Interview with 'America's Next Top Model' contestant Paige Mobley

Just when we thought we had seen the last of reality TV competition America’s Next Top Model it gets a new life with new host Rita Ora, a new set of judges including model Ashley Graham, celebrity stylist Law Roach and Creative Director of Paper Magazine Drew Elliott at its new home of VH1 for Cycle 23.  That’s not to write that creator and executive producer Tyra Banks will not be popping in from time to time.  In fact, she was on the scene for the premiere on Dec. 12 to tell the contestants that being a model is so much more than just being a pretty face.

Enter contestant 22-year-old contestant Paige Mobley.  She looks like a typical girl next door,  but she has a lot going on behind her lovely blue eyes. After spending a few years at Pace University in New York City working on her BFA, she transferred to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she is currently completing her studies in Theater Arts. She has had some acting gigs and has hosted a show in Japan called ZIP TV as well as a Roku travel series called First Experiences. She is passionate about mental health awareness and is working to end the stigma involving mental illness in the United States.

Mobley took the time to chat with about her life, what to look forward to in this season of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 23 and what’s next for her.  While she isn’t allowed to tell us how far she got, after watching the premiere, it is a safe bet that she will be around for a while. Where are you from?

Paige Mobley: I'm originally from Birmingham, Michigan. So it's a kind of smallish town about 20 minutes north of Detroit.

TCC: Where do you live now?

PM:  I currently live in Los Angeles.

TCC:  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

PM: I am 22 years old. I went to school in New York City for musical theater at Pace University and now I go to school at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and I study theater arts now at Loyola. And aside from being a model, I'm also a host and an actress and I one day hope to be a theater teacher.

TCC:  Nice goals. So you've studied musical theater. What are your favorite musicals?

PM:  Oh, wow. That's a good question. I would have to say my favorite musical of all time is probably In the Heights, which is written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It was the first show he did before he did Hamilton. So he's super popular now, but back in the day before he sort of blew up and became this household name, he wrote a show called In the Heights.

TCC:  I saw that one myself, too. I liked it very much.

PM:  Oh, really? That's awesome. Yeah, I loved it.

TCC:  What's your dream role?

PM:  Oh, dream role. Probably Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. I have yet to play that part and I've always wanted to. Because I'm blond,= and the whole tall and sort of ditzy character would be really fun to play. So yeah, definitely Elle Woods.

TCC:  Tell me about your family.

PM:  My father is a celebrity portrait photographer. And he pretty much has been a photographer my whole life so I was born and raised sort of around the whole modeling and photography thing. My mom is the manager of Paul Mobley Studio. So her and my dad work together. And then I have an older sister who is a wedding planner, a pretty successful wedding planner in San Francisco.

TCC:  What do you like to do in your free time?

PM:  In my free time, I like to bake and cook. I love swimming. And obviously, hanging out with my roommate who's my best friend and my sister too.

TCC:  Here's another big question for you. Are you single?

PM:  No. I have a boyfriend [laughter].

TCC:  What led you to try out for America's Next Top Model?

PM:  It actually sort of fell in my lap serendipitously. A few years ago, I was reached out to by a casting producer or someone in casting. They approached me about cycle 22. And when they approached me I was super excited and I kind of went through the application process and I ended up not getting on cycle 22. And I had gotten through a really, really, really long application process with them. So I was sort of like, 'Oh, wow. I'm totally going to get on.' And then I didn't. And then, as if I couldn't be more defeated, the show got canceled. And they made the big announcement that Tyra was going to be doing it for the last time and that the show was over. And so I was super bummed. Then fast forward a little bit, about a year, and they make this huge announcement that Top Model has been picked back up by VH1. Almost overnight I was contacted again and just went through the application process once more and ended up on the show.

TCC:  How tall are you?

PM:  I am 5'11". I am pretty tall [laughter].

TCC:  Now, for those who don't know, what is America's Next Top Model?

PM:  America's Next Top Model is a staple in reality television, especially in reality competition television. Been around since 2003 and it is a modeling competition that deals with all of the fame, pressures and challenges that models in the modeling industry deal with today. Started by Tyra Banks and Bankable Productions and now that she is no longer the host of the show, she's still staying on as executive producer. And so it's started by a huge and famous successful super-model and it stays true to that. It's definitely a really fun show to watch. And be a part of, for sure.

TCC:  Where and when can people see it?

PM:  People will be able to see it on VH1 and it'll be airing every Monday for fourteen weeks at 10 p.m./9 p.m. central.

TCC:  And what are the prizes?

PM: Ooh, the prizes. This year the prizes on Top Model are a one-year VH1 talent contract, a commercial with Rimmel-London and $100,000.

TCC:  Nice.

PM:  Yeah. Good prizes [laughter].

