Photos by Eric Pietrangolare
After 15 weeks of competition, Tyra Banks crowned Nyle DiMarco the winner of America’s Next Top Model. He becomes the second male model to ever win the competition and the only deaf contestant to vie for the title. DiMarco is also the series’ final winner—Banks cancelled the series after cycle 22.
A breakout among the contestants, the 26-year-old model quickly won fans over with a mix of stunning good looks and a charming persona. Even before landing on top, DiMarco popped up on Out.com, making tongues wag with his Endless Summer and Solo photo series. On Twitter, he caused a frenzy when he came out as sexually fluid, undoubtedly increasing curiosity among the most casual of ANTM viewers.
SLIDESHOW | Nyle DiMarco, Week to Week on America’s Next Top Model
Following his win, DiMarco filled us in on everything from his celebrity crush to modeling idols and fashion choices to dating.
Out: Congrats on winning. What does this title mean to you?
Nyle DiMarco: I don't think I'll ever be able to describe how I feel about being the first deaf contestant ever to not only be on the show... but to win it, too! It's incredible. This title means so much to me. I used my time on the show as an opportunity to educate the world on deaf culture and what being deaf is truly all about. I feel like I made a huge difference because I can see the world reacting to my presence on the show in such a positive way. Winning ANTM is just another example that shows that deaf people can do anything.
What was the biggest challenge about competing on America’s Next Top Model?
The biggest challenge was not being able to use my native language, American Sign Language (ASL). To live is to be able to communicate. Without being able to engage in a conversation with someone, you go nuts. Communication is the dignity to live. So, it was tough trying to keep up with what happened within the house and trying to communicate with models through the OPPO phone so I could stay involved.
What’s the most important thing Tyra taught you over the course of the series?
The most important thing Tyra taught me was to stand your ground if you believe in something. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I think her statement truly applies to my everyday life. Sure, I am deaf—but that does not mean anything at all because deaf people can do anything. I’m here to prove that and I have been proving it my whole life.
Do you think you’re a better model now than before competition?
I can honestly tell you that when I watched the first few episodes again and looked at my modeling pictures before the show, I cringed. I was thinking to myself, "Why did you do this?" "Why did you pose that?" "Where is your energy?" "What’s wrong with you?!" It was almost like looking at a little kid who barely knows anything. So, I can definitely say I am 100 times a better model than before the competition.
While a lot of the cast were flirting and hooking up, you didn’t do anything on camera. Was there anyone you were attracted to on the show?
I will not lie—there were scenes of Lacey and I together, but we didn’t really bother developing anything because we both wanted to focus on winning. We were really close because she was almost the only person in the house that learned ASL and kept me in the loop with everything. I value our friendship.
Is there a particular model or designer that made you want to get into fashion?
A photographer made me want to get into fashion. He is deaf. He is good. And he kept asking for shoots with me and kept encouraging me to get into modeling. His name is Tate Tullier. We’re great friends now, and I owe it a lot to him for believing in me, even though it took him years.
Are there any male models that you aspire to be like?
I looked up to David Gandy before I went on ANTM. I felt that we have similar features. I liked his pictures and his humility. Since he's at the top, that means I can be there, too. After the show, people have been telling me that I could pass as David Gandy! He has worked for Dolce & Gabbana and that is also one of my goals. I hope to meet him one day and perhaps work with him!
What kind of fragrance do you wear?
I do not own a cologne or anything. I only have my Old Spice (Pure Sport) deodorant. I like my scent as natural as possible!
What’s one piece of clothing that you love—and why?
If you consider shoes in the clothing category, then I would say my leather boots. I love the style, and I love how they look on me. I think they enhance my look with whatever I’m wearing! I feel like boots tell a lot more story and tells more about a person.
What brands or designers do you like?
I love Hugo Boss. The word BOSS is already self-explanatory. I love wearing suits and tuxedos every chance I get. I feel like any Hugo Boss clothing will look good on me and makes me feel more confident and powerful. With that being said, I hope to work for them one day. I believe I can sell their clothes.
You’re obviously in demand. We’ve featured several photo shoots of you on Out.com. How’s modeling now that you’ve gone through the competition?
Modeling has been good to me! Living in NYC also is a perk. I’ve been focused on my career, tapping into my strong social media accounts, meeting and networking with people, doing runways and going to castings. I’m glad I didn't wait to let ANTM happen, but worked for it while it aired. Sitting back and waiting for success to happen will never work. You need to take advantage of the platform and use it to turn your career into something amazing.
You’re very comfortable in your own skin. Where does your confidence come from?
I believe that confidence comes from eating healthy and going to the gym five times a week. It does come from something within.
When it comes to modeling, what do you still want to do?
I still want to change perspectives on deaf people. I want to show the world that it is an incredible culture full of amazing people who can do everything.
Do you plan to get back into acting?
Yes, I plan to get back into acting. I hope to land a lot of movie or TV roles!
Are you currently dating?
I am not currently dating anyone. I’ve been too busy with my career! Hopefully [I'll start dating] soon!
Who is your biggest celebrity crush?
Jennifer Lawrence. I love how she is very confident with herself. Her work is also fascinating. I remember when she confessed that she stays at home on a Saturday. I texted my friends about it and told them, “I want to take her out!!!” Let’s hope she reads this, haha!
What’s the biggest misconception about being deaf?
Disability. It is the biggest misconception about being deaf. People think we are disabled and that we need help and need to be fixed. Being deaf is not a disability, but a culture. We do have a culture. We have a beautiful language. We are achieving so much and society keeps missing these achievements and keeps thinking we still need to be fixed. This needs to stop and they need to shift their energy to something else.
How have your friends and family reacted to you being on the show?
They have been so supportive. I have a group text with eight of my deaf best friends, and we always spam each other every time ANTM comes on. As soon as they found out we had to do a music video in one of the episodes, one of them texted saying, "What the hell! That's not fair. The show is setting up Nyle as a deaf contestant to fail!" I laughed and didn't text back. A few minutes later, he texted us all again, "Whoa! Nyle killed the music video! He proved them wrong!" And I replied, "Yeah, deaf people can sing!!!!"
That was a funny moment. There were a lot of people surprised with my many talents like modeling, acting, and even singing! I'm just relieved that I was able to do them all well and prove to the world that deaf people can do anything!
What does winning this competition mean for the deaf community?
It means that the world is making one step further into realizing that deaf people are talented and capable of anything. It means more awareness about our culture. It means that we’ve regained faith in humanity and that everyone should be more willing to pursue their dreams.
What’s next for you?
I am going to continue being a model and inspiring the world! I also have several huge projects that I am involved with. The first one is being a spokesperson for LEAD-K (Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids). And the second one is working with The ASL App. It is an app that teaches conversational ASL! I hope to make ASL mainstream.