Lincoln’s Amanda Valentine is back for the current season as a designer on Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway,” and, unlike her previous effort, “this time I did it right,” she said in a recent phone interview.
She’s already made it to the finals, has shown her collection during New York City’s fashion week, and on the 8 p.m. Thursday episode on Lifetime (Time Warner Cable channels 54, 211, 1211), viewers will find out whether Valentine wins it all.
Valentine, 33, got a second chance (she was on the show two-and-a-half years ago) when she won this season’s open slot, after receiving the most votes on a ballot of past contestants.
“It happened really quickly,” Valentine said from her home in Nashville. As a freelance stylist, Valentine sets her own schedule. “Thank goodness I am flexible.” Unfortunately, she didn’t have much time to strategize, either, she said.
Going into this competition, she had a completely different outlook than in season 11.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be the best sewer," she said. "And I am not the fastest pattern maker.
“But I was more laser-focused about what I wanted to accomplish and who I am dressing.”
Valentine, who graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she also knew what to expect: sleepless nights and lots of pressure.
“It is physically and emotionally exhausting,” she said. “But I was prepared to give 1000 percent every day.”
Having cameras in the workroom was less of a distraction this time for Valentine. At times there would be four to six of them, and she said, “you forget about them.” Watching the finished shows is a little nerve-racking because “you wonder, ‘What did they catch me doing?’” Valentine said.
The scariest part of this show for her: “Putting yourself out there.” But she said, “You have to do that.”
Valentine doesn’t read the blogs about the show. Fans are really vocal, and she does follow their responses on Twitter and Facebook.
She no longer worried about being tagged “the nice one.” This season, Valentine stands up for herself more. “I believe you can be confident and stand up and not be mean,” she said.
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She identifies herself as a "Midwestern girl" and believes Lincoln was a great place to grow up -- "so clean and safe."
Valentine is in it to win it this time. “Winning would be the best redemption ever,” Valentine told designer mentor, Tim Gunn in the most recent episode.
Her clothing got better responses from the judges this season, too. Valentine is a fan of judge Nina Garcia, editor of Marie Claire magazine. “I think she is a genius,” she said. “I respect her so much.”
Valentine describes her style as “graphically Bohemian.” One of her favorite designs was built around a psychedelic yetti graphic poster that got lots of social media buzz.
Her New York collection was a bridge between Bohemian and Mod, she said.
All of Valentine's efforts worked this time. After a season of the usual workroom drama and weekly challenges, Valentine was declared one of four finalists.
The shows were filmed mostly in June and July. An added surprise was a three-day trip to Rome right before New York’s fashion week. Valentine took some inspiration from the Italian architecture and designed a jewelry collection that she showed with her clothing.
Showing at fashion week was the ”coolest thing ever.” Her family attended, including her brother, James Valentine, who is in the band Maroon Five. “I’ve watched him play in a sold-out stadium, and I was glad he got to see me do this,” she said.
Valentine’s most recent show-biz opportunity was a small part on the ABC television show, “Nashville,” which takes place in the town where she lives with her husband, Will Holland. Her role was that of a stylist (which Valentine does in real life) for one of the country western stars. “They called me,” she said. “It was terrifying.” No plans in her future for acting, she said.
Right now, her focus is on restructuring her design business a bit and building her brand, she said. In addition to her Valentine Valentine label, she is adding a higher-end line, called, simply, “Amanda Valentine.”
On Thursday, Valentine and her husband -- who don't have cable television -- will be watching at a friend's cocktail bar.
Stay tuned for her next design adventure.