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Nicolet grad storms 'Top Model' runway

Feb. 27, 2012

Can a model from Milwaukee beat back a British invasion?

Viewers will have to wait until 8 p.m. Wednesday to watch "America's Next Top Model - British Invasion" when Milwaukee's Ashley Livingston competes on the show.

The 25-year-old Nicolet High School grad, who goes by the professional name AzMarie, will compete with American models against a group of British models for fashion contracts, designer clothing and a mega-infusion of career power.

Livingston will be a formidable foe. At 5-foot-9 3/4 with a shaved head and tattoos, the former high school basketball player is the image of a young Grace Jones. And that's no accident, Livingston said.

"I love Grace Jones. She's why I'm able to do the androgynous look, Livingston said in a phone interview.

Livingston attended Garfield Elementary and Whitefish Bay Middle School and learned to enjoy sports and photography along with writing. But it was at age 9, during the year she spent with her father in Los Angeles, that she became interested in modeling.

"I tried to get into agencies, but it didn't work," she said.

Modeling success came after high school, and she has appeared in magazines including Today's Black Woman and Essence Hair Magazine. She's done cameo roles in "The Real Housewives of New York City," "Precious" and "Rip the Runway."

She also has traveled in Britain and, she said, "personally, I think that might have been a good thing for the show." She was scouted and signed to appear in this first-ever British smack-down "Top Model" season.

Though she wouldn't give much away, Livingston said the show will reveal "how you get your look. It will be exciting for everyone to see how I handled it. I don't want to spoil it."

What Livingston will say is that she had plenty of fun doing the show.

"The most fun I had was hearing I was part of it and I was going to compete. I'm very androgynous, and I got to really bring something very different to the show."

So how did Livingston get along with the runway stars from across the pond?

"I'm very strong, but I'm also a mediator," she said. "And I made 13 great friends on the show, and we all still communicate."

The hardest part of the competition? "Hearing what the judges had to say about my work."

Those judges can be tough. Although the exact makeup of the panel is another secret, it will include model/mogul Tyra Banks and fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone.

But the impressive prize list is worth any pain the judges can dish out. The show's winner will get everything from a spread in Vogue Italia and a CBS music deal to a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics.

Although fans will have to stay tuned to see how Livingston does on "Top Model," she plans to keep working in various media. She'll continue modeling, but she also wants to act and record music. She's already written her own film.

"You know someone from Milwaukee goes the whole way," she said with a laugh.

'America's Next Top Model - British Invasion'

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: The CW (WVTV-TV Channel 18)

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