TVLand’s reality series, She’s Got the Look (SGTL) (Wednesdays, 10 p.m.) sets out to prove that wine and cheese aren’t the only things that get better with age. On SGTL, now in its third season, beauties, all over the age of 35, compete for a contract Wilhelmenia Models and photo spread in Self Magazine.
For the next few weeks, The Ride will be chatting with some of the contestants about their views on beauty, the show, and what the phrase, “She’s Got the Look” means to them.
On the Runway: Kathleen Neumann, 41
Kathleen, an insurance agent from Livonia, Michigan, always surrounded herself with fashion magazines and dreamed of becoming a model despite being a mere 5’5. After spending 16 years raising her son, she “now wants to spread her wings.”
The Ride: Congrats on becoming a finalist for She’s Got the Look Season 3! I wouldn’t have the courage to audition. What motivated you to audition for the show?
Kathleen: The economy in Michigan has been…and still is horrible. My survival instincts kicked in and a girlfriend encouraged me to go. I am a single mother and this was an opportunity I never thought I would have had to start something new and be successful at it. Also, I liked showing my son…take a chance and it could change your life…and so I did!
The Ride: What was the audition process like for you?
Kathleen: I have never modeled or done anything in the entertainment industry. I have been in the corporate world since graduating college. I jumped into auditions headfirst. I had never watched the previous 2 seasons. Everyone I spoke to were talking about past episodes, women on the prior seasons, all of their modeling experience…ugh…I was there and I had my courage on! I went for it.
When I was called back to do an on-camera interview the next morning, I was out of my mind excited and very proud of myself. My drive from Detroit to Columbus had already become a huge adventure. My on-camera interview went remarkably smooth considering I had never been filmed before. My interviewer was very good at making me not even think about the camera. I floated home back to Detroit! I was then called back for the “physical, medical, therapist, etc.” weekend. That was my first experience with being sequestered and all alone in a room until I was called and told to go to an appointment and return to my room. It was all beyond exciting. I did feel “pint sized” I even had a casting person say “wow you are short” [smiles] 5’6 standing tall!
The callback to LA as one of the final 20 came a week after my aunt had passed away from brain cancer. When I went to Columbus, she was fine. Three weeks later she had passed away. I was not in the same place I was at the prior castings. I had been hit with a tragedy. I packed up and took off to LA. My aunt would have been totally excited about it and I felt her with me. When I made the final 10, I felt like I had been truly blessed and was the luckiest girl in the world!
The Ride: What was it like to stand before the judges (SGTL vets Wilhemenia Models president, Sean Patterson and celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. Newcomers SGTL host and model Brooke Burke and model and runway coach Roshumba Williams) on the show? They are a tough group!
Kathleen: It was intimidating to be in front of the judging panel. Sean told me I looked petrified up there. My feet hurt really badly! I was sporting the highest heels I could so I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb…so I turned into a sore foot! [smile] I have a “corn” from it. Those were LONG days but I really felt the judges were supportive and built me up in so many ways. You only get to see a small part of those days on the show. I had the time of my life there and it was so good to laugh and laugh with 9 women who remain near and dear to me and I am sure always will! I don’t have anything negative to say about the judges. I think they were great. I was still just happy to be there.
The Ride: In the past, when you looked into the mirror, what or who did you see?
Kathleen: Hmmmm [smiles]. I was a little heavier in my high school years. That’s the way the ball bounces in my family. After giving birth to my son at 24, I was in my best shape ever. I have always worked out and taken care of my skin. I didn’t grow up feeling like a model or a beauty queen. A lot of my beauty came out as I matured into a woman. It just keeps getting better. I have more of an athletic build and have always had to work at maintaining my figure. I have been on a diet since I was 11! [smiles]
The Ride: Now that you’ve been on She’s Got the Look, how has the perception of yourself changed, if it has at all?
Kathleen: My confidence Is at an all time high. I do think I am beautiful both inside and out! I feel great!
The Ride: And I must ask, what does the phrase, “She’s Got the Look” mean to you?
Kathleen: It means women become more beautiful with life experiences, loss, love, motherhood, faith, self confidence and all of that comes with years. I feel “she’s got the look” said to me, “Kathleen, you are like a fine wine. You will only get better with age.” [smiles] True that!
The Ride: I’m practically addicted to America’s Next Top Model. I learned from Miss Tyra Banks how to “smize” — smile with your eyes. What are some things you’ve learned about modeling and/or how to model that you didn’t know before?
Kathleen: Oh boy. Had I not been dealing with my aunt in hospice I am sure I would have taken a cram course or looked to get advice about modeling. I had none. I never thought at 5’6 I would ever have the opportunity. I watched America’s Next Top Model but I never tried to “smize” or anything like that. I didn’t even know to point my toes until I was looking at a picture while in front of the judging panel. I was truly a model virgin. I needed Modeling 101 big time!
The Ride: What are some of your beauty secrets? (I selfishly ask).
Kathleen: I park in the farthest parking spot I can when going anywhere. I also take the cart back into the store when I have one. I use the highest SPF I can find — I have 100 now. I wear a hat. I don’t tan, bottom line. I did in my 20’s and wish I could take back. I eat very healthy with the exception of those few hormonal days in which I love my chocolate. My dog is my exercise partner. She is 110 lbs. and so am I. We go to the dog park daily where I speed walk more than run but do jog too. Winter is even better because we love to hike in the snow. I am as active as I can be as often as I can be. I have been using eye cream obsessively since I was 18!
The Ride: Okay, I think it’s time to talk about the dreaded “PS” – not postscript but plastic surgery. Is it “Yes, do what you need to do to look good for you”, or “No, au natural all the way. “Love me, wrinkles and all” or “I’m kind of somewhere in between?”
Kathleen: I say do what you want to make you feel the best you can. I love that I live in an age that at 55 I can “tweak”. I have had my breasts done. after nursing my son before the days of plug-in pumps…Oy vey. I had a manual breast pump that stretched my boob out to be a foot long. I had one A cup and one B cup. My boobs were hit hard. I don’t regret having them evened out and put back where they were supposed to be. I think some go overboard. I don’t love my wrinkles but I have them. You have to have a lot of cash for plastic surgery. Something I don’t have with the economy like it is. [laughs]
The Ride: Since you are a fabulous doll of a certain age, I’m sure that you have younger people who look to you for guidance and older ones for inspiration. Do you have any words of wisdom for them?
Kathleen: Love yourself. Beauty does start from within and radiates out! Stay out of the sun and no tanning beds. Use your legs. Choose that farthest spot and walk. Love a lot. Laugh a lot. Cry a lot. Don’t bottle things up. If you need a workout partner hit your local humane society! They give back ten fold. Soul food is what pets are. Fall in love with your children when you become a mother. It doesn’t get any better than that!