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Interview With Amanda Swafford of America’s Next Top Model 3

by aurora

There’s no doubt about it – Amanda took some amazingly beautiful photos during her stint on ANTM. And anyone who lists ‘The Daily Show’ and crab cakes among her favourite things must be pretty cool!

Hi Amanda! What prompted you to try modeling? Have you always wanted to be a model?

Always, always, always! Since I was three years old I’ve wanted to model.

So your parents must have some great photos of you growing up then!

Oh yeah, I was striking a pose at an early age.

There was a great deal of attention placed on your eyesight, yet not a lot of information was given on your condition. Can you tell us a bit about it?

I noticed that too – they always put in that I couldn’t see, but then never explained anything! The condition is called Retinus Pigmentosa, and it’s a degenerative eye disease. Technology is coming very close to finding a cure though; they’re about three or four years away from that, so there’s a lot of hope for me.

I’m completely night blind, and during the day it’s kind of like looking through a donut. I can see straight ahead, but my peripheral vision is erratic. It’s hard to explain, because people think that if I can see straight ahead of me there’s nothing wrong with me.

How difficult has it been to prepare yourself for the eventuality of becoming completely blind?

Well I found out about my condition at the age of fourteen. It’s a difficult age anyway, so as I was going through all the hormonal stuff I was dealing with this as well. I’ve had lots of time to prepare though, and now that the denial and anger is over and I’m older now, I almost see it as a blessing.

I appreciate things much more now, as you saw on the show. I see things as good and positive, otherwise it would all just be so depressing.

Tell us more about your son – how did he deal with your being away for so long?

His name is Elijah, and he’s two and a half. We’re actually watching Finding Nemo now. He’s a very loving child.

At that age though, you know, time isn’t really a concept. So I don’t think he realized just how long I was away. Then when I came home, he didn’t recognize me because of the blond hair! He didn’t run up and hug me, which was sad for me. But he came around. It didn’t affect him negatively at all.

From one mom to another, how the heck did you get your tummy so flat after childbirth?

I don’t know! I gained 63 pounds during pregnancy! I’ve always had tight abs though, so I think that was part of it. And then breastfeeding helps you take the weight right off. I guess I’m just lucky! I’ve only ever done like 100 situps in my life.

Who were you closest with in the house?

During the show it morphed from Kelle to Nicole to Yaya; as people are eliminated you just get closer to who you’re stuck with. Now that the show has finished filming though, I’m closest with Ann. We talk every day.

You obviously faced some unique challenges due to your eyesight, but what was the biggest challenge you had to overcome aside from that, during the course of the show?

Being away from my son. I missed him terribly and had to force myself not to concentrate on how much I missed him. I really had to make an effort to put it out of my mind and focus on the modeling. It was hard to accept that I’m not any less of a good mother for not destroying myself for being away from him.

I missed his birthday, I missed Mother’s Day – it was hard. I tried not to complain about it too much though. I’m not going to say who, but someone told me to shut up a couple of times about my son. And I was like, “But I’ve only mentioned him twice today!”

How do you feel about the way you were edited?

I’m basically fine with it. I did what I did, I said what I said. The only thing I didn’t like was that they had “I’m legally blind” before every sentence. That’s just a small part of who I am – I’m so much more than that.

I’m just a goofy, retarded person, dancing and singing and trying to have fun. I’m glad they showed that. But you have to be that way – it’s a 24/7 competition, and if you can’t have fun you’ll go insane.

Early on in the cycle, Nigel said that no agency would hire a model who is about to go blind.

Yes, and he was wrong!

Right! But do you think that opinion had anything to do with the reason you were eliminated at final three?

I don’t think so. I hope not! It was a really hard decision for them. Maybe because in person I’m just trying to be myself and not trying to be a “model”. I’m nice, respectful, and funny, but I don’t have the overpowering attitude that some of the others had.

I don’t think that my vision had anything to do with it. I’d rather think it was my age! I’ve already got agencies lined up though, so I’m not hurting at all.

Will you continue to try and raise awareness for others with vision problems?

Oh gosh yes! Aside from my son and my career, that is one thing that is very important to me. I will continue to raise awareness, money, and respect for people with disabilities; people who are ‘different’.

What was the most important thing you learned about yourself during the course of the show?

That I need to stop thinking of others before myself. I need to let the world go on around me and not try to make everything better for everyone. I need to focus on making me better, and that in turn will make things better for those close to me.

Thank you so much for your time Amanda, and I want to wish you the best of luck with your modeling career!

Thanks Carrie – and give your little one a hug for me!

Comments are welcome! Contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.


Freelance writer, webmaster of realityshack.com, chief editor at applemagazine.com, contribtor to TechLife News and maketecheasier.com, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.