20 Questions: CariDee English

CariDee English, a 21-year-old from Fargo, N.D., appeared on “America’s Next Top Model” last December and was the winner. She visited Capitol Hill on Monday and Tuesday to discuss her personal battle with psoriasis.

Was this your first time on Capitol Hill?

Yes, it was — it was amazing.

What political party do you prefer?
I don’t have one. I’m just independent. I go with what people’s views are and I decide from there.

But doesn’t that make you wishy-washy?
No, I’d just say more independent.

So you’re not rooting for anyone for president?

I can’t make a judgment right now. For now, I definitely don’t have an answer.

You were here to discuss psoriasis. How long have you had it?

I’ve had psoriasis for 15 years. I first had it when I was five. It got so bad that it covered 70 percent of my body. Two years ago, I took a new medication that cleared it up. Not cured it; there is no cure.

Is it hard for you to discuss such a private problem publicly?

No, it’s a lot easier. If I had known someone it would have been a lot easier. It’s actually a release, opening your closet and taking the skeletons out. It’s an emotional, physical thing. It’s really devastating.
 
Is it the type of thing where you want people to know that even beautiful people have what some may consider to be ugly problems?
It’s more that somebody who’s in the spotlight and whose job depends on physical appearance. Don’t let it hinder you. Don’t let a disease make you stop your dreams.

What has been the hardest part about living with psoriasis?
I think the hardest was the fact that there is not a cure is hard to swallow, besides the whole emotional [aspect] of having a really noticeable disease on the outside. 

What are your impressions of Capitol Hill?

It was fun. It was really nice that the people came in and listened to what I had to say. I think it’s really good for the Psoriasis Foundation. It was an amazing time.

Did you meet with any lawmakers?

The lawmakers I met with [included] Reps. David Wu (D-Ore.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.). The senators were Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

That’s an impressive schedule.

Yeah, it’s great.

Now we’re going to talk about the show a little bit. Why do you think two of the seven models (including yourself) are from North Dakota? What’s the secret?

Cold winters, so people keep each other warm. There are a lot of people with Scandinavian roots that come from North Dakota, really structured, chiseled human beings that mate and produce these women [laughs]. When you’re living in a smaller state, you really want to get out, so you’re going to do what you can to make your dream come true.

Tyra Banks is the show’s host. What do you think of her?

Oh, Tyra Banks, man, she’s amazing. Her fame is about helping other people.
 
What was she like behind the scenes?
Very sweet. She listens. She gives her advice.

Do you think she should have been parading around in that bathing suit that made her look overweight?
That was just a bad angle. I was with her two weeks ago having lunch. She looks phenomenal.

People say you’re bubbly. Do you agree?

Yes. [Laughs] Bubby and overflowing.

Still love the modeling industry?

Of course. I love all the opportunities I’ve gotten out of this. I have a CoverGirl cosmetics campaign, JCPenney, I’ve done some acting. I think I’m more excited when people recognize me.

What are you doing with the $100,000 prize from “ANTM”?

Living in New York, it doesn’t go too far. Thank God I have another JCPenney campaign.

What’s the dream now that you’ve fulfilled your dream of being a professional model?
My biggest dream now is to buy a house made out of diamonds. No, really, to have a family, a good husband, kids, ones you don’t want to give up after a couple years, and to be content within yourself. I think that’s important.

What do your parents think of your accomplishment?

They’re so proud of me. My mom is actually with me today on Capitol Hill. My dad is super-proud. They are moving out to New York with me. They’re very proud and very supportive of my life and [I give them] new, random presents.

What kind of presents?
Outfits or spa visits or Chippendale dancers. Oh, I’m just kidding.

Have you really bought them presents?
Yeah, of course: massages, clothes, dinners. It’s really fun to spoil your parents. It’s really weird but at the same time it’s really, really fun. 


To recommend a political personality for 20 Questions, call Betsy Rothstein at (202)628-8516 or email at betsyr@thehill.com.