Leila Goldkuhl Uncut
By Ashleigh Copeland
“Ever since I was really young, I wanted to model, and I was al- ways taller than everyone else, and really thin,” said twenty-one- year-old model Leila Goldkuhl. Last year, the Framingham, Massachusetts, native catapulted into the spotlight as a contestant on Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model. After several months of competing, Goldkuhl, better known as Leila, headed back to the University of Rhode Island, to figure out what her future in the fashion industry might be.
Leila finished her fall semester as a Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design major. However, she began her studies at URI as a Marine Biology major. After deciding to pursue modeling in her sophomore year, she joined the TMD program. Leila pro- fessed, “I took a leave of absence this semester to explore my options. I’m young now and this is a great opportunity to take advantage of; I can always go back to school.”
For a girl who started seriously pursuing modeling at what is considered to be a late age in the industry, Leila certainly has experienced a lot. Before Top Model, she worked in the New England and New York areas. As a student in Providence, Rhode Island, she worked with creative designer Joseph Segal. He was recently a designer on Season 11 of Project Runway. “When I first went to work with him, he had a design for one of his lines called Pretty Snake. It’s a cat sweater, which is his signature thing. He has cat leggings, and all these funny little things. I was so excited to work with him because I love that stuff,” stated Leila of Segal’s line.
Leila auditioned for ANTM after dreaming about being on the show since the first cycle. Leila said she first auditioned when Tyra Banks advertised for viewers to send in their photos to her talk show. Soon after sending her photo, which became a fan favorite, into the Tyra Show, Leila received a call from an ANTM casting agent to come to New York; she was only eighteen.
After not making it onto the show on her first and second attempts, Leila decided not to audition again. She revealed that being tormented for modeling caused her to be shy, reserved, and unconfident. “I was kind of discouraged after the second time. I shouldn’t have been discouraged, though.”
A year after her second audition, Leila had been modeling in the Boston area, and she gained more experience and confidence. “After I started modeling on my own, I decided I’d audition again. I contacted them [ANTM casting agents] and asked if I could come for one more audition. They could tell I was more confident in myself. And I made it on the show.”
Leila stated that one of her favorite moments on the show involved traveling to Jamaica. She said, “On Top Model, I was praying they’d take us to Paris. Jamaica was amazing, and so warm and beautiful, but I really want to go to Paris someday. I want to model in Paris and experience everything there. It would be great to model couture pieces.”
With the continued support of her family, her boyfriend, Nick, and growing connections in the industry, Leila believes high- fashion modeling could be another opportunity in her future. A valuable connection she made while filming ANTM was with public relations professional Kelly Cutrone. Leila confirmed that Cutrone seems like a mean and awful person on television, but in reality she wants to help models she believes in. Leila said, “She’s actually really great. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with her off camera, and she’s so helpful. She definitely is interested in helping models who she thinks have potential. She’s actually more approachable than she seems.”
Leila shared that meeting Kelly Cutrone was one of the best experiences she took away from the show: “I think people like to have a persona; I probably shouldn’t be telling you [laughing] she definitely is nice. A serious person, but funny, and a good person I’d like to have in my life.”
Leila may be a bicoastal model hanging with the likes of Tyra Banks and Kelly Cutrone, but she still is a Bostonian at heart. She talked about her favorite places in Boston, like the chocolate restaurant, Max Brenner, and The Elephant Walk. For someone with an eclectic sense of style mixing animal prints, cat sweaters, lots of black, “crazy weird things,” and vintage pieces, she loves to frequent the second-time-around stores. Leila expressed, “I really like vintage clothes and styles, things that had a past life. There are very unique stores in Boston.”
She said she will mostly wear things her friends would not and describes her style as bohemian vintage: “I like classic things, but I don’t have a comfort zone like some people do. I really like things with cats on them.”
Reflecting on her own modeling experiences, especially now that her career has really begun, Leila encourages aspiring models in the Boston area to pursue their dreams too. “There is work available in Boston. Nothing like you would see in New York or LA, but it’s definitely a good place to start. It’s [the Boston fashion industry] a really small community, and if a client or photographer likes you, they will set you up with other jobs. That’s how I have got most of my jobs, by word of mouth, or people requesting to work with me. Definitely get into model- ing in Boston if you want to be a student too,” explained Leila.
Shortly after Leila’s interview with POLISHED, she signed a contract with Next Model Management in Los Angeles. She also booked a campaign for Guess, shot in South Africa. Leila attributed these opportunities to America’s Next Top Model, which opened so many doors for her.
Leila can be reached through any of her social media outlets; you can friend her on Facebook by going to facebook.com/LeilaGoldkuhl or you can follow her on twitter @LeilaGoldkuhl, and Instagram @Leilss4reals.