Dominique Reighard is a diva. The Columbus-native and former contestant on Cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model is strong-willed, opinionated, fashion-savvy, has a tendency to talk about herself in the third person and knows exactly what she wants out of life.
While many of those attributes define a true diva, Reighard is defined by more than what you would have seen on the show. She’s downright hilarious, isn’t afraid to let you in on her beauty secrets (even the ones you never thought she’d share—can you say weave?), and above everything else, she’s a dedicated, single mom of a three-year-old girl. Everything she does in life, according to Reighard, is now for her.
Despite the fact that Reighard was the tenth contestant ousted from the show, she also firmly believes that she’ll end up more successful than the winner of the show. Her confidence is surprising yet refreshing, especially after the judges not only tried to break her down pose by pose with their often harsh critiques of her modeling style, but when they focused on her features in general. Reighard readily admits that receiving comments on her look as “hard” or “transvestite like” weren’t always easy to take, especially when she knew the world was watching.
Most reality television stars claim they were “victims of editing,” but Reighard admitted to C Magazine that, “what you see, is what you get” when it comes to her sometimes over-the-top personality. While TV is known to magnify a situation, especially the funny looks she used to give the other contestants, she came out of the experience knowing there is more to her than what viewers saw on their TV screens.
You tried out five times for America’s Next Top Model. What kept you motivated to keep going back?
It was one of those things when you look at the TV and look in magazines and just everything going on in the industry and you are like, “I can do this too.” I was here in Columbus, Ohio and I was trying to find the first step to get to LA or New York. Also, I almost lost my life having my child and I decided I was going to follow my dreams after that because I want my daughter to follow her dreams. I thought I was going to be on Cycle 9 and I didn’t get called for it. So when I didn’t get the call, I got up and moved to LA.
Where did you have to go for America’s Next Top Model?
Once they called me to see if I wanted to be on the show, I was out in LA. It is funny how if you keep pushing, something will always pull though. This industry is all about selling yourself, no matter how ugly, pretty or awkward you are. After that, I moved back to Columbus, got an administrative assistant job at Polaris and waited until I got to go back to LA.
Why move back to Columbus?
Honestly, so I didn’t get stuck in a lease while I was on the show.
So you didn’t have to audition for Cycle 10?
I still had to go through and do all of the taping so they could use it for the show. It was already concrete before that. I really worked hard for it, despite meeting so many people in the industry or who were connected to the show before even getting on the show.
Do you see yourself as a celebrity?
I don’t. I look at myself like the show is just a steppingstone. I am not where I want to be in my career and life. There is so much more for me to do and learn and grow and experience. To settle now would be unsatisfying to me. I am blessed now because I am not just a model but a personality, too. There are other things that I have always wanted to venture out and do, like correspondence work and getting into acting—maybe even have my own talk show. I really want to do my own clothing line one day. I have been really thinking about it a lot lately. The options are there and I have been so blessed. It would be stupid for me not to take it and run with it and really push myself even more.
When you got on this cycle, did they ever tell you why you got picked for Cycle 10 and not Cycle 9?
It is really hard to say. It’s so funny the way they pick up. Every girl goes through extensive examinations (I mean with different psychologists and things). Maybe it was because a girl has a similar look or personality as me. So when they do this, it is strategically planned. They know who is going to clash with whom and they pretty well know what is going to happen.
When you are gone, you have no access to anything?
No…no TV… no music… you can’t sing. A lot of people look at it as being easy, but you still have to maintain your bills and everything at home. There is a lot of sacrifice that goes into it. Yeah, they give you this amazing opportunity, but you still have to prepare yourself to be able to do it. And when you are there, it is a very stressful situation and not easy. It is a stressful situation and people are beating you down with words every day. You definitely have to be really grounded with yourself. It is really difficult when you are secluded and you are being criticized like that all the time and can’t talk to your family. I’m a single mom, so it was difficult only being able to talk to them three or four times for like 15 minutes.
How long were you there?
Two and a half months.
Did you go in with a certain vision of what was going to happen to you?
You know what, I am so positive it’s insane. I went into the show thinking I was going to win. I was highly disappointed when I got eliminated. Even all the way up to when I got eliminated, I thought I was going to win. Maybe it had to do with that they put so much attention on me all the time. I got criticized the most and maybe more than all of the girls there. It didn’t bother me because I was on Talk Soup every other weekend and it got me that much more airtime. I don’t know if that was their plan for me, but I actually thought I was going to win. I’m very optimistic.
