Anyone who watches America’s Next Top Model can agree that the blockbuster reality-TV phenomenon became even more entertaining and — dare we say, “must-see” — when Tyra Banks introduced male models into the mix just two seasons ago. One of our favourite guys from the current Cycle 21 season is the tall, dark, and oh-so handsome Matthew Smith.
He might already be out of the running for the ANTM crown, but his now famous “showmance” with fellow contestant Will Jardell (not to mention Kelly Cutrone and Banks’ obsession with his enviable bone structure) has made him Top Model legend — an iconic reality TV dreamboat for the social media generation, if you will. But America’s loss is Canada’s gain, at least as far as we’re concerned. We had the pleasure of catching up with Smith backstage at World MasterCard Fashion Week here in Toronto. We can confirm that he’s even more hot, hilarious, and likable in person. But why take our word for it? Check out our interview with Smith below to see for yourself…
We were very sad while watching America’s Next Top Model last week to discover that you didn’t get voted back onto Cycle 21…
It was a heartbreaker, and I had to relive it.
Did you model prior to being on the show?
Yes. I had to really downplay it for the show. They didn’t want it to seem unfair because a lot of the other people had not modeled at all. It’s been about four years for me though. I’ve done runway shows in LA, and global campaigns for Robin’s Jean in 2012. I’ve done a lot of TV: Face Off, New Girl, The Young and the Restless, and Joan Knows Best for two years. They didn’t really want to talk about that too much, which makes sense. And truth be told, having real modeling experience doesn’t really do much for you on [America’s Next Top Model]. It’s its own animal – very theatrical. I told Tyra – I kind of gave her grief – like, “You’re a supermodel. Have you ever done runway on stilts? I don’t know if that happens too often.” But it was fun, and I learned a lot.
Have you found the experience beneficial to your career yet?
Completely. I’ve worked a lot. It’s hit or miss whether people recognize me or not, but Top Model has completely blown up. I didn’t know that it played in 186 countries, for instance.
The male contestants on the last two seasons of America’s Next Top Model have actually made it more interesting from an industry perspective because the men seem to have a better chance of being legitimate working models afterwards. We’ve seen some of the guys work New York Fashion Week already, for instance. It’s normal for guys to start modeling in their 20s, whereas girls often need to start younger (and Top Model contestants obviously need to be a minimum of 18 years old).
My career has actually increased with age. I’m able to grow a full beard, for instance. Like you said, a lot of campaign men are either really young, like 15 or 16, or in that greyish beard phase – the salt and pepper stage. That’s why girls get paid more. A girl’s rate for a fashion show is anywhere from $600 to $1,500, and a guy’s rate is usually half that — in part because their careers are longer. It evens out.
Will you be doing more acting now?
I never intended to model. It was never a goal of mine. I kind of had a stigma towards the industry, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I fell into it in the beginning and was doing it for money, but then it really became something I enjoyed – a way to be expressive. And then I got into acting, which I love because you have to study and remember scripts every night and then redo them the next morning. I love that. That’s kind of where I want to focus my career now.
Has being on Top Model benefited your acting career as well?
All facets of my career. Now I’m being asked to audition for roles I wouldn’t have been asked to audition for previously – as kind of a marketing tool. I’m able to bring fans to watch their shows. It’s mutually beneficial because obviously I want the role, but it’s also good for them because I can pull some ratings in. Obviously, you still have to be able to act, but it gives them that additional reason.
Did you like how you were portrayed on Top Model? Obviously, because of your kiss with Will, you got a bi-curious rep on the show… which, by the way, in fashion does you nothing but favours…
Correction: not bi-curious. I actually have a clothing brand right now called No Labels, which kind of created itself. After kissing Will, I said, “No labels.” And it’s the truth. I was born a man who is attracted to women, and that’s just the way that my body works – so it’s also very easy for me to understand how someone could be attracted to men. That’s just the way their body works. People put stigmas on certain labels, like, “Oh he’s gay, therefore he’s this, that, and the other.” Or, “He’s straight, so he must be a pervert.” I’ve met thousands of women and men who are attracted to the same sex, and thousands of women and men who are attracted to the opposite sex, but not a single one of them loves in the same way as another. How can you put a label on that? There’s so much more to it, so I said: “No labels.” And the whole kissing Will thing does no harm to me. He’s a beautiful man. I said I kissed the prettiest girl in the house, and he thought that was funny. We were in the kitchen and I said I’d try anything once, otherwise I won’t have an opinion on it. It’s foolish of me to think I have any idea about anything if I haven’t walked in their shoes, so to speak. I wasn’t talking sexually; I was talking about skydiving or anything, really. Raellia said, drop your pants. So I said okay. And then Romeo said, kiss Will. I said okay. It got turned into this huge thing. It was a lot like the telephone game where it turned into something that it wasn’t. I’ve kissed Will several times since then just out of fun because people get such a kick out of it. And then they put me with him in the Spider Byte commercial.
Are you allowed to say who you are hoping will win Cycle 21 of America’s Next Top Model?
We’re actually a really close group and talk every day. We have the LINE App as a big sponsor of our season, which is how we could text each other around the house. We all downloaded it after the show so we could keep talking. We have a big thread. For every person who could still win, they have their own thing that I can respect. Adam was a bit “What is this kid doing here?” in the beginning, and then he started to really care more and more about it. I can respect that he came around in that way. Keith came from Compton. His cousins have killed his brothers. He grew up in the projects. His Mom was attracted to women after a while. His story is wild. He got out of the projects and was able to play professional football. He doesn’t drink very often, and he doesn’t mess around with any drugs. I looked up to him in the house. Obviously, if he won, there’s a lot of respect for where he came from. And if Will won, he’d be the first male winner, and since he happens to be attracted to men, that would be cool in its own way. Raelia is awesome. Miss J said that Raelia looked like a young Tyra, and that was no good – we were like, “You better watch yourself now, Raelia!”
What else will you be doing while you’re in Canada?
I’m hosting SET on King Street on Saturday night. I was at the opening of Roots the other night, and they gave me the coolest onesy ever, by the way. I’m going to Montreal, Ottawa, and then back to Toronto on Saturday. I love Canada. The architecture in Montreal is killer. I went to school for landscape architecture, so I really respect that.
How do we stay up-to-date with you?
Instagram, and MattAsses.com. People were writing “Matt” on their ass as a way of showing that they were my fans – women and men. People started getting really creative with it – doing handstands – it’s been awesome. I made a Matt Asses Instagram, and it started trending — too many “Matt” ass photos came in to even keep track off, so I ran with it. No Labels was trending on its own, so I did something with that too.