Laura Kostelny Chats With True Beauty Winner and Dallas Girl Julia Anderson
Our snarky reality TV blogger discovers that some reality TV stars are, well, nice.
One of the main reasons I like reality television so much is that it gives me the opportunity to point and judge—two thing I enjoy more than long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain. No show lent itself more to derision than ABC’s True Beauty. The premise: a group of great-looking people are judged—both inside and out—by three judges who are neither great-looking nor all that nice: Cheryl Tiegs, Nolé Marin, and Vanessa Minillo. An episode might include a photo shoot followed by a “challenge” wherein the contestants encounter a woman being shoved into a van by Ted Bundy (not an actual example, but you get the idea). Depending on the combination of hotness and benevolence, the model wannabes either got kicked off or lived to see another day.
The twist: the contestants didn’t know that “inner beauty” was being considered. They just thought that Los Angeles was inundated with blind people in need of their help, I guess.
Anyway, I was very much looking forward to talking to True Beauty winner Julia Anderson because the show was so bad. But here’s the thing: she’s a truly nice, earnest girl. And I have a hard time with earnest. So, if you’re looking for snark, go back and reread the first two paragraphs.
Anderson grew up in Fort Worth, and she lives in Las Colinas with her boyfriend, whom she was dating when she went on the show. “He actually took care of my dogs,” she says. “He was so supportive—and he doesn’t get jealous.”
As to how she ended up on the show, she’s not exactly a newbie. She tried out for Beauty and the Geek but didn’t get the gig. This time, she tried out at a bar on McKinney Avenue.
“I was a full-time student with three part-time jobs, and I had the day off. I took it as a sign,” she says. “When I got there, no one was there. I thought ‘Gosh, what am I doing?’ The whole thing was like, ‘Are you gorgeous? Does everyone stare at you when you walk in the room?’” She says the show was sold as “The Great American Beauty”—a mix of America’s Next Top Model and a beauty pageant.
Anderson is a beauty pageant veteran, so she was a lock.
Unfortunately, due to contracts these people sign, Anderson could tell me very little about the living conditions. Here’s what I gleaned: no cell phones, no music, no television, no contact with the outside world. And the producers aren’t exactly worried about people’s brains turning to mush. While they took away Anderson’s Bible, they brought in some coloring books. Seriously.
Boredom can sometimes lead to sexual tension, but Anderson says that while there was some flirtation, nothing major went down. And she stayed out of those situations completely. “I didn’t want to get involved in the drama,” she says. “I kept my head in the game.”
So, with no sex, music, literature, or really anything to distract them, why didn’t anyone catch on to the “inner beauty” aspect of the game? “We were all pretty paranoid,” she says. “ We thought they were just trying to push our buttons. Just to make us insane.”
Since winning the show, Anderson has been a correspondent on The Tyra Banks Show (Tyra and Ashton Kutcher produced the show), and she and the boyfriend are moving to LA to break into show business. “I want to do it all,” she says. “I, of course, want to be a correspondent because it’s about being yourself. I’d like to act, be a spokesperson, anything—as long as I’m paying my bills.”
Would she ever do reality television again? “No,” she says initially. “Well, it depends. If I got to listen to music, and keep in touch with friends and family. … Under better circumstances, I might.”
And while I suspect we will see the charming and sweet Julia again, I pray it won’t be on Rock of Love Bus or any other VH-1 program. For her sake.