We want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and safe, and we think the name holds a nice significance to those who know its meaning. 

The restaurant is lesbian-owned. Is that newsworthy… important to mention? Important to the brand?
ALD: I think it’s more that when someone looks up to you for being comfortable being out to the public, it makes them more comfortable. And Kim and I are very publicly gay. It was much easier for us to get the word out quickly. I think it is important to the brand, because Kim and I are extremely involved, and always make sure one of us is always there. We want everyone to know that they are as important to us as we are to them. 

Tell me about the lesbian prom.
ALD: The prom is on Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be amazing. We have a photo booth, and are decorating the whole place to look like high school prom. A lot of girls weren’t out in high school, or didn’t feel comfortable bringing someone of the same sex, so it’s going to be really fun. I’ll definitely be there in a full tux. Everyone is welcome – they just need to RSVP to BeMine@thedallowaynyc.com. There is no cover or fee. We just want everyone to have a good time.

Is this an exportable brand? Will Dalloway pop up in Vegas? LA? Miami?
ALD: I guess time will tell, but it’s definitely not out of the question. 

Tell me about the menu and what a patron might expect
ALD: We are new-American small plates, so it’s perfect for the indecisive foodie. Everything on the menu is priced around $10 – so we recommend 2-3 items per person. People really love to share various plates. Vanessa Miller is our chef. She is absolutely amazing. She is the youngest female exec chef in the nation, and is always coming up with amazing specials and innovative takes on traditional dishes. Her food has been getting rave reviews and she definitely doesn’t disappoint.

Your Daily Guide to Trending Topics

Every day there are some topics that are trending, Since many of them don’t make sense, we provide easy contextualization. Also, this way, you won’t actually have to know anything about anything.

Robert F. Kennedy

RFK Jr. is trending today because yesterday his estranged wife, Mary Kennedy, died, reportedly from having hanged herself at their Westchester, New York estate. It’s just the latest tragedy for the seemingly cursed American political dynasty, which has seen more than its fair share of members die in tragic and untimely ways. The Kennedys were married in 1994, but last year Bobby filed for divorce amid rumors of Mary’s substance abuse issues and of his own philandering. “We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her,” the family said in a statement.

Nick Stahl

In other curse news, people are searching up a storm (both online and in person) for actor Nick Stahl of Terminator 3 is the latest cast member of that franchise to run into trouble. The 32-year-old’s wife has reported him missing, saying the last time he was seen was May 9 and adding that Stahl had been frequenting a down-and-out part of Los Angeles, perhaps a hint at drug use. Stahl took over in the Terminator franchise for Edward Furlong, who left the series to find his own problems, including stints in rehab and accusations of rather serious violence against his wife. Troubled actors including Christian Bale and Thomas Dekker have also been part of the series of films.

Tyra Banks

Over at Yahoo!, things are a little more lighthearted; the site’s number-one search term is “Tyra Banks Too Fat.” But the readers there aren’t hating, they’re searching for an essay the America’s Next Top Model host wrote  for The Daily Beast supporting the new Vogue rule banning underage and malnourished models. In the piece, Banks discusses her own battles with weight and how difficult it made her teenage life. Then she explains what exactly it is about her modeling competition show that is healthy for young viewers. No, of course she doesn’t do that part. 

iPad Mini

People are nuts about Apple products—spending money on them instead of more valuable Apple stock—but this is crazy. The internet is wild with iAddicts searching for a report that says that Apple might be planning to release a 7-inch version of its tablet, which would retail for about $250, to compete with the Kindle. There already is an iPad Mini, guys, it’s called an iPhone. Whatever, see you all in line.

John Travolta

Bing users are still a bit hung up on movie star and pubic hair hippie John Travolta and the mounting lawsuits against him for making homosexy advanced toward masseurs and other guys. Too bad searching for Travolta news on Bing doesn’t bring you this hot nugget: According to the wife of late Grease star Jeff Conway, Travolta once tried to wake the now-deceased actor with oral sex, leading to a rift in their friendship and what might have been a lasting distaste on Conway’s part for morning action.