TCC:  Do you know who some of the famous former contestants are?

PM:  I'm trying to think. Who is the more— I'm trying to think of some of the more reputable former contestants, but for me, my personal favorite is CariDee English. She's gone on to do some really awesome stuff. Another supermodel, Winnie Harlow, was also on Top Model a few seasons ago.

TCC:  I remember CariDee. She does a lot of charity work too.

PM:  Yeah. Everyone's such a huge fan of CariDee. She's definitely one of my favorite winners.

TCC:  Now, when did this season tape?

PM:  We filmed over the summer.


TCC:  Now, when you go on the show, what are you allowed to bring with you?  When you go to the show, what are you allowed to bring with you to the house? Can you bring everything or are you allowed only one bag?

PM: Oh, yeah. No, you're allowed to bring as much as you'd like. Yeah, when we moved into the house we all brought our own clothes and things. Everybody had their own specific fun, cool style, so that was really exciting to sort of get to swap clothes with everyone. It was kind of like living in a big sorority house and we all got to mix and match.

TCC:  How many bathrooms are inside house?

PM:  You know, I don't know exactly remember how many bathrooms, but not enough. Let's put it that way [laughter].

TCC:  Now in early seasons of the show they did a makeover day. Did they do that this season?

PM:  You'll have to wait and see, because there are a lot of changes to this new cycle of Top Model. This new season is kind of a revamp and a new generation. It's kind of up in the air. There's going to be a lot of really fun surprises, so fans will just have to wait and see if the makeover episode made it through and actually happens.


TCC:  Let's dish on the other contestants. Are there any fights or rivalries that make it worthwhile?

PM:  Oh, yes. For sure. There's definitely a lot of drama and there's a ton of fun little nuances and things that go in within the house that I think fans are really going to enjoy watching unfold. Everyone has their own quirk about them that definitely gets played up while on the show and so it's going to be really fun and exciting to sort of watch that all unfold on TV. But yeah, there's definitely a lot of fights and drama and things like that. All of the stuff that you love about Top Model is still very much alive within this new, revamped season.

TCC:  Now without naming any names, are there any girls that you really didn't like?

PM:  I can't say.

TCC:  Okay [laughter]. What were some of the challenges?

PM:  Ooh, I can't say that either [laughter].

TCC:  Who are the judges?

PM:  It's a completely new judging panel this season. So we start off the judging panel with our new host Rita Ora. She's an international singer, she's an entrepreneur, she's a business woman and she's definitely the right person to sort of step into the hosting role. She covers so many different areas of the entertainment industry, not only just modeling, but I think that it's kind of cool to have a new host that is really well rounded in that way. And then, next up on the judging panel is famous plus-size supermodel, Ashley Graham. She is wildly successful right now in the United States and internationally. She was the first plus-size cover [model] for Sports Illustrated of the swimsuit edition, which is a huge deal and she has her foot in the fashion industry at all times, so she's a really, really good person to be giving guidance and definitely judging us. Then you've got Law Roach, who is celebrity stylist, fashion stylist to the stars. He's styled Zendaya, Ruby Rose, a bunch of others, Celine Dion and he lives and breaths fashion. So everything from the way that you look, the way that you dress, he's all about it. And finally, we have Drew. And Drew Elliott is the Creative Director of Paper Magazine so he is behind all of the super famous Paper Magazine covers that you've seen recently like the one of Kim Kardashian where she's got the champagne bottle that is spilling onto the champagne glass [laughter] that's on her booty. He's behind that. He came up with that concept and stuff, so it's just really super cool to have this panel of everyone that's really huge in the fashion industry and in New York. It definitely is a very well rounded panel for sure.

TCC:  I love the Ashley Graham SI ad where the guy is falling the pool!

Image result for Ashley Graham ad

PM:  Oh, she's great. And she's so sweet. She's like the nicest human being, super humble.

TCC:  That's good to know. So, you don't really have any fun dirt on any of the judges [laughter]?

PM:  No, and the thing is our relationship with the judges, it definitely grows throughout the season and I think that as much as audience members are really going to get to know contestants, they're also really going to get know the judges too. And their stories, and where they come from and their backgrounds and it's almost kind of exciting because you get to meet the contestants and fall in love with them and root for them, but you start to fall in love with the judges as well we all did, for sure. And so I have a feeling that fans are really going to start to love them and get to know their stories, too, which is really cool.

TCC:  Sounds good. I like that it's a new cast, so everything could be different. I did read that Tyra Banks makes a few appearances. Can you give any insight as to what she does on the show?

