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America's Next Top Model: Isis King Says She Never Saw Elimination Coming

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Jaimie Trueblood/The CW

Isis King is a model, fashion designer, actress and America’s Next Top Model’s only transgender contestant. The cycle 11 vet wrote about returning to ANTM, where she was branded as an "inspiration" and blogs exclusively for PEOPLE about Cycle 17: All Stars.

In her farewell post, King sounds off about posing on stilts, Camille McDonald’s insensitive comments, being judged by Kristin Cavallari, and saying farewell to Tyra Banks and ANTM – again.
– Janet Mock

Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me. Here we are at the dreaded episode of my elimination. I never in a million years saw this coming.

The episode kicked off with reality TV star Kristin Cavallari stopping by our home to speak about her experiences in branding and how she stretched her reality TV fame into a career. She was very sweet and savvy, and later served as our guest judge at panel.

For our challenge, we were split into two groups of six, competing to deliver a stellar interview with Extra host Mario Lopez. While I just so happen to be drafted into the losing group (the winning team was immune from elimination), what you didn’t hear in my critique from judge Nigel Barker was that I was the most “on brand” in my group when it came to my interview with Mario.

And being that this season of ANTM is about branding, you’d think that Nigel’s comment about my performance would carry some weight. But I digress.

Continuing with the episode’s team theme, we posed in pairs for our photo shoot, where I was paired with cycle 2’s Camille McDonald, who seemed to have some insensitive things to say about me in this episode.

During cycle 11, I had to deal with ignorant comments about being a transgender woman, so I’m used to people having things to say about my transition. Yet it surprised me to hear Camille’s comments about having to show me up in the photo shoot because she’d be embarrassed that “somebody who’s transgender do better than an actual real woman.”

The world may never know what Camille’s intentions were by saying what she did. Although there is a lot of editing that goes on in the show, words can’t be placed in your mouth!

Anyway back to business: The shoot saw us all getting a view from the top on stilts! I must admit that I was a little nervous at first, but quickly achieved balance and became very ambitious in my posing. I even shot some poses with one leg up in the air – clearly you can see that I delivered a wide variety of fearless frames which I got to see for the first time on a huge monitor during the shoot.

So the low energy final photo they showed during panel was another thing that really surprised me during this episode.

I wore another of my own designs during panel: a simple, yet elegant black dress with a gray hat that I soon realized made me look like the black swan! When it came to judging with Camille, Tyra mentioned that my film got weaker and weaker. Hmmm, sounds familiar, right?

That was the exact same thing she said to me the first time I was on Top Model in cycle 11. And this time, like the last, her comments led to my elimination. But I hope you guys don’t actually think I lost a spark or didn’t deliver because as we saw in the footage that just isn’t true!

Overall, I had a pleasant experience the second time around on ANTM: All Stars: I made friends with almost every girl in the house; got to show off my fashion designs; and prove that I am more than my transition. I am disappointed that this season was supposed to be about your star quality and brand, yet the judges sent three of the biggest personalities and brand-worthy models (Brittany Brower, Sheena Sakai and myself) home first.

So what’s next for me? I am going abroad to film my first full-length film, Hello Forever, this winter. I’m excited about that because acting is apart of my life and hopefully the world will see more of that. In the meantime, stay in touch with me on Twitter @MsIsisKing and Facebook.

Bye bye (for now!),
Isis King