Eva Marcille is following in her mentor Tyra Banks’ footsteps by becoming a reality show producer. Her inaugural project, Girlfriend Confidential: LA, follows her and three close friends as they navigate life, dating and lots of auditions in Hollywood. She spoke with ESSENCE.com about what will make her and her girls must-see TV, what Denzel Washington told her about success and why she’s seriously crushing on Usher.

ESSENCE.com: Girlfriend Confidential: LA is all about you and girlfriends. How do we know you guys are interesting?
EVA MARCILLE: Well, outside of the fact that they’re all complete riots on their own, my friends are a group of amazing artistic minds. For starters, Nikki Chu is an interior designer, and with a brain that thinks the way that hers does, she’s usually not on par with the rest of the world, which is kinda funny. Denyce Lawton is an actress and that requires a certain level of “I know I’m all that” and humor that must exist in you because of all the rejection we experience in this business. Kelly Marie Dunn has to be the biggest character amongst us. She’s Korean, born in Korea but raised in Portland, Oregon by a White family in a Black neighborhood. She’s a Delta Sigma Theda. She’s an honorary sista. If you don’t see the interest from those mere descriptions then I don’t know.

ESSENCE.com: Everyone on the show is drop-dead gorgeous. What are the prerequisites for being a part of this friendship?
EVA: The prerequisites for being part of the crew are to be women of business mind. Beauty, I think, is something that radiates from within us. We’re women who wake up everyday not necessarily satisfied with where we are, but we’re happy with the journey we’re on. It’s not always roses, but we wouldn’t want to be anything else. We’re basically living our dreams, and if you want to be in the circle, be a woman that lives your dream and beyond what the world expects of you because you’re a woman of color.

ESSENCE.com: So we’re not getting a lot of fighting on your show.
EVA: I think reality shows are amazing. I am one of the biggest watchers of every single reality show that exists. But many of them liken each other so I think it’s about time that you get a show that shows women of color in a different light. I’m not necessarily negating what we’ve seen before, but I can say what’s represented on reality TV of African-American women right now is not a reflection of who I am, and it’s not a reflection of who my friends are. What I wanted to show the world was a different representation of a woman whose goal in life is trying to be somebody. So it’s not about who we’re dating or have dated before. Our friendship is the most important.

Watch a clip of Eva’s new show, exclusively on ESSENCE.com and also learn seven things you didn’t know about her.

On what she bought with her first major paycheck
“I bought a condo on Madison Avenue in New York City when I won America’s Next Top Model and received my Cover Girl contract.”

On the biggest misconception about her
“I think the biggest misconception about me is that I’m a little bit harder than I am. I think I come off with a tougher skin than I actually have.”

On what she’d be doing if she weren’t “Eva the diva”
“I’d be Eva the defense attorney, trying to be Eva the Supreme Court justice. Thurgood Marshall is like my all-time idol. As a kid I was a big history buff and when I realized the accomplishments of this man it showed me the impact that one person could truly on the world and it told me that I am not here just for me.”

Her biggest Hollywood moment so far
“It would have to be meeting Denzel Washington. I remember meeting him at a party and saying, ‘Hey, I know this is really corny, but I might never see you again. Can you give me some words of advice?’ What he told me was to stay strong in my passion but not to look for too many accolades too soon in my career. What I took from that is that when you put yourself on a pedestal you’ll forever need to stand on those stilts. I modeled my career after his words.”

On her favorite people on Twitter
“Oprah! I love her. She has the best advice ever. And then every fashion tweeter that’s out there I love. There’s a guy named Ralph Marston who’s a motivational speaker that gives the most amazing quotes on Twitter. I don’t even know who this guy is but he’s inspirational.”

On her 10-plus tattoos
“I have 12. The question now is where am I going to put them.”

On her first celebrity crush
“I was in love with Usher Raymond. Oh my goodness, let me tell you! He was the best thing since sliced bread. When I got into the business I told my cousin [makeup artist] Terrell Mullen, Usher and I are going to be together. I remember seeing him at an awards show and couldn’t even speak. [Laughs] I would never tell him that, but I’m sure Essence will.”

Girlfriend Confidential: LA premieres on Oxygen on September 3 at 11 p.m.

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