Lisa D'Amato: From Top Model to Top Businesswoman (Exclusive Interview)
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Lisa D'Amato has gone from top model to top businesswoman (and mother!) over the years. We got the opportunity to chat with her about her about her business and her past.
You know Lisa D'Amato as the wild child with the stunning photos from the hit reality show, America's Next Top Model (ANTM) seasons 5 and 17, and after taking over the worlds of modeling and reality TV, she is now taking over the business world. After coming in 6th page in season 5 of ANTM, she came back to win the All Stars season 17. Since then, she has modeled for Swindle Magazine, H&M, Elle Girl, Old Navy and Vogue Italia just to name a few. D'Amato is also known her for incredible music and appearing on other reality shows like Celebrity Rehab and Marriage Bootcamp.
Most recently she appeared on season 10 of Shark Tank, where she pitched her product and business, Dare-U-Go (AKA the dream product for every mom out there). After winning a deal with 'Shark' Barbara Corcoran, her business took off! Check out the video of her time on the show from Inc.com below.
We interviewed the star on her transition from top model to top businesswoman, where she dishes on her business, family, modeling career, and her experience with Tyra Banks. Read the full interview below:
You are truly multi-talented and successful at everything you’ve done: Model, Businesswoman, Music Artist, Reality Star, Mother. Do you ever get overwhelmed, or do you thrive with a lot of projects going on at once?
You really are too sweet. Hmmm I’m an incredibly active person in general with a lot of energy. Also since I was super young, like 14, I had multiple jobs constantly. Multitasking and being responsible every single day was survival so now as a grown up for many years it’s just a pace I have always continued or challenged. I am never bored because if I am I feel compelled to learn something new. Also, what I find unique about myself compared to others is if I get comfortable I start feeling impatient, I always want to challenge myself and get uncomfortable. Uncomfortable makes me feel comfortable. It’s like home for me. Kinda like I MuST find the next rollercoaster in life.
Although you still share YouTube videos and have endorsements on social media, you seem to be mainly focused on your entrepreneurial venture, Dare-U-Go. Would you say that’s where most of your career focus is now?
No. I would say up until about 6 months ago, sure! In the sense that it needs my full attention because it is a lot of work. It really is a 9-5 Monday- Friday gig to be the CEO of an international brand like Dare-U-Go! I think all the way through becoming a mom, and turning into an inventor/ entrepreneur again [I own a smoke shop] I was still in the gym, maintaining my “public figure” self through and through but time is just limited so a lot of the behind the scenes of making tv pilots, signing contracts with endorsements were still all happening during all of it, it just wasn't seen publicly. For a couple years my Instagram was a very low priority but I’ve picked up that platform with a tactful hand again about two years ago. Honestly, I literally had zero time to even breath. With starting a new company, maintaining an existing one, having a baby and already taking care of toddler. I was losing my mind to say the least. So happy both my kids can walk and talk and help here and now. I so appreciate them being less helpless which comes with growing up. Lol
Speaking of Dare-U-Go, you introduced that product to the world on the hit ABC show, Shark Tank! It was a tense room, especially when Mark Cuban called you a liar. But you definitely won everyone at home, and shark Barbara Corcoran, over after sharing your story of struggling with an eating disorder and now being the incredible mom you never had. What was your experience on that show like? Do you still work with Barbara today?
Thank you. When I went on the show, I had only been on the market for three months and was already in a few countries if I remember correctly. I thought I had done so good with the launch of my product but go into Shark Tank and you will feel like a loser in 5 seconds. Hahaha
The experience going on that show was such a blessing. I got to look at my brand from their perspectives and to really think about my brand and their concerns. At the same time, I realized once the cameras started rolling that it is still very much a TV show and is for entertainment purposes. Don't ever question that. Luckily, I am not one to crumble when confronted with controversy. I stood my ground and I didn't let them break me down for the purpose of television especially when I had already shown my heart and my struggles right before that on my own so everyone could see my true authentic self. Barbara's team is more of an open door business advisor in our corner so that's cool. My team at Dare-U-Go! really appreciate that.
How is the company doing today? It seems like this product has been featured everywhere: Hoda & Jenna, TMZ, Inc., and many others.
Today our little invention/ brand Dare-U-Go! [dareugo.com] is doing great! We are now in 20 countries! We just added India this week. The visibility that we have received on TV, blogs, viral videos, and our content we receive from families all over the world is so incredible. Sometimes I have to just let a tear out because the amount of work and struggle we went through to bring this to life from our imaginations was literally one of the hardest things I have ever done.
We’re happy to hear your business ventures are going well, but a lot of your fans have followed you from your time on the hit reality show, America’s Next Top Model. You placed 6th on Season 5, and came back for Season 17 - the All Stars season - to win! You’ve given your fans so many behind-the-scenes details on the show which is incredible. What was it like to return for the All Stars season in 2011?
Returning to cycle 17 was a little weird to me in the sense that, I came back amongst 13 other alumni. I did not watch their cycles. Most of the girls knew each other from their seasons and
once again, I was walking onto the show just like my original cycle and not being fully aware of the show through the years. They all mostly knew each other by name already. I'm not saying I avoided watching the show through the years but more of I was always so busy living my own life. I was touring doing my music, coming out with albums, modeling here and there, and I had started my first business Up In Smoke Shop. I was just so busy. It really was nothing personal. Also, I was so focused on being the best me for years at that point too so I am/was still so much fun but just way smarter. I knew that I wasn't going to let them trap me in a certain edit again. I was very careful. Wasn't my first rodeo anymore, ya know?
There’s been many models from the show, including you, who have been outspoken against the show and highlighted some controversies such as stirring drama, not letting the cast eat for hours on end, crazy long days for shooting, etc. Do you regret your experience on the show or have any ill feelings towards Tyra + the ANTM team?
No. I think if I didn't get a ton of therapy afterwards through the years, possibly. I think going on a vein competitive reality show you are going to see so much ugly. I also think that sooo many reality shows do the same type of psychological games to really get those ratings with drama. They know what they are doing. Also, if I didn't do the show I wouldn't of had that self reflection of how ppl saw me. How I saw myself. I know I was edited into a character but it was the catalyst that helped mold who I am today. I don't regret anything. I'm so thankful for the show. Television is a beast! You can't blame a beast for being one. It's about $ and fame and drama. period.
Check out her winning moment below.
You were no doubt a fan-favorite in both seasons, but you did bump heads with some of the girls on the show. Do you still talk to any of the girls from either season? It seems like you’re able to keep up with each other on social media which is awesome!
Yeah. I talk to so many of the girls. I love Isis and Laura and Brittany and Bre, even Ebony from cycle 5 I heart her posts. Social media is great like that- we can stay connected. As far as the girls I bumped heads with like Bianca, I like her posts. I think we kinda scratched any beef and kissed and made up but with one eye open. Hahaha I adore the work that Bianca and Bre do in their community though. I always praise them for that. It's really beautiful.
That's great! On a more personal note, you were on Marriage Boot Camp with your husband Adam. It looks like the two of you are still together and happy as ever from the looks of your Instagram. What did you all learn on the show that helped you stay together?
My husband Adam is just my entire heart. I literally feel so blessed to have found my soulmate. On the show we learned our individual love language which blew me away! I was doing for him what I would want and he was doing the same. Just that alone is half the problem. The second thing was I needed to support his doomsday prepping ways instead of poking fun of it. He was obviously very passionate about it and I needed to respect it and learn how deep that stemmed from and why. He also needed to learn how to not trap my shine and free spirit trying to protect me which made me feel smothered. Thus now in our current climate, we were so ready for the world to shut down. He had been prepping for something like this for six years now! Crazy.
So good to hear you all are doing great! As we’ve seen on social media, you’re getting to spend a lot of time working out and spending time with your two boys and husband during this crazy pandemic. Have you been working on any other projects during this time too, or just relaxing with the family?
All I've ever wanted my entire life was to be able to spend proper time with my kids and family. I think my families silver lining of the pandemic was almost a dream come true for the time I got to spend with them. Before this, nothing was working. My husband was feeling lonely because I was so busy. The kids were on such a tight leash with our daily grind as a family. Nothing was manageable. Corporately, Adam and I were facing such extreme circumstances like our bank being exposed with fraud and ignoring us, our Jeep dealership tried to sell us a new engine which wasn't even blown, the IRS was after me because I wasn't allowed to have tax write offs from being pregnant for my modeling which is totally sexist. Can you sew the IRS for being sexist? Dare-U-Go! got ripped off from China even though I have pending patents internationally. The world wasn't working. There was no limit how far people would go to hurt each other, hurt businesses, etc.
That being said, with Black Lives Matter becoming so polarized in the current climate I am happy to announce there are lots of projects in the works. Dare-U-Go! is donating 50% of all website sales to the movement. I am also working with Women Breaking Plates to make it more towards just Breaking Plates and teaching college campuses how to self heal and give them natural remedies to channel their inner strength besides going straight to pharmaceuticals. Think acupuncture, cupping, tarot cards, sound baths, astrology, healing crystals, community within this space, yoga, spells of intention, dancing, different foods that have healing properties, and with dealing with anger so we will be breaking plates! This is not taught in school. These events will bring men and women together before they leave college and make us all see each other as humans again with souls and energy and hearts.
I'm excited about it! I went to an event created by Aria Tru who has been doing pop ups for yrs and she wants to partner up with me which I was waiting for and feeling this type of future for myself anyway so it kinda lined up perfectly. Also these events proceeds will go to Black Lives Matter, or different programs around the country in the fight for diversity and a helping hand towards equality.
How incredible and generous! What’s next for you? Can we expect any more music, big endorsements or modeling jobs, or additional Dare-U-Go products in the coming months?
I very much feel compelled to write and sing a new song. It has been scratching at my brain almost everyday. I don't know when that will happen because it takes serious concentration but I will make it happen. Everything is so much harder when you have two loud, rambunctious little boys but I'll get it done. My endorsement with Dermafface FX7 is renewed for the seventh year in a row. My endorsement with Skinceptions got renewed for the sixth year in a row so I'm still doing my modeling thing there. I'm working on two other endorsements for Her along with Total Curve. These are products that make it very important for me to keep my body perfect which helps keep me disciplined as far as gym and diet are concerned so I love it!
As far as what my path looks like for the future, I plan to be a blazing force to help people. If it's for being an advocate for Ketamine infusions which literally help give your brain a tune-up so you can think clearly and be the best you can be, or through doing charitable work for the strive towards equality and in that work I plan to be incredibly productive bringing people together. The world needs change and it starts in our brains and in our hearts. That's where I'll be going also while modeling bikini brands on IG for fun!
Dare-U-Go! has a new product that will be coming out which is a disposable biodegradable version for all ages. I'm really excited about it.
There is no stopping Lisa D'Amato, and we can't wait to see her and her business grow! To keep up with her journey, follow her on Instagram (@lisa_damato).
Love ANTM? Check out our interview with Cycle 18's Runner-Up, Laura LaFrate.