Posted Aug. 22, 2007 -- Toccara’s debut on “America’s Next Top Model” was just the beginning of a life she dreamed of as a child.
A loser of the model competition, Toccara went on to be a huge winner, turning her 15 minutes of fame into a glamorous career. We’ve seen her in Essence and Vibe magazine, on the cover of King magazine, as well as on the tube. Her current gig is host of BET’s live, interactive game show, “Take the Cake.”
We caught up with the busy body in New Orleans where she was hosting a McDonald’s fashion show.
What’s so cool about your life?
I am living my dream! This is the dream job. I wish I could sing, but I can’t. So, since I couldn’t be a singer I decided I was going to be an actress or a model. I wanted to do something, and here I am.
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What’s your title? Can you fit everything you do into a job description?
I don’t know. I got a whole lot of slashes – model/TV host/VJ/personality/entrepreneur. I want to thank everybody, all the fans, all the viewers, and all the people who love my bigness, my fullness and my curvaceousness. I want to thank my stylist too.
So your stylist gets all the credit?
No, I want to thank Toccara too. I always have to watch what I wear. “Toccara doesn’t wear that! Toccara will not look good in that!” (Laughs) They laugh at me when I talk in third person.
I’m laughing too. Why do you talk in third person?
It’s like Beyoncé ... Toccara. I’m creating a brand.
What kind of brand?
There’s no Black plus-size supermodel out there – now they have Toccara.
Does your weight define you?
I'm Toccara, and my weight doesn’t define me. No, really. The thing is, I’ve always loved Toccara from day one. I’m so comfortable with me and secure with me, that even if I decide to lose weight and wanted to be thin, as long as it’s OK with me and I except it, then it’s OK. And, for those who don’t except it, that’s their problem. I’m going to be successful, regardless.
PAGE 2 >> Toccara on Beyoncé, Queen Latifah and Tyra Banks.
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So you’re content with your size?
I’m not trying to lose any weight. I eat healthy and that’s what it is about. There’s a fine line that I walk on because I don’t want to promote unhealthy habits and say that it’s OK to be obese or overweight. But at the same time, I want people to love who they are and love their shapes and sizes, because some people are just bigger than others and that’s just the way life is. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. You can’t judge people or determine them by their physical appearances. On “Celebrity Fit Club” I proved that. I was 200 pounds, but I still outran everyone. I was one of the heaviest girls, but I was the most athletic girl, too.
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Have you always been bigger than your peers?
No. I gained weight in my 20s. I didn’t even know plus-size models existed. I wanted to be a regular-size model. I didn’t realize how much awareness I brought to the plus-size industry. Even the relatively thin girls know who I am, what I do and what I represent.
Who do you look up to besides Beyoncé?
I don’t look up to anyone in particular. I look up to a lot of celebrity females for their business savvy. Queen Latifah is such a mainstream person. She has broken down so many barriers. She’s a rapper, singer, actor, model. She has accomplished everything, and I really admire that about her. Beyoncé is the real style diva, and she also has the whole branding thing down pat. And Tyra Banks is a really great mentor. Everything she has taught me, I can see that in Beyoncé.
You’ve met Beyoncé, Queen Latifah. Do you ever get star-struck?
Queen Latifah and Beyoncé – those two are my homies. No, I used to back in the day, but I’m old now. I met everyone that I ever wanted to meet. I did get star-struck when I met Oprah.
After losing on “Top Model,” you didn’t miss a beat. Did you ever expect your life would end up like this?
I think the public was rooting for me. When I got eliminated, I felt like the underdog. They were so proud of me, and that’s why I had so much support and so much love. They wanted to see me win.