HollywoodPQ interview: Matthew Smith talks about America’s Next Top Model behind the scene and his new clothing line, No Labels.
On a trip to Toronto’s Fashion Week, Matthew Stephen Smith (aka our favorite contestant on America’s Next Top Model cycle 21) made a quick detour to Montreal. We had the chance of meeting him for an intimate interview in one of the city’s institutions, Reuben’s Deli on Sainte-Catherine.
Believe us when we tell you the guy is everything he seems to be on T.V.: charismatic, laid back, so very sweet and, of course, handsome. Not only is he handsome, this 24 years old model has a good head on his shoulders! We him to reveal some of the production secrets this head contains, as well as some news about Matt’s new clothing line, No Labels.
HPQ: Since they introduced social media in America’s Next Top Model, we were wondering how they make it work… Is it shot way before it’s broadcasted?
Matt: Yeah, we ended filming on April 6th. There’s good and bad to it. Before, if you were eliminated, you would really go home. You would really leave the competition. Now, since it has social media and they obviously pre-film, every model has to be in every photoshoot for the entire duration of the show. So, even if you are eliminated, you’re still traveling, still doing the photoshoots, and still being part of everything, which is great for us.
When the show’s been going on for 21 cycles, they’ve got it down to a science. Every single thing they do is so meticulous.
There were something like 40 or 50 thousand submissions this year, and then they brought it down to the final 34 people, and every one of the 34 models was more than capable of being in the show. They were all beautiful and all unique.
The whole week before you live in the house, it’s just psychology tests for hours, and meeting with psychologists and counselors, breaking you down and figuring out what type of personnality you have… They knew stuff about the combination of our cast before we even knew it. I mean, it’s 1,2 million every three days on this show. That’s the production cost. So, they don’t leave anything to chance.
HPQ: You were featured in OUT Magazine with Will. Watching the show, the event with Will (the kiss and everything that went down) was pretty big. Were you surprised that it became such a big part of your presence on the show?
Matt: It was not planned, that’s for sure. Everyone always asks if the drama in the house is organic and real. Do the producers tell us what to do on the side? Top Model really doesn’t do that at all. They just allow us to live out our lives. I think it’s probably one of the benefits for them to do the research to get the right people in the house, because then they don’t have to do that. It’s all completely natural. What’s you see is what you get. Obviously there’s like thousands of hours of footage for every episode, and then they have to narrow that down to 45 minutes which is unbelievable.
With Will, it was definitely not planned. It just happened organically. We were in the kitchen one night, we were all drinking coffee which was alcohol… If you ever saw us walking around with coffee mugs, it’s not coffee… Denzel and I, after a day of working we would always come back and be like « let’s do some coffee! ». Denzel, Adam and I partied every single night!
I mean, you don’t have a cell phone, you don’t have a T.V., you don’t have the newspapers, you’re completely removed from the world. You’re an adult and you’re put back into babysitting mode. You have no responsabilities other than being entertaining and model; which means you have no responsabilities. I took advantage of that going in the house. (…) My brother was like « Think of it as you’re a child again and you have no responsabilities. All you have to do is have fun. » It’s the greatest way of looking at it. That’s exactly what I did. So, we partied a lot!
HPQ: We saw Adam partying!
Matt: Adam played beer pong against himself until four in the morning! Adam north versus Adam south, and he would sit there and talk sh*t to himself. He kept a tally record if Adam south was gonna be bad. « Adam south is really letting me down. It might be Adam south’s arm on that side of the table. I don’t really quite know. » He’s crazy but… good guy! (He laughs)
One time we were all drinking. It was towards the beginning of the competition. I was telling people I would never judge someone unless I have experienced the topic first hand. I was not talking sexually; I was talking like skydiving or stuff in general. Romeo was like « Kiss Will » and I was like « Pucker up Will! » (He laughs). Then, we kissed, and it was no big deal at all.
I think what happened is that it became the telephone game inside the house. I just think it came as a shocker because I appear as a very masculine man. What society doesn’t realize is that kissing a guy doesn’t make you any less masculine.
Then, Will and I would just mess around with the rest of the cast, and just try to hide like we were kissing but knowing they were all secretly watching. It would just freak them out. On the show, I didn’t think of it as anything, really. I didn’t even know if the show was gonna air it.
HPQ: So, it’s basically a big party in there! When do you guys get your beauty rest?
Matt: I mean… Yeah, you don’t! (He laughs) A lot of the interviewers ask what I get from this experience. You’re living in extreme circumstances, there’s no exiting and, sometimes, you feel like you’re losing your mind. Somethings like this tour are so much easier because I’m living essentially the same lifestyle, but the difference is I don’t have a camera in my face, I don’t have a mic on my chest, I’m not being told to shut up, and where to go, and how to talk. It actually makes this sort of thing so much easier. They just get you ready for the worst case scenario.
