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Local lands spot on 'Top Model'

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Anslee Payne-Franklin was a contender recently on "America's Next Top Model." The Dacula native made it through seven weeks of the reality show competition before being eliminated April 21.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Anslee Payne-Franklin was a contender recently on "America's Next Top Model." The Dacula native made it through seven weeks of the reality show competition before being eliminated April 21.

She may not be "America's Next Top Model," but Anslee Payne-Franklin still sees a modeling career in her future.

After seven weeks as a contender on the CW reality show, Payne-Franklin was eliminated April 21 when the seven remaining finalists were narrowed down to six.

The show, created by former super model Tyra Banks, follows 13 women trying to break into the modeling industry by competing in different photo shoots each week. A panel of judges, including Banks, critiques the photos and eliminates one woman each week.

The Dacula native's face was her ticket on the show, an opportunity that started with a phone call from her longtime photographer's wife followed by encouragement from her best friend.

"His wife is completely obsessed with the show. She's watched it religiously from day one and she called me one night when I was actually at work and said that they were casting in Atlanta and that I should go," Payne-Franklin said. "I thought about it and my best friend who actually worked with me at Wild Bill's said, 'We'll go. If for nothing else than going, you get to say you at least tried.' It was just that extra push from her that made me go down there and they picked me."

Of 400 women who auditioned in Atlanta, the 23-year-old was one of two selected to move on to the show, now in its 14th season.

Her elimination came after the judges decided she was a better "beauty model" -- she had a pretty face but didn't know how to move her body for the camera.

Payne-Franklin said she didn't take the criticism as personally as some might think.

"I kind of took it in the good sense and came back home and did a couple test shoots and typical things like posing in front of a mirror and working on my body and just trying to become a better model all around and not just with my face," she said.

Now that she's had time following the elimination to hone her skills, Payne-Franklin said she's just waiting to get her portfolio from the show and will continue to pursue her modeling career.

"I have had some offers placed on the table for me as far as local stuff to do and some of them are really interesting," she said. "I wish I could go into detail but I can't. I have an open mind and an open ear and I'm just waiting for the right thing to come around. I don't want to be that person that just jumps at the first opportunity."

While a contestant on "Top Model," Payne-Franklin lived in New York where she shared a house with the 12 other aspiring models from around the country. She said it was a huge change to be in the Big Apple after growing up in rural Georgia.

"It's kind of a little overwhelming to be the little girl from a little city going to the big city," she said. "Everything about that area and that region of the country is completely opposite from where I live. You know it was kind of a bit overwhelming to be thrown into that atmosphere when you're kind of used to the slower pace of life. There's constantly stuff going on."

Aside from the pressure of weekly photo shoots, Payne-Franklin had to deal with different personalities all under one roof. She said she managed to stay true to herself and not get caught up in all the drama between the other girls in the competition.

"I wanted to look back on the show and be proud of myself and not be disappointed in myself," she said. "I told my mom the day before I left that no matter what happened I was always going to be myself. I wasn't gonna alter (anything) from who I really am so that if my family and friends watched the show they would know 110 percent, that's me. I wanted to give people who I really am -- not somebody that I'm not."

Although her time on "Top Model" was cut short and she missed the opportunity to travel with the show to New Zealand, Payne-Franklin said she was happy to come home to her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

"Yes it's disappointing, but I got to go home and be back with my family," she said. "My family is so much bigger to me than going overseas. I have such a great family and such an amazing husband to let me go off and do what I did."