Eva Marcille & Lance Gross

After more than a year of dating, America’s Next Top Model winner Eva Marcille and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne star Lance Gross are engaged. They discussed the details in a recent interview with Essence Magazine, in which they revealed that Lance popped the question, on bended knee of course, in front of family and friends on Christmas Eve.

On Wednesday, December 24, while vacationing with their families at the couple’s favorite winter getaway spot—the Big Bear ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Los Angeles—Marcille and Gross decided to open gifts after dinner in their rented cabin. When Marcille opened her gift—a pillow with a note attached that read: “Hope you like it. Give this pillow to the man you love and he will explain.” After taking the pillow and using it as a cushion, Gross got on bended knee and popped the big question with a 3.36-carat 1895 Pave Cartier ring at 11:30 P.M. PST.

“I was in a complete state of shock!” the 24-year-old Los Angeles native tells ESSENCE.com. “I cried. It was totally unexpected. I’m still in shock. I could not even sleep because I was afraid that I might wake up from the most beautiful dream ever.”

Eva Marcille & Lance Gross

“Eva’s mouth went from closed to on the floor!” jokes Gross, 27, a Howard University alum. “She asked, ‘Baby, is this real? Baby, are you playing with me?’ Then she said, ‘Forever and always: Yes, Yes, Yes!’ And jumped up and hugged me, crying, and then she did her happy dance!”

The blissful couple (an item for a year and a half) first locked eyes at an audition for the film “The Express” two years ago. They were formally introduced on the set of Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” during a table read. Though Marcille and Gross have yet to set a date, they’re strongly considering a beautiful summer wedding in 2010.

Gross, a NAACP Image Award-winning actor has appeared in Perry’s film “Meet the Browns.” Marcille, winner of cycle three’s “America’s Next Top Model,” recently joined the cast of the popular soap opera “The Young and the Restless.”

Congrats to the happy couple! Check out the rest of their exclusive photo shoot with Essence Magazine below.

Eva Marcille & Lance Gross Eva Marcille & Lance Gross Eva Marcille & Lance Gross Eva Marcille & Lance Gross