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Editor's note: This is an update on a story that ran in this morning's edition of The Daily Gazette. The original story follows.

UPDATE: Scotia woman reaches 'Top Model' final

LaFrate finds competition twists personality

May 16, 2012
Updated 10:22 p.m.
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Scotia's Laura LaFrate is one of the finalists on "America's Next Top Model."
Scotia's Laura LaFrate is one of the finalists on "America's Next Top Model."

— Scotia's Laura LaFrate is still in the running to be "America’s Next Top Model."

LaFrate survived elimination in Wednesday’s episode and is one of the two remaining finalists. This cycle of the CW television show is titled “America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion” and pitted seven American contestants with seven returning contestants from the British edition of the show.

LaFrate is the last American left standing after Briton Annaliese was eliminated

In this week’s episode, the contestants were photographed inside an oversized bottle in an ad for a perfume.

Host Tyra Banks said LaFrate, who was sporting hair with red and blue streaks in it, doesn’t follow convention. However, she may have gotten the reputation that she only knows how to do “wild” shots and the more soft and sweet kind of modeling.

However, the judges believed that she earned her spot in the final two. “We feel like you’re the whole package — modeling potential and a personality.”

However, Banks said the judges are “terrified” about her runway walk after she had been fired from a Toronto show earlier in the season. “You have work to do.”

The show airs at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays on the CW15. Next week’s show is a recap of highlights of the season with the finale set for May 30.

Here is the original story published in Wednesday's edition:

Laura LaFrate describes the past few months as walking a tightrope of social politics. A contestant on America’s Next Top Model, she can’t let on who won the TV competition before the finale is aired, but she feels guilty being so secretive all the time.

Not to mention, she’s had to watch herself be portrayed as the competition’s “villain.”

But she always anticipated the challenges. After all, she had signed up to be on a competitive reality show.

“I knew that because I’m a very outspoken person that this was going to happen,” said LaFrate, one of three competitors left on America’s Next Top Model. “I’m not afraid. I will speak my mind and I knew that they were going to use that to their advantage.”

LaFrate grew up and went to school in Scotia, which offered a life far from the one she is now experiencing. Then, she was a brunette hardly interested in makeup or cameras. Now, she is a platinum blonde fighting for a modeling career on the big screen.

As Cycle 18 of ANTM (or America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion) comes to a head and the winner will soon be named during the May 30 finale on CW15, the Scotia native is experiencing everything at an intense level.

She still gets the question: “Did you win?”

She still can’t answer.

With the whole world watching her (or at least the ones who enjoy competitive modeling and reality TV shows) since the cycle premiere in February, LaFrate has balanced maintaining the secrecy required by her confidentiality contract with still engaging with her fans all over the world.

“When I do media interviews, I have to tell people ‘Please don’t ask me, please don’t ask me,’ ” she chuckled, a hint of stress in her voice.

Her parents and a few close friends know. But they were also required to sign the agreement, and a breach could mean a penalty of $5 million and LaFrate losing the modeling contract she may or may not have won.

“I get that question every day, especially on Twitter from fans,” she said. “And it’s so funny because all I can do is just ignore it. People get really, really caught up and I’ve got to withhold information from people. And they’ll take it personally and get upset. So you’re constantly on a tightrope of social politics. I very quickly change subjects and I really do get a weird, guilty feeling not being able to say what I want or the full extent of everything that’s happened.”

So she copes by throwing herself into her own projects, things that keep her a safe and healthy distance away from the show.

She tries to lead the life of any 20-year-old. She visits friends in New York City. She recently went skydiving. She posts her feelings on social media like anyone her age might.

It all helps with her second biggest challenge post-filming: Seeing an edited version of herself on TV. The Laura LaFrate who appears on the CW every Wednesday at 9 p.m. is not the Laura LaFrate who hails from Scotia.

“I try to avoid watching the show at all costs,” she said. “It’s not a representation of my personality.”

In LaFrate’s first discussion with The Gazette in February, she had yet to see the first episode air and had complete faith in the process. She was sure the TV crews never encouraged the women to stir up meaningless drama just for ratings and said that “any drama that did happen was from our own doing.”

She now realizes that’s not necessarily true.

“I’m appalled at the way the editing happened,” said LaFrate. “There wasn’t much actual drama in the house. There wasn’t as much friction as you see on TV. So they had to create it and it seemed that I was the one they used to capture that emotion, that drama. But I accept it.”

In last week’s episode, for example, the young women (Laura, Alisha, Sophie, Annaliese and Eboni) were in Hong Kong to meet Nicholas Tse and learn martial arts for a challenge. For the second week in a row, Laura won the challenge. But Alisha and Eboni both loathed Laura, and said that she seduced Tse and was “sleeping her way to the top.”

LaFrate’s just glad that her friends and family and fans know that’s not her. To them, she can be laid back, hardworking and compassionate. Hardly a villain.

“The show just takes it away and makes it all black and white, and I’m almost disgusted that they chose to do so,” she said. “I try to counteract that by getting myself out there and showing people the real me.”

One of the ways she does this is by staying active in her local community.

She won’t be on the screen, but will be on the local runway this Friday as a model and judge for the third annual Electric City Couture Fashion Show at Proctors. She’ll be wearing designs by House of Lady Button, a fashion studio of upstate designer Joleen Button, and judging the fashion competition Best of Broadway.

LaFrate is the last remaining American on Cycle 18, and will face Sophie and Annaliese in tonight’s episode.

As far as what to expect tonight, LaFrate has pulled out her secretive side again and said the main thing fans should know is that politics go into any reality show.

“Sometimes things happen and it’s not based on real life,” she said. “It’s based on purely what a producer’s whims are and there’s nothing we as the models could have done. Sometimes, it’s just out of our hands.”

 
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