April 24, 2012

Watchman the first Native supermodel?

Mariah Watchman: Native Supermodel in the Making

By Adrian JawortSince her appearance on Tyra Banks’ show America’s Next Top Model, Mariah Watchman has become a household name and inspiration for Native women throughout Indian country. Watchman grew up in a variety of locations, but counts the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation as her home. ICTMN caught up with the ravishing 20-year-old during a break as she tutored other aspiring local Native models prior to a Native American fashion event that took place in March in Billings, Montana.Until someone wrote about her appearance on America’s Next Top Model, I'd never heard of Watchman. I'd guess she's neither a household name nor an inspiration for most Native women.Did you feel additional pressure in representing Native women in America’s Next Top Model?

Yes. When I went to my very first casting, my very first goal right off the bat was to let them know, ‘I want to be the first Native American female to compete in America’s Next Top model.’ I went in there and told them how I spoke my language, how I grew up on reservations, I bead, I fish salmon with my family off of the Colombia River, how we go to pow wows, and at our grandpa’s is our sweat lodge. But being the first Native on the show, I felt like I had a huge pressure. I wasn’t just representing myself, I was representing a Nation. I was representing Indian country. I’ve been an international model for five years, and I wasn’t just trying to go on tv and act disrespectful, and tarnish or ruin my reputation. I definitely felt a lot of pressure to maintain and be well-behaved.
Does that explain the ridiculous Pocahontas outfit she agreed to wear? Hmm.What are your other plans for the future?

I’m very business savvy, and I’d like to be a business owner with my t-shirt line. But about being the first Native American supermodel, when I got eliminated on the second episode of Top Model, when I was walking away, Tyra told me, “You may not be America’s Top Model, but you can be the first Native American supermodel ever.” She knew that was my goal and dream as well. And if Tyra Banks told me I can be the first Native American supermodel ever, I took that and believed in myself with all confidence I will achieve that goal.
Comment:  Watchman couldn't get past the second round of the show, but she's gonna become a supermodel? I'll counterpredict that she won't become a supermodel.

For more on the subject, see Umatilla Model Supports Crow Candidate and Watchman Exits America's Next Top Model.

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