It’s impossible to describe this woman with one word. America’s Next Top Model Fan Favorite. Miss Black Virginia USA. Face of DiDomenico Design. Graphic Designer. TV and radio host. Public speaker. Creative Director of i-Fashion Magazine. And she says there is much more to come! Who is Midori Amae? Let’s find out.
Continuing where we left off in Part 2…..
DC: Where does America’s Next Top Model competition come into play?
MA: I went out to audition for the show. I was really excited about auditioning. I thought that this is my year. This is what I am going to do. Boom, Boom, Pow! Yada, yada, yada. I get to the audition and I am so nervous! There are 1200 people in the Pentagon City Mall. We are there in line….me and one of my girlfriends. Producers, friends of the shows, and judges are walking around pulling people out of the crowd. One by one. Pull, pull, pull. And I’ll never forget, this guy I saw, who I admired in the industry walked right past me. And I was like, “Oh my God. I know you.” Another guy that I saw who does design work, actually wants to work with me now, walked right past me. I’m sitting here like let me get myself together. Let me get ready. I know I have about an hour before I get all the way to the front. Let me go to the bathroom in Nordstrom or Macy’s, whatever. Wash my face and get in the zone. What did I do? I came here and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t treat it like a casting call. So, I go to the bathroom and put on my white shirt, my blue jeans, nice pair of heels, slick my hair down. Put on a light makeup because you don’t want to put on too much makeup. You never want to do that. I walked back in line and got picked up by one of those producers in like 10 or 15 minutes. It was a woman who chose me. We walked all the way down that line and looked at every single person. She had about 4 or 5 of us after she has walked through. We were now on the inside. So we were like, “He’s got a great look, pull him.” She pulls another guy. Then she pulls another girl. She pulls a tall, shaved head, blonde chick. Just an awesome, killer look. I’ll never forget. Killer face structure And I was like cool. This is a great group to be in. I look like I belong. We go straight to the front. They expedited our process. We took a picture, spoke on camera, did some poses or whatever and a little bit of a walk. Then they ask you some trivial questions like, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” And I’m like…I’m not crazy like that. Girl, I barely went skinny dipping one time or whatever. I’m sure I’m not for reality TV (laughs). We did all of that. And they were having a contest for the DCW 50 because that’s the channel that airs ANTM. Looking for the fan favorite. So anyone can vote. You vote for the person that you want to win. Boom. I thought I was in the running at the beginning. So I was like everyone vote for me, vote for me, you can vote as many times as you want. After awhile I didn’t see my name on the list of the finalists. I imagined that I didn’t make it on to the next round. I let it go. I was really excited about just going to the audition, seeing people. I met a lot of great people. I spoke with some producers and a lot of really cool things. All of the sudden, the day of the contest, my name is on the top. There’s 3 people on the list. We all won. I sat there like this crazy! Me! No way! I didn’t think I was in the running and ended up winning with the two others. It was awesome. After that I used it for every experience I could possibly create from that connection I made. The people that I’ve met, the fashion shows I’ve been able to walk in and host. It never would have happened had I not entered that contest. So I am very thankful for DCW 50 for hosting it. I know it’s just random but I don’t think they really understand how much it helped and sparked a lot for me.
DC – So, America’s Next Top Model you’re talking about – is that something you’re still involved with today or is that just a one-time thing you go through?
MA – Exactly, yes. Just a one-time deal. It was done by the station – so I’m not sure every station even does it. I’ve seen other contests similar but, yeah, just something really cool that I can say that happened, and I know for a fact I got votes from all over the country and London, and Australia, something like that. So, I was like, what?
DC – So, it’s international in its reach.
MA – Yeah, right
DC – So, does this – I don’t know if it’s anything like American Idol where you go to the national stage, or is that a whole different thing?
MA – No, no, no. Just a contest that they had for that station in DC.
DC – OK. I wasn’t sure how that worked. Did this in any way tie in with you getting to be ‘the face’ of the DiDomenico brand, or was this already something you were involved with before?
MA – Before. So, DiDomenico and I came together in college, because we both went to Virginia Tech, and she was amazing. I didn’t even know who she was on campus until I started hanging out with the fashion design students and they were having fashion shows and I was like, ‘I need to be in this fashion show. Why hasn’t anyone told me. I’m like, ‘I am the model on campus’, so sure enough I get in there and Kelsy was kicking ass for no reason, just in there just being awesome. Her designs were so forward-thinking, every time there was like a challenge, like a theme or whatever, she would knock it out the park. And I’m sitting here, and you know when you see a talent from very early on – you’re like ‘I want to be around her, she obviously knows what’s going on’. I don’t think I wore one of her pieces, the couple of times that we were modeling together, but we knew each other. And, at some point, she put me in a dress and I think that was from way, way, way back when she first started her collection. She knew of me and one other girl and we did some pictures on campus to kind of help start the collection off, or whatever, and then afterwards, I don’t know, our friendship is just super fun; I just love to mess around with her. So, I think that, and I’ve told you this before, we both believe in each other’s dreams as much as we believe in our own, right?
DC – Yes, yes
MA – So, I see her passion for design and for clothing and all that stuff and she sees my passion for helping people, for hosting, for modeling, for all this sort of stuff. However we can help each other, we do. So, after a while, it just became, ‘duh, why don’t we do it together?
MA – Yeah, like, ‘Why aren’t you facing my brand? Let’s do this’ And I was like, If I’m going to do this, I’m really going to do this’. Like, damn, I’m going to put you everywhere, like, you’re going to be my official everything. I think it was so perfect timing that The Miss Black Virginia stuff happened, because I had already been with DiDomenico and I’d already competed in other pageants but it was harder for me to find clothing and accessories and people to do hair and make-up because I had been starting modeling but I wasn’t really in it. Now that I’m in it, I have hair stylists and make-up artists and I now have DiDomenico, so it makes my Miss Black Virginia experience that much easier. I don’t have to go out searching for all these things, and dresses are a really big part of that. And so, I feel like that it’s amazing that we get to partner with each other and I get to help my sister’s brand, she helps me – that’s awesome
DC – It’s a win win?
MA – Yeah, it is. I feel like that’s how a really good friendship can be.
DC – You push each other to go farther
MA – Exactly. It’s just so many things- it just works, it just works. Her stuff is great so, I’m trying to get her to do a wedding dress for one of my friends and I’m always telling, ‘Oh no, you want custom work? Go here, go to this website’. They’re like, ‘you’re on this website’, I’m like, ‘I know!, I know! It’s great’ It’s approved – go do it.
DC – And then this leads you, like you said, to Miss Black Virginia.
MA – Yeah, yeah
DC – When was this? Is this within the past year?
MA – Yeah definitely
DC – We haven’t even talked about pageants and things
MA – I know, pageant life. Right. I should have been Miss Hokey. So, when I was eighteen, in college, my first year, I decided to do the pageant that was held on our campus. And, they had a pageant and they had been doing it, like, fairly steadily every year, but this year was going to be, you know, pretty big. I was excited, I was really excited to get on campus and just be a part of whatever was going on. I happened to have, at the time, a love interest who was in that fraternity so, I had a kind of connection. I’m like, ‘Maybe I’ll be in the _pageant, maybe I’ll win, maybe..it’ll be great’. Whatever. Whatever. So, December rolls around. The pageant comes, I get first place. No, sorry, first runner up, which is second place. I wasn’t disappointed because I got beaten by a girl who does pageants, like, all the time, so I was like, ok, cool; it was a great learning experience and everyone there was telling me, ‘You should do this pag, you should do that pag’ and I was like, no, it’s just so expensive, it’s so costly. So, I was like ok, I got first runner up. I didn’t do anything else with that pageant, I didn’t compete in that pageant again. I helped the other girls who won the next year, I traveled with them for their regionals. I was at a regional just coaching, helping, hosting, filling in wherever needed. Around my fifth year I’m done with school – like, yeah, over it. And sure enough, in the Fall, I happened to be talking to that guy again. We were chatting, and he was like, ‘you want to help the girls?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I’m down to help’ – I’m like ole mama, now. The guys, he’s in the fraternity now and he’s, you know, leading the charge, and is like “I’ve got to get somebody to help with this pageant.” And some part of me was just, like, ‘Girls, you guys are so great. You guys are going to be so awesome’. I could so do this. And I didn’t care, I was so over it, and he just happened to say one day, and he was very serious about it, he was like: you should do it. And I was like, no, and he was like, no,you should do it. And I sat there and was just like, well, that money, I’ve got a dress, I’ve got the time. I can invest in this – let’s do it. And I wait until that pageant and I went in just hoping to perform well. I hope my song is great, I hope, oh my gosh. And, I came out winning. And that was probably a moment for me where I was able to show my parents, ‘Look, this isn’t just some BS. Also, I’m really great at what I do, thank you very much, mom and dad’. You know my ode to the arts, I sang a song – ha ha ha. Practiced it all year. It was very interesting to me, and that’s when I kind of got bit and I wanted to do more.
