Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Ronnie Kroell: America’s Next Darling

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Relationships on November 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm


You saw him grow and emerge on Make Me A Supermodel, now get to know the man behind the poses –  as he talks about what it was like to be on the hit television show, what his perfect mate consists of, and yes, even politics!

I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times, but how did it feel going from Illinois to the biggest city in the world to embark on the chance of a lifetime?

RK: To be completely honest, it is a scary thing. Our experience living in NYC for MMASM was reality, but it really wasn’t … let me explain. How many models do you really know that live in a $20 million dollar NYC home, get driven around in a Mercedes, and have every expense taken care of? While in the house we were protected from the “real world” – the one in which I am currently living along with everyone else out there. I compare the show to a mother bird preparing her young to fly and then pushing them out of the nest; it’s either fly or fall. 

Well, I am happy to say that I am flying thanks to all the wind that my fans and supporters are sending my way each and every day. On those especially difficult days here in NYC, when I am missing home and my family, a simple smile or hello from someone on the street that supported me during the show makes all the difference. It reminds me of why I took the risk to move in the first place, and it motivates me to keep pushing forward. It may be cliché, but life really is all about the journey – the people you meet, the experiences you have, the obstacles you overcome, and the lessons we learn as we grow. The journey itself makes achieving the end worthwhile and in my opinion. Chartering a difficult track makes me appreciate arriving at the finish line that much more than if it was handed to me on a silver platter. Chicago will always be home sweet home for me, but in the meantime, New York has opened its doors to me and I am enjoying the ride!! 

Let’s be honest, is being a model all glitz and glamour, or does it take a little heart and soul? Was being a model your first career choice?

RK: Modeling is one of the most competitive and grueling industries next to the political arena, in many ways these two worlds have a lot in common. I personally was attracted to the industry at a young age because of the idea of dressing up and pretending to be something that I wasn’t. It was a challenge and an outlet to explore my creative self. Certainly, the industry has a lot of glitter and glamour, but I do not let the sequins blind me to the reality that exists. You cannot be in this industry if you cannot handle being criticized every time you turn around because that is the nature of the beast. As a model, you will go on hundreds of go-sees and you may be adored by some clients and many others will smile and say thanks, but no thanks (in a Palin-like voice). 

As Heidi Klum says, “one day you’re in and one day you’re out,” but it’s important never to get discouraged. For every few no’s that you receive a yes is just around the corner. The key is patience and the ability to learn from your mistakes, so that you can improve your performance. The bottom line is that you have to take the industry seriously, but not THAT seriously to the point where it consumes you. It is important to stay grounded and in touch with yourself and be true to that, whatever that looks like for each person respectively. I can see how the industry can turn rising stars into falling stars in a heartbeat because they become victim to the party life, drug scene, and their desire to be “it” even if it costs them their emotional and physical well being. This industry takes heart, soul, and above all else a strong backbone. I cannot say that modeling was my very first career choice, nor will it be my last career choice because in life it is important to reinvent ourselves. 

My good friend Elias, of Twin Spirit Tribe (www.twinspirittribe.com), explained to me, “Ronnie, you are like a Kaleidoscope exploring different parts of yourself and engaging your various talents pulling a little from here and little from there. Each part respectively is unique and at times confusing, but when you combine the various interests a beautiful image is created, one that speaks magnitude of who you have been, who you are, and who you will become.”

The country saw this beautiful friendship evolve over the course of the show … Do you still stay in touch with your bromance partner, Ben? 

RK: Ben and his wife April actually live in Brooklyn, not too far away from me. Yes, we do still stay in touch and see each other on a regular basis.

Has modeling thus far opened any other doors for you? Career wise? Relationship wise?

RK: Being on the show has opened some doors and closed some as well. Reality shows can help and hurt your career in many ways, but overall I feel that it has helped. It has certainly allowed me to cross over and do some more acting work, which I would love to do more of as time goes on. The most important thing that I have learned in this beautiful, but at times very crazy industry is that you cannot compromise yourself for anything or anyone.

