by DAVE FUMAROLA
Can America’s Next Top Model be a guy? That’s the question viewers have been asking since ANTM introduced male contestants in Cycle 20. The answer to this question just might be found in current contestant Will Jardell.
He’s not as muscular or as rugged as the other male models on ANTM, but it only makes him stand out from the pack. Will has a grace the other male models are lacking. He’s not exactly androgynous, but he moves in a way that is neither masculine nor feminine. This can no doubt be chalked up to his dance background.
“Dance is a HUGE part of my family’s life,” says Will. “I didn’t start dancing until I was fifteen years old, but because it’s in my blood, I caught on really quickly and my mom trained me one on one.” With extra coaching from Mom, Will was able to catch on quickly enough to step up to the level of the other more seasoned dancers on his team.
During college in Texas, Will began choreographing and became involved with several different dance organizations. “I love interacting with kids,” he says of his time teaching dance to three and four year olds as a college student.
You wouldn’t know it from watching him on television, but Will was very shy growing up. It’s one of the main reasons he didn’t start dancing at a younger age. “There’s a stigmatism that male dancers are gay and I didn’t want to be put in that box.”
Modeling is something Will always wanted to try, but he had to put it on the backburner during college. “I love science. I’m kind of a huge nerd.” Will’s degree is in biomedical science, so he didn’t have much time to travel to modeling agencies. “My senior year of college I decided that I didn’t really want to go with my degree, so I just ended up finishing and then a week after I finished school I started visiting modeling agencies.” It was while he was exploring different modeling options that he got the call from Top Model, and things have been taking off for him since then.
Will was already very familiar with Top Model, having seen every cycle more than once. Before going on the show, Will watched Cycle 20 another three times. While he is fond of several past contestants, his hands down favorite is Allison Harvard of Cycle 12 and Cycle 17, who came in second place both times. “She’s just so interesting and fun looking. I loved her on the show. I’ve since met her and she’s a really great person.”
Will assures us that everything we see on ANTM is 100% real. “Every situation was pretty much exactly how it happened, probably just a little bit shorter than what it really was in real life.” Those who have been tuning in have already seen Will’s kiss with hunky heterosexual model Matthew Smith and the photo shoots that only seem to get more outlandish with each passing week.
However, it hasn’t been all fun and games in the Top Model house. After wearing heels around the house, Will heard fellow contestant Denzel Wells say his friends would never let him live it down if he lost to a guy in heels. “I think he didn’t think anyone was listening and obviously I didn’t really want to be listening.” Will was in another room, but overheard the situation and what other people were saying, which is why it escalated to a big enough issue that Tyra had to comment on it at the judging panel. “Other than that, I didn’t really feel that people were hating on me or hating on the community.” Generally, Will found everyone to be very accepting. “Obviously Tyra and everyone that works on the show are super supportive and want you to be yourself and grow as a person.” He found the experience to be very rewarding. “It was just that one little incident didn’t make me very happy.”
We just saw one of the eliminated models reenter the competition, which Will describes as surprising and exciting. It also made Will and the other models a little mad as they had to redo another week of the competition to get rid of another contestant. Speaking of the eliminated contestants, Will clarified that they do their photo shoots at a different time than the rest of the models, but on the same day. The models never get to watch the eliminated contestants’ photo shoots.
Will has stayed in close contact with his fellow cast members and actually currently lives with Raelia Lewis in Los Angeles. “They’ve become some of my really close friends and that’s what I’m really thankful for.”
What’s next for Will? “I’ve just been pursuing my career as a model and doing as much as possible to build my portfolio.” Staying true to his love of dance, Will is currently working at a dance studio in L.A. “Still being in the competition, we’re under contract and we can’t do a lot of things.” Right now, Will is just playing the waiting game.
Tune in to America’s Next Top Model on Friday nights on The CW to see if Will can survive Tyra’s crazy shenanigans and take home the prize. “It’s going to get a lot more interesting, I can guarantee that.”