A woman determined to make her own destiny, Dominique Reighard is headed in the right direction by becoming the winner of the first season of Tyra Banks's "Modelville" show. You may remember this Columbus, Ohio, beauty from cycle 10 of "America's Next Top Model." Dominique tried out for the show five times before she finally made the cut, but was eliminated after making it to the final four of episode 12. The 24 year-old mother however did not let this defeat get her down as she battled her way through the "Modelville" challenges to become the new spokesperson for Carol's Daughter, snagging a contract worth $50,000. In an exclusive interview and photo shoot with ESSENCE.com (where the cover girl rocks the must-haves in formal wear by designers Ruth Tarvydas and b. michael at New York's Kobe Club), Dominique chats with us about Tyra, being the new face of Carol's Daughter, and her new year's resolution.
ESSENCE.COM: Describe how you felt when you were announced the winner of Tyra Banks's "Modelville" reality show?
DOMINIQUE REIGHARD: It was an incredible, overwhelming feeling. It was so beautiful to see all of my hard work turn into a success and unfold before my eyes. I wanted to hold onto that moment, and then, when I was ready, I got to share it with the rest of the world.
ESSENCE.COM: How was your experience on "Modelville" been different from "America's Next Top Model"? Reflecting back on both experiences, how have you grown as a model?
REIGHARD: It was different because after already going through "Top Model," I knew a little bit about what to expect. I've learned so much from "Top Model" to now. Tyra gave a crash course on everything I need to know to be a successful model. Now I get the opportunity to put it to work as the spokesbeauty of Carol's Daughter, which is very exciting.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you personally identify with the Carol's Daughter brand and product?
REIGHARD: Carol's Daughter has always spoken to me because of Lisa Price's inspiring story. Being a model and having to work my way to the top, I can really relate to her drive and struggle to turn her dreams into a reality.
ESSENCE.COM: As the new face of Carol's Daughter, you join ranks with celebrated spokesmodels Jada Pinkett Smith and Mary J. Blige. What do you plan to bring to the role of spokesmodel?
REIGHARD: As the new spokesmodel for Carol's Daughter, I look forward to setting a positive example for women everywhere, showing that you can achieve anything if you work hard, stay positive, and follow your passions.
ESSENCE.COM: What were your plans for New Year's Eve? What did you wear on the big night?
REIGHARD: I was at home with my 3-year-old daughter. Ever since I had her I always like to spend as much time celebrating together. New Year's Eve is a very important holiday that you should always ring in with family and loved ones.
ESSENCE.COM: What is your new year's resolution?
REIGHARD: To continue to grow as a person and as a model and to make this year better than the last.
ESSENCE.COM: What were your biggest or most memorable events both personally and professionally in 2008?
REIGHARD: Winning "Modelville" was my most memorable professional event. Potty training my daughter was my biggest achievement personally.
ESSENCE.COM: Are you planning to walk the catwalks during New York Fashion Week? Which designers are you dying to work with and why?
REIGHARD: Yes, I hope to. I'd love to work with Pamela Rolland; she has the most amazing gowns. I also love D Squared because their styles are diva and sexy. The Baby Phat show is always fun and they put on a great show.
ESSENCE.COM: What are your top two Carol's Daughter beauty/cosmetics products and why?
REIGHARD: I can't live without Carol's Daughter Lemon Ginger Mint Manicure in a Jar. I travel all the time for work and this is the easiest way to keep my hands gorgeous and soft.
My newest obsession is Pearls, the new fine fragrance from Carol's Daughter. I wear the scent every day; it's gorgeous.
ESSENCE.COM: What style/fashion rules do you follow when dressing yourself?
REIGHARD: I make sure to always stay true to what I like and myself. Also, it's always important to go with your gut feeling about an outfit. My last rule for fashion: even skinny girls need spandex.
ESSENCE.COM: Where do you like to shop when you are looking for a discount and/or bargain?
REIGHARD: Definitely Carol's Daughter for beauty; the products are so personal and special, plus they're made with real, luscious ingredients from nature. For me, buying a product that feels handmade just for me is a bargain.
ESSENCE.COM: When the ESSENCE reader sees your name or picture, what unique qualities about yourself do you hope comes to mind?
REIGHARD: Genuine, outgoing, confident and friendly.
Editorial credits: Photography by Ameila Shaw; Art Director: Qianna Smith; Stylist: Ludget Delcy; Hair & Makeup: El-Leo; Hair & Makeup Assistant: Rowshana Jackson: Stylist Assistant: Chris Santiago
Shot on location at Jeffrey Chodorow and Charlie Walk's Kobe Club NYC courtesy SHADOW PR.