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What the Hell Happened to Project Runway's Jeffrey Sebelia?

Oh, Jeffrey. You won Project Runway 3, despite allegations of cheating launched at you by pregnant nemesis Laura, making a fellow contestant's mother cry, and a general air of self-entitlement spurred on by a mixture of cockiness, success, and a variety of neck tattoos. So, what's become of you since the camera stopped rolling?

I'm not the only one who's been wondering what former Project Runway contestant Jeffrey Sebelia has been up to since he won the fashion reality series' top prize, including $100,000, a Saturn, and a mentorship with Macy and I.N.C.

In fact, New York Magazine's Amy Larocca has an extremely candid interview with Sebelia in this week's issue, in which he admits that he's broke and his next gig is fact designing costumes for the upcoming live-action Bratz motion picture. That $100K grand prize went to paying off a huge debt for his clothing line (that would be Cosa Nostra, which once dressed Gwen Stefani, most likely in her pre-L.A.M.B. days); by the end of the interview, he's scrounging for $3 to pay the valet. Ouch.

And as for the persona he embodied over the course of the season, it was definitely as pre-thought-out as his designs. "I thought I'd start out really dark and annoying," Sebelia tells Larocca. Furthermore, according to the New York Magazine piece:

"Sebelia wasn’t surprised he made the callbacks nor that he was picked as one of fifteen contenders on the show. His plan was to be the Santino of Season 3. Being a jerk had paid off for his friend, who’d made it to the finals, and Sebelia knew that a hated reality-show star was more valuable than a popular one. 'I was fully prepared to be in front of the cameras and say outlandish things and make people snicker,' Sebelia says."

Hmmm. Since the filming, Sebelia's fallen on hard times: the breakup of his relationship with girlfriend Melanie (the mother of his son Harrison), the repayment of Cosa Nostra's massive debt, and a gradual distance from the judges and producers of Project Runway.

And that mentorship with Macy's that was promised as part of the Project Runway prize package? According to Sebelia, it was "slow to begin."

So how is Sebelia paying the bills nowadays? “I’m almost afraid to admit what I’m doing, but it’s costumes for a movie,” he tells Larocca. “It’s a live-action movie for the Bratz ... Yeah, those slutty dolls.”

It's a little frightening to think that the winner of Project Runway would be reduced to such circumstances, but it's not as though previous winners Jay McCarroll or Chloe Dao have since made huge splashes in the fashion world since their turns on the Project Runway catwalk. Still, given Sebelia's drive and innate talent (his final runway show really was stunning), I am surprised at how things have turned out for him.

Is it Karma? Does putting on a spiteful and arrogant persona on a nationally televised reality show make people less likely to take you seriously as a designer and businessman? Or is the prize at the end of the catwalk just really not all that much in the end?

You decide. But regardless, it's a hell of a profile and a no-holds-barred glimpse into Sebelia's world.

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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions junior exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.

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