Worn Out on the Runway

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, January 19, 2007

Sara Albert, the D.C. policy wonk who found whirlwind fame and an unexpected new career via "America's Next Top Model" last year, has fled the shallow rat race of L.A.'s actress/model scene for the calmer pace and down-home values of . . . uh, well, anyway, she's moved back to Washington.

"My life's in D.C.," she told us. "Modeling wasn't enough for me."

The '05 Georgetown grad, who was discovered by casting agents at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, nearly won the Tyra Banks reality show (one gushing judge called the volleyball player a "6-foot-1 Scarlett Johansson!"). It inspired her to quit her research job at Advisory Board Co. last spring and pack her bags for L.A., where she signed with Elite and dyed her naturally blond tresses a dramatic chocolate brown.

She had fun and found work but was worn down by the long hours, wearying travel and endless auditions. "It's a really difficult industry," she said. "Every other person you talk to is an aspiring actress or model. It's a very saturated market. You feel replaceable. I don't want to feel like in my career that I'm replaceable -- I want to feel like I can be loyal to an organization and it will be loyal to me."

Sound like a job hunter? Albert starts a temp job this week as a legal assistant for a lobbying association, but she's still floating the résumé. Meanwhile, she's thrilled to be back with boyfriend John Hallmark (a Hill staffer and fellow Hoya) -- and back to being a blonde.

"The whole being-in-L.A., being-a-brunette thing -- it's not who I really am."

And the Lord Blessed Him Back

Isaiah Thomas
Thomas: A win for the hometown crowd.(Courtesy Isaiah Thomas)
Isaiah D. Thomas stands somewhat apart from the gospel music mainstream -- a linebacker-size dude in denim with a high-energy hip-hop sound. But last weekend the scene's elite gave the Maryland man his due, naming his chart-topping "I Will Bless the Lord" song of the year at the prestigious Stellar Awards in Nashville.

"I'm shocked -- very, very shocked," Thomas, 34, told us. "It was a really tough category."

Thomas, minister of music at New Samaritan Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, called it "a great win for this area" that could boost D.C.'s presence in gospel -- though, technically, he hasn't brought the trophy home yet. "They engrave it with your name and the name of the song," he told us, "and then mail it to you."

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

  • Barack Obama, his exit from Bistro Bis stalled by a gaggle of women at the door all shaking his hand, pulling out the cameras, etc. Oh, ladies! The '08 candidate seemed to have had a business dinner at the CapHill eatery, where he ordered soup.
  • Kathleen Turner, munching on crab cakes at Clyde's in Georgetown on Tuesday. The '80s big-screen siren, now starring in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the KenCen, also sipped a Manhattan -- an excellent way to maintain that sexy whiskey voice.
  • A black-clad Bo Derek (she's always here!) shopping at Georgetown jewelry store Ann Hand on Wednesday with her mom, who picked up an angel brooch and one of those American flag pins that all the political doyennes wear.
  • THIS JUST IN . . .

  • Dina Matos McGreevey has decided to break her silence about life with her estranged husband, former N.J. governor Jim McGreevey -- who resigned in 2004 over an adulterous gay relationship with an aide -- via a memoir expected out this spring. (Will it be as steamy as his book from last fall? Guessing not.) "Two years have passed and still I am the subject of much speculation. . . . Enough is enough," she said in a statement released by Hyperion Books. No word on how much that will earn her.
  • Usher was found guilty in a Georgia court this week of driving 103 mph on I-75 on July 4. The 28-year-old R&B star (full name: Usher Raymond IV) was fined $425 and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service, then spent 30 minutes in the courtroom signing autographs for fans. (Hey, think that counts?)

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