Lil Kim

Twitter is bonkers for the Queen Bee this morning, due to her appearance on a New York radio show and also the news that she has taken in her estranged father, who’s reportedly suffering from Alzheimer’s but could also be a spy sent by Nicki Minaj and Foxy Brown to attack from inside her home. The story is developing.

Lil Kim 1

Lil Kim 2

Lil Kim 3

Lil Kim 4


Here’s What Janice Dickinson Would Do

Janice Dickinson’s not only the (self-proclaimed) world’s first supermodel, she’s also the first judge to unceremoniously split with Tyra Banks’s America’s Next Top Model, something that’s become a bit of a trend again lately. The fallin-out that lead the former girlfriend of Warren Beatty, Sylvester Stallone, and Mick Jagger to publicly declare that the string-bean reality competition is “rigged” and to say, "CoverGirl are the ones who choose the model—not any of the judges. People don’t know that!”

There’s not a lot else people don’t know about Dickinson, though, considering the boundary-free glamazon is the author of two memoirs and a dating-advice book and has logged time on a number of reality shows, including The Surreal Life and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Tonight, Dickinson will continue her proud tradition of straight shooting and acid-tongued commentary with the premiere of WWJDWhat Would Janice Do, a one-woman show at XL, Manhattan’s 14,000-square-foot juggernaut of a gay club. We caught up with Dickinson to find out what secrets she has left to spill, how far her fame has spread, and what exactly it is she wants to do with twinky movie star Zac Efron.

What made you decide to do a one-woman show?
In the first place, I’ve written three books and decided to just gel it into one big story. I’ve done several one woman shows in the past and now I’ve decided to take it to New York.

What about the show might people be most surprised by?
Walking away with an amazing feeling and being totally fulfilled with suspense and awe, and astounding experiences that they will never ever be able to feel themselves again. They get to share my amazing ride.

What do you make of having been famous for so long but being known by some fans only for your TV work?
That’s an absurd question! I’m a global icon legend. I could go to Africa and tribesmen would know me!

Without giving away too much, can you share what one of your more scandalous stories might be about?
There’s hundreds of them, it’s impossible to choose one! How many people can say, other than the wives of presidents, that they’ve sat on the lap of a president for over 15 minutes. You’ll have to come to my show to find out which one it was.

If you had to eat one celebrity, who would it be?
Zac Efron.

Tyra Banks Fires All ‘ANTM’ Judges Not Named Tyra Banks

When America’s Next Top Model begins its 19th cycle this year, it will do so without any of the original judges besides Tyra Banks. Actually, it’ll do so without any of the judges that were around just one season ago (again, except for Banks).

Banks announced yesterday that longtime judges Nigel Barker, "Miss" J. Alexander and Jay Manuel would not have their contracts renewed by the CW (the fate of the panel’s newest member, fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone, was not immediately known). The need to revamp the show to combat recent record low ratings has been thrown around as an excuse for the firings, but it’s probably more likely that Banks just couldn’t stand to have anyone but herself on the judging panel any longer. Because Banks is a narcissist.

In a statement to TMZ, Barker said, "Good luck to whoever [replaces me]. I would imagine it’s a tricky thing to replace someone who’s going on their 19th season."

If you consider cloning Banks a few times for an all-Tyra panel "tricky," then yes. Tricky!

Model Adds Much-Needed Religious Controversy to ‘ANTM’

Though I do enjoy the occasional dose of reality television – Top Chef is my schniz; still can’t believe Kevin won – I’ve always been more of an hour-long network drama type guy: following SVU detectives on the hunt for some b-list pedophile, exacerbating my already raging hypochondria with Dr. House. But after reading this essay in Tablet about Esther Petrack, the Jewish Modern Orthodox contestant on the current season of America’s Next Top Model, I may have to get my reality back on. Petrack is an interesting case. She’s an eighteen-year-old Israeli-born model who’s decided to shun Sabbath laws in order to appear in front of André Leon Talley.