So I went on for the regional, the state level – excuse me – and, that was fun, a lot of fun. Super great. And then I didn’t win that one. I was super sexy – it sounds really stupid, but the only way to kind of show you. The whole thing was church; it was like an old baptist church. That was the theme of the pageant. We’re all sitting here in white liturgical gowns, all the way, long sleeves, gloves, yelling and stuff. And, of course, I come out in this swimwear. I come out in this low deep V, Victoria Secret mesh, and I’m like, how could I be so ill-prepared for a theme that was church? Who does? I did it. So, I was really upset with myself. Then went – use this to motivate myself to research more. They didn’t come with a theme until I’d already got my stuff together. So, I was like, you guys suck. So, sure enough, I didn’t win that one. But it was a great experience. Ever since then I’ve helped whenever they need me, maybe with the models, with the girls – not the models, with the pageant girls. Even at the Virginia conference, there’s a place, there’s a role for the women when it comes to that Alpha conference and it was really nice to be on the outside of that. I was already a queen, I don’t have to compete this year and now I just get to help you guys just be the best you for tomorrow. So, we do all the dinners with all the guys, we do any of the major events that they do; there’s always a table for the ladies. I always loved being a part of that but not necessarily being in it, not necessarily having to compete. That was a lot of fun, so I like helping
DC – OK. That’s like a precursor to your coaching
MA – Yes, exactly. Exactly, yes, yes, yes. It always comes around to me helping somebody somehow. I’m going to help. So, that was pretty cool and I went back to my directors, those people from my freshman year and said, ‘what were you guys talking about old pageants and things? What’s next? What else can I do?’ I competed for Miss Virginia twice, I’ve competed in locals. I’m pretty sure the highest I came in was second runner up, maybe, third place. I didn’t have the money to go to Miss Virginia on my own without the sponsorship of a local pageant so I didn’t compete for another two years for that and then last February I was approached to submit an application for Miss Black Virginia.They were needing a Virginia representative. A lot of people had already put in an application. But my pageant director, I told him I’m mad about it, I want to do it, let’s just try it and if he would, write a recommendation letter for me and I’ll submit all my stuff, and by that summer they’d told me ‘we’ve selected you. You don’t have to compete, we’ve selected you out of a certain number of girls’ and I was like ‘Oh my god!’ Twenty-plus girls.
DC – And that leads to this August.
MA- Yeah, yeah
DC – The Miss Black USA, which you’ll be getting ready for.
MA – I’m so excited. Oh my goodness. I’m so excited to compete again. Excited to bring my best. To see other women’s best. To be around the best of the best. I really like that. I think that I have a really unique chance, opportunity to put Virginia in a highlight in pageant and to put its pageant on a higher pedestal with everything that I want to do when it comes to this pageant for the next year. I’m super excited!
DC – I bet you are! That’s certainly something we’ll follow. Are you ready for the philosophy questions?
MA -Let’s do it!
In Part 4, Midori talks about love, marriage, religion, giving, friendship and more!
Did you miss Part 1 ?
Keep up to date with Midori and all of her hijinx at her personal website. Upcoming events include:
- Model workshop in NYC May 27th/28th (date TBD)
- Hosting a modeling workshop in DC the first week in June (TBA)
- Miss Black USA Pageant (August) You can support Midori on her journey by donating or buying a tshirt