When the world was introduced to Saaphyri Windsor and her fuschia-and-blonde crown of glory, many believed she was a hopeless, loose cannon after an altercation on "Flavor of Love" caused her 15 minutes of fame to fizzle. A year later, no one could have imagined that the hairstylist from Los Angeles would be the poster child for etiquette. Now, Windsor, the "Charm School " winner, has a new attitude and new ‘do. After beating out Becky (“Buckwild"), Leilene (“Smiley”), and Shay (“Buckey”), the raven-haired charmer reflects on her personal growth since the show, shares how she's putting her $50,000 prize money to good use and what happened to her Uggs.
ESSENCE.com: Congrats! Now that you’re the winner, what have you learned from your "Charm School " experience?
Saaphyri Windsor: Thank you. Ohmigosh! My experience was like going through a spiritual retreat. I’ve learned to bite my tongue and that you don’t always make lasting relationships so you must choose your friends wisely. And one of the other things I’ve learned from my girl, Becky, was marketing.
ESSENCE.com: You once said that winning $50,000 was like winning $1 million. How has it changed your life?
S.W.: I got the money but I realize that money doesn’t make a person; you have to make the person. I am putting a down payment on a condo and it definitely feels good to have your own. And just to clear the air, I don’t live in a box. For some reason people thought I did, but I lived with roommates. The truth of the matter is that as long as you don’t have your own it’s like you’re homeless because any second you could be out on the streets. Yes, it’s nice that I can pay my bills and mortgage, but I still can’t afford to say, "I’m never going to work again." What the money has offered me is a platform to stand strong on.
ESSENCE.COM: Love the new ‘do and you’ve lost weight. Was that compliments of "Charm School"?
S.W.: No, I just felt like going black. We had makeovers, but they changed my hair color to a light brown. What I did gain from "Charm School" was learning to take my time when I eat. That’s something I wouldn’t have done a year ago. I’ve lost so much weight and my clothes are fitting me more loosely. I've learned a beauty secret: when you take your time eating, you get full before you’re done.
ESSENCE.com: Is there any animosity between you and the girls?
S.W.: I never have animosity towards anybody. Even if I did, I wouldn’t talk about the person in my interview because it’s my time! So, I love everybody!
ESSENCE.COM: That's a great attitude to have. Well, let’s revisit some of your antics. Do you think that blowing your nose on the clothes and throwing a tantrum was charming?
S.W.: As far as me blowing my nose on that shirt it was either me making a mess of my face or that, so I chose. After the way I felt, blowing my nose in some weird way revived me. It isn’t until you go through things in life that you discover how it truly affects you. I had no idea that giving away all my belongings would affect me like that or that I would carry on to that degree. Honestly, I felt degraded, but I had to learn that things don’t make you; you make things.
ESSENCE.COM: After that display of emotions, please tell me they gave you back your Uggs (boots).
S.W.: (laughs) Yes, they did. I think they bought them back from the woman. Now that I can afford it, I’m not even buying any more because those are my lucky Uggs.
ESSENCE.COM: Indeed, $50,000 lucky! So do you think Mo’Nique was the best host for a show on charm and etiquette?
S.W.: Mo’Nique was a perfect choice because she could understand where we were all coming from. She wasn’t’ raised like Paris Hilton, so she was someone who could relate to the students. Had it been a Mary Poppins-like individual, we would have chewed her up and spit her out.
ESSENCE.COM: Do you think the show debases women?
S.W.: People do what people want to do. I’ve had grandmamas tell me that they watch that show and you know elders will turn off something in a second if they’re offended by it and say, "Turn that mess off!" If anyone were to be filmed everyday for a month, I'm sure they would do something that might make people think that their behavior is degrading.
ESSENCE.COM: Would you say that you were the most charming and refined of the crew and ultimately that quality helped you bag that 50 grand?
S.W.: Now that I understand some of the rules of possessing charm, I do consider myself charming. But I still believe I’m a diamond-in-the-rough and "Charm School" helped me scrape off a big chunk of the coal. Of course, I'm a pink diamond because pink is my favorite color. Again, I don’t know if I was the most refined because I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, but I do believe I prayed more than anybody else and that’s what helped me. I look at God like a real daddy, He understands me and saw me through to the end.