PM:  Yeah, the first time that we met Tyra— because I don't think any of us were expecting to meet Tyra at all because we all knew that there was going to be a complete sort of clean sweep of the judges. So when we found out that Tyra was going to be meeting us in the first episode, we were so excited. And she came out and she gave us an awesome pep talk and she just told us that the modeling industry is changing and that it's not so much just about being a pretty face anymore. You have to be a business and a boss and a brand. And that's sort of the platform that this entire new season stands on, is creating models that aren't just a pretty face. And so she definitely comes in and trickles her words of advice, but that opening was really, really special and very inspiring because we thought she wasn't going to be around. So it was really, really cool to have her come in and give us that kind of advice.

TCC:  What can we look forward to in this season?

PM:  I think fans and audience members can really look forward to the special guests. We have so many special guest appearances on this new season of Top Model. It blows my mind. Week after week after week with new, exciting celebrities such as DJ Khaled, celebrity and supermodel Chanel Iman, Jason Derulo, we had Amber Rose, who is, I mean, amazing! She dated Kanye, she has her own TV show on VH1. So every single week there's a new, exciting, fresh face and somebody that is really popular right now in pop culture. And I think that adds to every episode. So I think that fans are really really going to love that because it's all relevant, cool, pop culture celebrities and I loved meeting them as much as I think fans are going to love seeing them.

TCC:  Who are some of your favorite designers?

PM:  I wear a lot of BCBG and Max Azria. Tons of my clothing is BCBG Max Azria and I love, obviously, Karl Lagerfeld, but that's a given. And I actually like Jeremy Scott of Moschino, he's so exciting and fun and every new season he comes out with something so creative and different. I look forward to it because his stuff is really theatrical and I'm really theatrical. I went to school for theater and stuff, so I look forward to seeing what he puts out there.

TCC:  Now I haven't heard about too many models going on to higher education. Do you think it's changing now?

PM:  Yeah. Absolutely. Especially with what Tyra said to us about boss, business and brand and about a model being more than a pretty face. I think that it is important to obviously get a higher education and put a lot of value in that. It's something that I'm going to have long after my looks have faded. It's important to me to not only love to model and want to be a model, but also have a job that— or a career, that after the looks fade can sustain me forever. And that's why I love children and I'd love to be a teacher someday.

TCC:  So what other shows have you been on?

PM:  In terms of acting and things and hosting, I've done some spokesperson work on The Ellen Degeneres Show. I hosted a morning TV show in Japan, called Zip TV, which is always a weird one, people are like, 'You hosted in Japan?' I also did a small part on Gossip Girl. I had a small part in the last Transformers movie, Age of Extinction. So, yeah, I've had one hand in the entertainment industry at all times. Just growing up around my father and his part in the entertainment world and then always sort of wanting to be a performer. But now I feel like with this Top Model, it's a whole different level.

TCC:  Do you speak Japanese?

PM:  I do not speak Japanese. They actually dubbed over my voice [laughter], thankfully.

TCC:  I think that there was another travel show that you may have hosted? Is that right?

PM:  Yes, I hosted First Experiences, which was a small travel show on Roku which is, I think, online— it's like a Netflix type thing.

TCC:  Can any of those videos be found on YouTube?

PM:  Yes, yes. Totally. I have a YouTube channel and I usually post some of my— I like to call it my little online reel and my online portfolio of different things that I've been in. But, yeah, I like to put things online so that people can find it and check it out.

TCC: How can your fans find you?

PM:  My fans can find me either by just Googling Paige Mobley, or looking up the name Paige Mobley. My name is the same all across the board - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Just Paige Mobley, spelled out P-A-I-G-E M-O-B-L-E-Y.

TCC:  What do you hope that 2017 will bring to you?

PM:  New opportunities, definitely. I'd love to get some more hosting jobs and get some more modeling jobs from this and just more opportunities, more open doors. And I'm really looking forward to what the Top Model community will bring, for sure.

TCC:  What are some causes or charities that you support?

PM:  I'm a self-proclaimed mental health advocate so I am all about trying to end the stigma involving mental illness in the United States. And I support pretty much any charity that has to do with mental illness. I'm in the process currently of starting my own nonprofit that actually will help aid and support families that cannot afford mental health assistance.

TCC:  What are your plans for the holidays?

PM:  I plan on going home to Michigan and seeing all of my friends from high school [laughter] and doing all the things that I do usually whenever I go home to Michigan, like eat Coney Dogs - which is so lame, but so true. And they're so delicious. And yeah, just see my family and friends. It's kind of nice to be able to check out from the LA life and everything, and just go home and get back to my roots and be around all my Midwestern folk.

TCC: Well, best of luck, to you and are you allowed to say how far you went on the show?

PM:  No, I can't. I haven't even told my parents [laughter].

Be sure to catch Paige Mobley and the rest of the contestants and personalities on America’s Next Top Model every Mondays on VH1.


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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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