The whole thing is a big controversy in the Modern Orthodox community. Should Petrack have quit the show in protest of its shooting schedule, which doesn’t allow for observance of the Sabbath? Tablet’s Dvora Myers makes a good case for why Petrack should stick to her guns, and why it’s not necessarily ANTM’s job to change its shooting schedule to suit religious contestants. I tend to agree with Myers. Petrack should be able to make her own choices about what she’s comfortable doing, and ANTM certainly wouldn’t change it’s sched to suit Christian or Muslim contestants, either. But I do see Petrack running up against some other, bigger problems as a Modern Orthodox model, like the whole “modesty” thing, which doesn’t really seem to gel with the whole, “spend my life being photographed half-naked” thing.

McQueen Denies Working with ‘ANTM”s Nicole Fox, Because That Show Is Irrelevant

It’s been a while since anyone has asked ‘where are they now?‘ about former America’s Next Top Model contestants, but it’s probably because it’s too depressing to answer. You may see them perched on a banquette at Marquee or in the pages of New York Social Diary, but it’s become evident that the only career prospering over on ANTM is Tyra Banks’s. And yet, ANTM fans still have hope! Their personal messiah? Last season’s Southern ginger Nicole Fox, who went blackface, won Cycle 13 and later beat the odds by landing a lucrative contract with Alexander McQueen. At least that was the proclamation heard around the internet, prompting the fashion house to get all “WTF are you smoking?!” and deny the fan-fueled rumors.

(‘DiggThis’)McQueen representatives told StyleList that they have “no plans to contract the services of Ms. Fox.” To soften the blow they made sure to add the ‘ol, “we wish her the best, but have had no contact with Ms. Fox or her representatives.” Way harsh.

It’s actually quite sad, as the girls work very hard to prepare themselves for the ups and downs of the industry. Perhaps soon their preparation will be used for reality and not just reality TV. Banks took her mind off the loss by keeping busy, launching a plus-sized search for models who will eventually join Fox and others in social irrelevance, and ignoring the fact that she will not be missed when she leaves The Tyra Show.

Links: Kanye’s West’s Waxy Lady, Tori Spelling vs. Mom

● Did Kanye West bring an android to the Metropolitan Opera’s 125th anniversary gala? Oh no, that’s just his new girlfriend, “model” Amber Rose. [JustJared] ● Jonah Hill is the latest student of the Judd Apatow school to be reinventing a Hollywood “favorite.” Hill is set to remake 21 Jump Street, a.k.a. the 80s show Johnny Depp wishes he’d never done. [WaMG] ● What happens when a cab overheats and someone yells “BOMB” at the America’s Next Top Model auditions in Manhattan? Pure chaos. Wonder if Tyra will do a special episode? [Youtube]

● The Spelling family feuding has bled into the book world. Publishing houses are racing to release Candy Spelling’s tell-all before her daughter Tori’s. [P6] ● We all know Hollywood’s out of ideas — see Jonah Hill story above — but some films are too perfect to revisit. Here are ten films that shouldn’t be remade. [IGN] ● Charlie Sheen bucks Hollywood’s crazy name trend by naming his twin boys Max and Bob. [AccessHollywood]

Tyra Banks Votes for America’s Next Top President

imageUnless you’re John McCain and you’ve resigned from the presidential race after realizing you shot yourself in the foot with a loose-cannon “rogue” of a VP pick, you’re probably trying to rack up some of those crucial 11th-hour celebrity endorsements. Fortunately for America’s future, Oprah’s already in the tank for Barack Obama. But another deified TV magnate, Tyra Banks, has also announced her support for the Democratic candidate. Always the political pundit, Banks says, “Throughout this historic presidential campaign, I have been inspired by Senator Barack Obama and his message of change — I believe he will uplift all Americans during these critical times. I will be voting for Obama because I feel America is not only ready for this change, we are in need of it.” And here I was thinking she’d be casting a ballot just so she can claim that free scoop at Ben and Jerry’s.