Do you feel like you were true to yourself?
OH YEAH! If anything, it forced me to be more true to myself than I would have been in the real world. There were times when people were so mean to me and a lot of the things that were said were edited out. So you didn’t know why I said the things that I did. I kept my integrity to myself. I never called anyone outside of her name. I never use curse words. I expressed how I felt. I kept it moving and I believe the show captured who I really am. I can’t say they didn’t. That is me on TV whether it is edited or not. I think you got the true essence of who I am. I like to talk a lot. I get on people’s nerves because I talk way too much. I think I am funny. Yeah, I am really confident. I don’t think I am conceited or arrogant and sometimes I am over-the-top. I do talk in the 3rd person a lot. I think it captures who I am. I was respectful to everyone. I was grateful for the opportunity and when difficult times arose, I handled them with grace and kept it going.
How did you push though all the criticism from the judges?
Well, I have to say I made them work for me and not against me. In this industry, everyone is going to have an opinion. When we met Elle MacPherson, she was telling me how in the beginning of her career she met with clients who did not like her and really brought her down. But, she made the decision to keep her attitude positive. Sometimes the same person that doesn’t like you now might like you the next time around. I think the most important thing is being grounded in this industry and not letting what people say affect how you feel or what you think and your attitude. And your attitude is the most important thing. There is nothing better than meeting someone beautiful and loving being around them. Despite what they said about me at panel, I looked inside myself. I took some things in. I made it work for me, not against me.
Was there anything you wish they wouldn’t have caught on tape?
The moments when I made the really awkward facial expressions. When people are following you around 24/7, they get you in really awkward positions.
What else did you want to gain being on the show besides winning?
I gained an amazing amount of exposure. We had billboards in New York, LA and all across the country. The show is everywhere, in 120 countries. To me, it is almost a blessing in disguise, because now I have more options versus being stuck in a contract as the winner. I make whatever I want out of my career. I made it far enough to take advantage of that.
Did you get to keep the pictures from ANTM?
Yeah, they sent me a nice book, but I am in the process of revamping my look. My website will be up, DominiqueReighard.com. I am keeping my options open as far as agencies and management. I don’t want to get stuck, because it is so easy to get stuck.
What advice would you give to someone else not in the modeling business?
Make it work for you, not against me. They called me a transvestite practically every panel and I made it work for me. Transvestites are some of the most beautiful women in the world. Half the time, you don’t even know they are transvestites. Am I offended? No. I think you are telling me I look fierce. Everyone is going to have something to say about you.
What made you interested in the industry in the first place?
I think it goes back to when I was 9 years old and I used to watch E! Television and they would have all of the backstage modeling shows. I used to make my brothers videotape me and I used to think I was Mariah Carey, but better. I would play it back and watch and study myself.
How would you describe your own sense of style?
I’m a diva. I’m so over-the-top, I can’t help it. I love anything that is different. I love big hair. I love to wear high heels all day long, and even when I was pregnant, I wore high heels. I love dressing up and wearing make-up. My favorite part about going out is getting ready. My friends can’t stand me. After we get all diva-fied and go out, I am ready to go home after about 15 minutes. I love accessories, high heels and I got my weave back after they cut my hair really short on the show. Now I feel good about myself.
You have five minutes to get ready for a night out. What are the three signature pieces you grab.
The perfect high heel, the cutest little vintage clutch bag and my makeup.
You are in the middle of a photo shoot. How do you stay focused?
I think the biggest thing is just connecting. Sometimes you have to put things aside. What I do when I’m in the middle of a photo shoot and it’s not going well is go outside and scream as loud as I can. I do some jumping jacks and come back in.
What is the best advice you got from Tyra on the show?
Tyra always talked about turning it off and on—being an actress in front of the camera. She used to always say, “Soften it up, Dominique.” They always told me I had such strong features.
Do you feel like living in Columbus has helped or hindered your career?
It has not hindered my career. It’s all about the person. Like I said, as long as I have my computer and the Internet, the sky is the limit. Before I started traveling, I worked with a lot of local photographers here. If it is really something you want, you can find a way to keep it moving. I don’t think there are any excuses. It has all been done before!
Where in Columbus did you grow up?
The Bexley area.
Print or runway?
Prada or Gucci?
I love D2.
1st person or 3rd person?
Diva or princess?
My daughter is the princess; I’m the diva.