From 'ANTM' to 'Hung'
By this point, every reality show worth talking about has featured at least one contestant who transcends the genre and become a bigger star than ever imagined. American Idol has Jennifer Hudson, Survivor has Elizabeth Hasselbeck, The Real World has Jamie Chung and America's Next Top Model has Analeigh Tipton.
Although she placed third in cycle 11 of Tyra Banks' reality competition, she's gone on to star in The Green Hornett, this summer's Crazy Stupid Love and, currently, HBO's Hung. I chatted with Analeigh "Yo" Tipton about the perceptions of a former reality star in Hollywood, how her "flaws" are now positives and what you can expect from her increasingly insane pimp-in-training, Sandee!
Insider.com: Walk me through the process of going from America's Next Top Model to working actress.
Analeigh Tipton: It was very natural, but very unnatural at the same time. I did theater growing up, so acting was always something I enjoyed but was never my plan. In fact, I probably judged actors quite harshly. Then again, didn't plan on modeling either – it was more of an opportunity that came up. Whenever I talk to people, they always ask how it feels to be a model turned actor. Which is so weird because I never felt like a model. I did the show because, why wouldn’t you? After Top Model I went back to school and had a friend suggest I audition for commercials. And it all kind of happened from there. I'm proud of the fact I was on ANTM, but the jobs I have gotten, most of the directors didn't know I was on reality TV. For me, it's been validating to know I got the job based on talent. The two worlds were so disconnected in my own head, I'm glad they were disconnected for them as well.
Insider: What was the experience like working on Crazy Stupid Love alongside Julianne Moore and Steve Carell?
Analeigh: Absolutely humbling. The fact the director gave me that opportunity is amazing. There was a lot riding on it and they let me really bring everything I wanted to, to the role. Working with Steve, Julianne and the cast – they make everyone feel like "you're somebody." It's such a strange thing. They're so humble and kind. There was no intimidation working with them because everyone was on an equal playing field. It let me learn so much about the process quite quickly.
Insider: What was the biggest lesson you took away from that experience?
Analeigh: Be nice. Truthfully, I think everyone on that set was so kind to everybody. Luckily, that's a recurring theme with the people I've continued to work with. Because at the end of the day, you're only as good as the person you're acting next to.
Insider: You're currently starring on HBO's Hung, as Sandee -- the fiancee of new gigolo Jason (played by Stephen Amell). What do you think of her?
Analeigh: Well, this is my first experience with episodic television and I had no idea what to expect because the character is unfolding in real time as we get the scripts. She begins as this completely naive baker and develops into a bit of a crazy [laughs]. She becomes this pimp-in-training, who will flip on a dime, and completely capitalizes on the fact her fiancee is hung. But she still maintains her sweet demeanor while saying things like, "I just really want you to f*** my fiancee" with a smile. Clearly I based it on real life experiences [laughs]. It's been fun to explain to my father.
Insider: Well, you're just doing your civic duty, letting Stephen Amell spread the love around.
Analeigh: I feel the same way. We were on set and a few extras were staring at Stephen. I brought him over so they could just feel his stomach. I definitely take my work home with me [laughs]. I don't think he minded too much. I have to say though, he is one of those annoyingly naturally good-looking guys. I mean, that guy eats some serious pancakes and still rocks those abs.
Insider: You were saying that Sandee changes in the weeks to come -- how so?
Analeigh: I think she comes across as a little naive in the beginning, but as the episodes wear on, you see how she plays different people in different ways – that's when you realize she's crazy smart. Emphasis on the crazy [laughs]. It builds, revealing a little more every week, leading up to some pretty insane moments. To put it lightly [laughs].
Insider: I have to say, although Hung is about male prostitutes, I've always been amazed by the amazing female characters it presents.
Analeigh: It's also created by a woman and a lot of the directors are women, so it's an incredible opportunity to be working with such a smart group of woman. It's hard to find projects in Hollywood where the women stand on their own, are unique, well-rounded and not your typical foils. They open up to something so much bigger – and that is very much Hung. Even the women who are pretty much on the show just to screw the dudes are doing it because of some really interesting character motivation.
Insider: Sounds like you're not interested in characters that anyone could play.
Analeigh: I've been lucky enough to get some pretty amazing roles so far. I have a lot of strange quirks about me, and it's serving me pretty well in this career. Things that I tried to "fix" growing up are now working to my advantage, so I feel like I am finally being myself in this job.
Hung airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO