Remember Jael from America’s Next Top Model? Spunky, short haired, in your face Jael from season 8 – the season Jaslene won? With an edgy look and an attitude to match, it was no surprise to find out she dabbled in drugs. The sad truth is, drugs seem to be a plague of the fashion industry. It was shocking, however, to see how drug use has completely transformed her since the 2007 cycle of ANTM on a recent episode of Dr. Phil.
Jael Strauss made it more than half way through her ANTM cycle, but not without some drama. She received word while living in the house that one of her friends back home had died of a drug overdose. In one episode, Jael was criticized by judges and fellow contestants for acting inappropriately at a party, even getting pushed into a pool by rapper 50 Cent. She indicated at various times throughout ANTM that she had a rough childhood, which led to her boisterous ways. It is rumored that she was using pain killers while filming her season.
Now 28 years old, it was revealed that Jael is addicted to cocaine, pain killers and is, as Dr. Phil put it, “a full blown meth addict.” He staged an intervention for the ex-model turned stripper, which she was NOT happy about. After some coaxing from family (and by coaxing, I mean physically forcing her not to run away from the interventionists), she reluctantly agreed to make the trip to the Dr. Phil show to get some help. It was not easy to get her there, with Jael changing her mind several times and being placed on nurse administered drugs to help ease withdrawal systems. Even after she arrived to the set, it was far from over. Just as she was about to walk out on stage to sit down with her father and her mother (who admitted to doing cocaine with Jael in the past), she literally ran the other way and out of the building. The interventionists stated this was the most difficult intervention they’ve ever been a part of.
Walking outside of the studio to talk to her while she sat on a ledge, Dr. Phil was eventually able to connect with Jael. She repeated several times how embarrassing this whole thing was, and how she didn’t want the cameras on her. A big jump from joining a reality show, where the prize is being in front of cameras for a living. Still, she didn’t want the world to see her like that, and I can’t blame her. I watched her season of ANTM and she is now unrecognizable.
In the end, she opened up to the psychologist turned talk show host, and agreed to go to rehab, for which he offered to pay. I can admit, I don’t know too much about the meth world. I don’t even watch Breaking Bad. I am very interested to see her a year from now. And five years from now. Can she stay off of the drugs? Will her face ever recover?
One can only hope that Jael’s struggle, which, whether she wanted it or not, has now become public, will show young girls and aspiring models that drugs are not the way to boost your career. In an interview from the CWSOURCE circa 2007, when asked what her goals were, she answered, “I’m planning on saving the world one way or another. I’m still trying to figure out how, but I’m in true pursuit.” This may be her chance to do just that. But she’s going to have to save herself first.