Former student not so camera shy

Karon Parrish
Photo courtesy of NBC
SI model -- Former UAM student Krisi Ballentine competed in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Model Search, which aired in January. Download this picture at

   Krisi Ballentine, a former University of Arkansas -- Monticello student, may have come from a small town but she is lighting up the big city with her infectious smile and winning personality with her recent stint on the NBC reality show “Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Model Search.”

   Ballentine first heard about the 2004 contest when they asked for potential participants to complete an online application. She thought about it but never went through with it. However, a production assistant she works with said she should try it when it came up again.

   The NBC executives changed the format of the 2005 contest and required all applicants to complete a series of applications and then interview with the casting director for the show. 

   Ballentine was not as prepared as she wanted to be for the interview. She literally stepped off a plane in Los Angeles from Tahoe coming from another fashion shoot and was racing to get to the Sports Illustrated interview.

   “I was running around like crazy trying to make it and just as I arrived they called my name,” Ballentine said.

   To keep all the applicants in suspense the executives told all the girls thank you for coming but we are going to place you as an alternate. One week after the interview she received a call from the casting company letting her know she had been selected as a participant. Not until after the show was filming did Ballentine learn that the executives had told all the girls the same thing.

   “I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was dreaming. You apply for things like this but it doesn’t hit you that you could win,” Ballentine said.

   One of the most difficult segments of the show was to have the camera man follow her around 24 hours a day.

   “I would be sleeping and wake up in the middle of the night and there the camera was, in my face. I just tried to ignore them and keep focused on what I was there for,” Ballentine said.

   More difficult than living with a camera 24 hours a day was the fact that she could say nothing until the last show aired Feb. 9. Even then she still was limited on what she could say and also do. She was not allowed to accept other fashion shoots that included swimsuits or lingerie until the release from the contract after the final show aired.

   “I’ve had some wonderful opportunities because of the show. I’ve been to places I never thought I would be able to go. At least I made it half way through the contest before being eliminated and I had so much fun while I was there. But the most rewarding part was meeting all the girls on the show. All the girls worked really hard. The last two remaining girls, Alicia and Shannon deserved to be there because they were the best,” Ballentine said.

   Ballentine travels constantly and works out of Los Angeles where there are more fashion contacts than Little Rock. She keeps an apartment in Little Rock to stay connected to her roots and gives credit to her success to several people, including her grandmother who was not only was her role model but also raised her. 

   Her first big modeling contract before NBC’s "Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Model Search" television show came from being crowned Miss Hawaiian Tropic International and receiving the Body Glove modeling contract. Anheuser-Busch sponsored the pageant and Ballentine has been able to travel to many destinations due to them.

   Ballentine set her goals high since she was a teenager and it has shown by becoming a 2000 honor graduate of Monticello High School, where she was a cheerleader and homecoming queen. While attending UAM, she was the 2001 homecoming queen, a member of the Student Activities Board, a Student Ambassador, a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and a cheerleader.

   Ballentine’s future plans include continuing to take modeling assignments and perhaps one day sign with a major magazine. She would also like to continue her education.

    “My advice for girls wanting to get into modeling is to find a good reputable agent. If you can find someone that you feel comfortable with and that has your best interest in mind then that will save you so much time, and headaches. I’ve known girls who tried to be their own agents or had someone who wasn’t very good for them and they just didn’t make it. It’s a tough business, but with determination, hard work and lots of prayers you can make it,” Ballentine said.

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