That’s why all the drama happens in the house completely naturally; because you’re completely losing your mind. Normally, in life, if someone pisses you off or says something you don’t agree with, if you’re mature, you can walk away from the situation, digest what happened, get a third person’s perspective, and then handle the situation properly. There’s none of that in the house.
Raelia and Mirjana once were on the bus. Mirjana was like « Bi*** you’re not gonna win, you have no style! » and then Raelia was like « You’re wearing my clothes! ». That’s when I put my headphones back on… (He laughs)
HPQ: Tell us about that brand!
Matt: No Labels. The No Labels thing happened during Top Model as well. Basically, this is how I say it: labeling someone is the most inhumane way of trying to define a human being.
I’ve met thousands of people who are attracted to the same sex, and thousands of people who are attracted to the opposite sex; not one of them loves of cares about someone in the same way. How unfair is it to try and put them in one category? Labeling people allows human beings to feel good about the fact that they don’t actually spend the time to get to know someone as an individual.
It’s not just the LGBT community. It’s also about religious background, race, color, ethnicity, language. It’s kind of a movement about people being more conscious about getting to know people individually rather than just putting them into a group of people that makes them feel like they understand them. I thought a cool way to do that directly from my industry is to create a clothing brand that is called No Labels. It makes people aware visually but it also has the actual meaning behind it.
I made these bracelets which I am really stoked about: No Labels bracelets. Every month, the profits go different organisations that can relate to No Labels. This month it’s going to a non-profit organisations that helps with foster kids in Colorado.
The thing that I love so much about this idea is that I could just donate to a non-profit personally, but these bracelets allow me to have my fans actually be a part of it. For one, they can feel good about wearing the brand and stand behind it. And two, they know the money they spend is going towards a cause. I want the clothes to be cool, I want people to want to wear them, but more importantly, I want people to know that there’s a meaning behind it.
HPQ: How much involvment do you put into the No Labels creative process?
HPQ: We read about the coats… That you’re gonna create a coat for each month…
Matt: Everything happens organically in my life. I don’t ever try to push for anything if it doesn’t come to me. As a model, you’re wearing designer’s clothes all the time. You get a good feel for what you like and what your personal style is.
So, I made my first jacket in Korea while we were filming and I made it for myself. That was before the idea of creating a brand was even a twinkle in my eye… I was asked, litterally, everywhere I went « Where did you get this jacket? How much is it? Where can I buy it? ». Finally, this one guy came up to me and went « I would litterally do anything for that jacket. » I was like « Man, if this many people want this, I could really sell it. » So, the brand idea was one thing in my head and the No Labels thing was something completely on its own. I thought I could totally put these things together and kill two birds with one stone. So, that’s what I did.
My brand is just my style that I’m selling to people. That’s how I look at it. And I’m making it. As I said, 100% of it came out of my mind. I don’t have a designer. Obviously, I’ve been talking to girls because I don’t wear girls clothing…
HPQ: How long have you been working on it?
Matt: Hummm… Two months. I mean, there’s a lot of sold out stuff on my page. I ship to almost every country, a lot of asian markets. That’s crazy that the brand started and immediately became a worldwide brand, so to speak.
HPQ: Where do you see it going?
Matt: Like I said, I let things take care of themselves and I’m willing to put in as much work as needed on my end, but I’m never gonna push it ’cause that’s when it becomes uncomfortable. If it doesn’t happen naturally, then maybe it was not meant to exist, at least at that time. We’ll see where it goes. Right now I’m closing some investment deals and we’re gonna start mass producing so I don’t have to sell out of stuff so quick. I think that half the fun is to see where it goes. I’m not too sure…
HPQ: It’s pretty amazing to see someone who goes with the flow and does what he likes while being faithful to himself!
Matt: I say confidence and happiness. When I speak to kids, to schools, my lesson is confidence and happiness. Whatever you want to do in your career, if you can be happy with what you’re doing and confident in yourself, you’ll be successful. That goes back to the No Labels thing too because if you’re confident in yourself and happy with who you are, it’s a lot easier not to label others because you want to share your happiness.
You know, happiness spreads just as fast as hateful things. If people were more conscious of those things, it makes for a better environment. It starts with you. You really have to know what makes you happy and then that transcends into confidence.
Special thanks to Matthew Smith, a man we will make sure to follow. You can do the same by subscribing to his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can also follow one of his Instagram fanpages, Mattasses, where you get to see his name on countless buttocks. Ha ha! Finally, just because you deserve it, you can take a look at Matthew‘s complete photo gallery right here.
Photos: Twitter / Out Magazine / Official Facebook page / Ellements Magazine / Mattasses.com / No Labels