America's Next Top Model

From Academic Kids

America’s Next Top Model is a reality television show which pits contestants against each other in a variety of competitions to determine who will win a modeling contract with makeup manufacturer Covergirl. Supermodel Tyra Banks hosts and produces the show.

The debut season of the show premiered on the UPN network in 2003. On it, 10 female contestants were placed in a New York City apartment. Spanning a wide variety of women of various races, heights and body sizes, they had been whittled down from a pool of thousands to compete against one another in various contests designed to simulate the extreme demands placed on professional models. Each week one contestant was eliminated by a panel of judges: Banks herself, clothing designer Kimora Lee Simmons, Beau Quillian, and Janice Dickinson, who bills herself as the world's first supermodel. By the next season, only Tyra and Janice remained judges, but the others are now ex-model/fashion photographer Nigel Barker and fashion editor/stylist Nolé Marin. After season four, Janice, amid rumors of personality conflicts with some other judges, and Marin were replaced by Twiggy and "Miss" Jay Alexander (Alexander had been involved with the runway and various photo shoots since the first season).

The show takes on a reality show style of format in that we not only see these competitions but the effects they have on the participants, as well as the drama of their day to day lives while participating. This included several contestants who were devout Christians and disapproved of homosexuality, to the dismay of lesbian contestant Ebony Haith. The winner of the first season was Adrianne Curry, a Illinois woman with a thick accent who had been pursuing modeling since her early teens.

The second season of the show, in 2004, featured 12 contestants this time. Though the format was the same, the production took several different angles on how the show was presented. The judges were often much more harsh in their criticism of the contestants. In particular, one contestant, Catie Anderson, was repeatedly told that she looked or acted like a prostitute. The contests in this season were also more sexual: the first one required contestants to pose nude in body paint, something that plus-size contestant Anna Bradfield opted out of, causing her to be eliminated first. There was also a lesbi-erotic photo shoot towards the end of the show where the remaining four contestants posed nude in seductive positions in pairs of two.

The second season also spawned a clear-cut "hated" character in the form of Camille McDonald. While it is not uncommon for a "bad" character to emerge on a reality show, Camille's race came into play when it was pointed out by critics and the NAACP that many reality shows airing at this time seemed to peg the black female character as the one to dislike. Camille did make it into the final five, however. The second season also featured Mercedes Scelba-Shorte, a young woman whose struggle with Lupus was detailed on the show. She fought against it to become one of the two finalists.

Another contestant of note was Shandi Sullivan, a lithe, blonde cashier from the American heartland. Shandi began the show as a very mousy and poorly dressed girl in glasses, but by the end she had transformed into an extremely skilled model. She made it into the top three, but after the end of her season, has returned to working in retail. In point of fact, Sullivan's sister was found to be auctioning off many of the designer clothes worn by Shandi on the show (and consequently given to her) in an attempt to help her pay her way to New York City and pursue modelling full time. (Perhaps this is a great testament to the longevity of the fame accorded to reality television stars.) The show has also produced a male model copy-cat show on the Bravo network, called Manhunt. It's hosted by Carmen Electra.

The winner of the cycle was Yoanna House, a fashionista who had lost 40 pounds in order to realise her dreams of being a model.

The third season of the show debuted in fall 2004 and was criticized by some for focusing far more on "drama" than on modeling ability. Amanda Swafford, who was legally blind, broke ground by making it to the final three. However, the final two were Yaya Da Costa Johnson and Eva Pigford, who went head-to-head in a very elegant Japanese fashion show. Both women were African-American, while no black contestant in either previous season had made it to the final two. Eva was declared the winner.

For the next installment, which ran in spring 2005, the location was moved from New York City to Los Angeles, but with the girls living on a set which resembled NYC. One of the most memorable contestants in season four was Tiffany Richardson, who initially had made it into the semifinals in cycle three but had gotten into a fight with a woman who poured beer on her weave in a bar. She was accepted as a finalist for cycle four with a calmer and more mature attitude, though her defeatist outlook caused her to be eliminated from the game. In what was generally considered a lackluster season, one of the most talked-about moments occured after a double elimination ceremony which removed Tiffany and another contestant, Rebecca Epley. Tiffany laughed and joked on her way out, prompting Tyra to scream "BE QUIET!!!!" and have a meltdown over how they had given Tiffany a chance and she had let them down.

The season also included Michelle Deighton, a bisexual wrestler who was considered by some to be awkward and masculine in person, but who nevertheless turned out to be one of the most versatile and photogenic contestants. During the show she contracted impetigo, which at one point was mistaken to be a flesh-eating virus by several of the other girls. She managed to make it into the sixth place before being eliminated.

In the season finale of Cycle 4, which was located in South Africa, Keenyah, Kahlen, and Naima competed to win the top spot. Keenyah was the first to go because the judges felt Kahlen was a stronger model. Kahlen and Naima faced off in the final runway walk in which the runway was partially under water. The judges had a hard time choosing between the two potentials. They explained that Kahlen's pictures had been stronger during the competition, but Naima had a better and stronger finish in the final stretch. In the end of what was supposedly the longest deliberation ever, the judges chose Naima as America's Next Top Model.

Especially the third and fourth seasons of the shows have been criticised for having contestants chosen more for their potential to be reality TV personalities than actual modelling abilities. The show has constantly featured contestants that would generally be too old to start out in the modeling business or not tall or thin enough to do runway work. The later seasons have also been criticised for deviating further from high fashion into a more commercial territory. Nevertheless, the show remains one of the highest rated shows on UPN and a fifth and a sixth season have been commissioned.


Missing image
Adrianne Curry, America's Next Top Model Cycle 1 Winner

Cycle 1 contestants (in order of elimination)

  • Tessa Carlson
  • Katie Cleary
  • Nicole Panattoni
  • Ebony Haith
  • Giselle Samson
  • Kesse Wallace
  • Robin Manning
  • Elyse Sewell
  • Shannon Stewart
  • Adrianne Curry

Cycle 2 contestants (in order of elimination)

Missing image
Yoanna House, America's Next Top Model Cycle 2 Winner
  • Anna Bradfield
  • Bethany Harrison
  • Heather Blumberg
  • Jenascia Chakos
  • Xiomara Frans
  • Catie Anderson
  • Sara Racey-Tabrizi
  • Camille McDonald
  • April Wilkner
  • Shandi Sullivan
  • Mercedes Scelba-Shorte (Mercedes Yvette)
  • Yoanna House

Cycle 3 contestants (in order of elimination)

  • Magdalena Rivas
  • Leah Darrow
  • Julie Titus
  • Laura "Kristi" Gromment
  • Jennipher Frost
  • Kelle Jacob
  • Cassie Grisham
  • Toccara Jones
  • Nicole Borud
  • Norelle Van Herk
  • Ann Markley
  • Amanda Swafford
  • Camara "Yaya" Da Costa Johnson
  • Eva Pigford

Cycle 4 contestants (in order of elimination)

  • Brita Petersons
  • Sarah Dankleman
  • Brandy Rusher
  • Noelle Staggers
  • Lluvy Gomez
  • Tiffany Richardson/Rebecca Epley (double elimination)
  • Tatiana Dante
  • Michelle Deighton
  • Christina Murphy
  • Brittany Brower
  • Keenyah Hill
  • Kahlen Rondot
  • Naima Mora

International versions

An Australian version of the show called Australia's Next Top Model was broadcast in January 2005. A second series will be aired early next year. The format was also used for British show Make Me A Supermodel, the first series of which was broadcast in 2005.

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