Describe your absolute perfect boyfriend:

RK: His name is Zach Hickman – a beautiful man with a big heart. He didn’t even watch the show, which I love even more than the fact that he is not in the industry at all. I like to be challenged by my partner and inspired by him to be the best me possible. Above all else I love to be in a relationship where individuality is not lost, which happens all too often. I enjoy that he values nature and the simple things in life, but more than that he is not afraid to show his affection towards me in public places. I love to hold hands and I could care less what people around me might say or the looks of disapproval that get shot our way.

Are you currently on the prowl or laying low for awhile?

RK: You can’t lie low if you have high standards!!


On your website, ronniekroell.com, you say that you are very involved in politics and public policy—how so? Would you focus on human rights and the GLBT community?

RK: One of my greatest passions in life is people, but more than that it is about protecting and representing peoples’ interests. In order to do that one must understand what it looks like to be an advocate for a number of different cultures and groups. I love to people watch and spend time traveling to learn about traditions, beliefs, and customs that are similar to and different from my own. I became involved in politics when I was 19 years old and worked as a staff assistant at the Illinois Republican Party office in Chicago. At that time I was neither Republican nor Democrat, but was thirsty for the experience. While there, I dove head first into one of the most fascinating arenas I had ever encountered. I began to learn about political parties and platforms, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I certainly over time have proudly supported organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and Equality Illinois. I intend to continue to do so in my political endeavors, but of course would not limit my efforts to those causes. I am also very motivated by the need to improve our educational system, find a cure for cancer & hiv-aids, and to reduce hate crimes and discrimination. My most recent political adventure was on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton, an experience I will not soon forget — what a remarkable women. Now, the most important thing we can do is elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

Please give advice to anyone in the GLBT community who may be struggling with their sexuality:

RK:   I lived in the closet for a while and it was quite possibly one of the loneliest times of my life. I felt as though I was hiding a dirty secret, I was ashamed, and many times I thought to myself what is the point of living? For those of you out there struggling with your sexuality, please know that you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, everything is right with you!! One time I was asked the question, “If you could change the fact that you are gay, would you?” At first I was offended and then I responded, “If I answer NO, then if just affirms the belief that being gay is a choice, but if I answer YES, then I am showing a lack of self confidence, respect, and appreciation for all that God has made me to be. It’s a lose/lose question.

Sexuality is a very personal issue – everyone’s journey will be different and unfortunately there is no simple equation to follow. The truth is, being gay is not a choice. I don’t know anyone that would chose a life that could lead to constant struggle, ridicule, and the potential of being brutally beaten to death like our friend Matthew Sheppard. Being gay IS, on the other hand though, a part of who we are that should be celebrated and embraced. The problem that I believe plagues the gay community, as a result of discrimination and hate over time, is that we can spend too much time focused on this one aspect of who we are as an individual. We carry it like a scarlet letter on a rainbow t-shirt, but in doing so we sometimes lose sight of the other beautiful gifts we have been given that make us who we are. There is nothing wrong with pride, but it is important to remember that being gay is only a small percentage of the incredible person you are!! 

I have NO tolerance for intolerance and hope that as time goes on that more and more LGBT & Q individuals out there will become more confident in their own skin. We teach others how to treat us and it is up to us to show our friends, family, and community what that looks like. For starters, we need to stop using the term sexual orientation and replace it with “personal orientation”. Sexual orientation leads others to believe that the only reason you are in a relationship is for sex and negates the existence of the heart and the mind. Secondly, we need to build bridges between the gay and straight communities if we ever truly want to drop the qualifiers and simply say, “community.” Lastly, we need to continue to educate ourselves and others and stop allowing fear from preventing us from breaking the silence. 

In the words of my late grandma Lee when she found out I was gay, “Just be you”.

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?



The ocean or a lake?



Cook or take-out?



Blonds or brunettes?



What kind of car do you drive?

 I take the train.


Favorite candy bar?



Favorite website?



  • Interview conducted by J. Federico

Image sources:
-Ronnie on Instinct Cover. Photo by Bruno Rand, styled by Sean Krebs, hair and makeup by William Murphy (at Solas Bar, NYC)
-Ronnie and Senator Hillary Clinton