At age 18, Abigail O’Neil packed up her bags and left behind her native Kansas, along with everyone else she’s ever known — today she’s Playboy’s newest Playmate for May 2019.
And while the 22-year-old has no regrets rounding up $2G and not saying a word to anyone, her road to stardom was far from easy. In fact, the blonde bombshell found herself sleeping in her car before arriving in Los Angeles. Despite landing the major title from the men’s lifestyle magazine, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t worried about what her family might think.
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Fox News spoke with O’Neil about appearing in Playboy, what her dad thinks about the racy snaps, how she’s responding to critics and why she’s not a fan of online dating.
Fox News: What was going through your mind when you learned you’re Playboy’s new Playmate for May 2019?
Abigail O’Neil: At first, I was amazed I finally got it. I think I was a little nervous, but it was exciting. They said it would open up a lot of doors for me, which I’m excited to see. But really, I’m just amazed by it all.
Fox News: You told the magazine you were worried about your father’s reaction. Does he know?
O’Neil: Yes he does. He doesn’t have much to say, to be honest. I thought it was going to be much worse.
Fox News: You previously described being proud of your Midwestern upbringing. Can you tell us more about that?
O’Neil: I was raised in Kansas all of my life. I went to Catholic school. I lived in a city that’s fairly big for Kansas, but nothing compared to Los Angeles. I was raised in a very conservative family. I thought that the first guy I dated I was going to marry. I mean that’s just the lifestyle I was raised in. That’s why I moved. I needed growth. I was kind of restless, I guess.
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Fox News: At age 18, you packed up your bags and left. How difficult was it for you to leave behind everything you’ve ever known?
O’Neil: You know, obviously doing something like that, going out on a whim not knowing what’s going to happen is going to be scary, but I needed it. I was ready for it. I grew up in Kansas all my life and I was itching to get out and travel to new places. I didn’t feel like there was any growth for me there. I felt like I needed something new. Instead of waiting for a job I just forced it. Yes, it was scary, but look at what I have now. It’s helped me grow so much. I’ve lived in three different cities. LA is home for me now… Modeling just fell in my lap.
Fox News: Some people have claimed Playboy would struggle with Hugh Hefner’s passing. How is the brand evolving?
O’Neil: If Playboy hadn’t evolved I would be a lot more skeptical of doing it. It’s definitely more of an art, where that’s not what it started off as. The shoots are more editorial, the style is about what women have to say. Our issues are about freedom of speech… This isn’t just about women being sexy. It’s also about what’s in her brain and what she thinks and what her beliefs are. I think that’s amazing.
Fox News: How did you get over the nerves of posing and knowing that these photos were going to be seen by so many people?
O’Neil: I honestly just wasn’t thinking about that. I was just like enjoying myself and being present in the shoot. I just got in the water and had fun. I didn’t really think about that because I knew I trusted the photographer and I trusted the team’s direction.
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Fox News: There are going to be critics out there who will say these photos aren’t artistic. What’s your response?
O’Neil: There will always be people who will have different opinions. I just turn the other cheek. I don’t fuel the fire. I don’t say anything… I think that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. My mom said that since I was a kid. So, I guess I didn’t forget that *laughs*
Fox News: How has fitness helped you boost your confidence?
O’Neil: It’s taught me a great deal. My mom has been going through some hard times lately, and I’m like, “Mom, just get in the gym. Get active. I promise you’re going to feel better. When you are active, your body releases endorphins and you’re happier. You feel better about yourself. You see yourself in the mirror and know you worked hard for that. And when you work hard for something you’re automatically going to feel better about yourself and more confident. Working out is really my zen time.
Fox News: What advice would you give to other women who don’t feel as comfortable in their own skin?
O’Neil: I’m not always comfortable in my skin. Like, there are days when I wake up and that’s just the reality of situations. I have friends that model — none of us are always comfortable in our skin.
I think to be comfortable in your own skin, you have to start inwards and then look outwards. There are days when you are going to question yourself, where you’re going to look at the person next to you and compare yourself and you have to stop doing that. I think that’s me and I have to stop doing that myself. We are all made in our own way and, as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. And for me, I work out. As I said before, when you have worked hard for something you know, you feel better about it.
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Fox News: How important has it been for you to develop meaningful relationships in person, versus online dating?
O’Neil: Meaningful relationships are what makes me happy… As far as online dating goes, I think that’s just physical. I know for some people it works, but I don’t [personally] use it… I’ve been single since last year. I haven’t even been on a date.
I just feel like for me, if you’re important enough to be in my life, I’ll meet you in an organic situation, and it’ll happen that way. You don’t need to force these things. I think that tends to happen in online dating. I’m not knocking it but personally… I believe in fate. If somebody’s meant to be in my life, I’ll meet them. And if I haven’t met them yet, I’m not ready for them.