The Final-Ever Winner of America’s Next Top Model Is…

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘America’s Next Top Model': Where Are They Now?.

Spoiler warning: If you haven’t seen the cycle 22 finale of America’s Next Top Model, the results will be revealed ahead. Look, it’s not like we didn’t think the supermodel had some serious moves, and we’re not exactly surprised that she knows how to back that thang up, but it’s still quite a sight to see.After 22 seasons, 12 years, 14 judges, more than a dozen international installments, six syndication networks, two broadcasting networks and one powerhouse host, Tyra Banks’ reality competition series “America’s Next Top Model” is coming to a close — for now. “I always like to leave before you’re kicked out,” says Banks. “That’s something that my mother told me — leave at the end of the beginning.Models and model wannabes around the country are giving one last Tyra-approved ‘smize,’ one last perfect booty tooch, in honor of America’s Next Top Model’s final strut down the runway Friday night. Wearing a form-fitting pattern dress (that fittingly had a face on her bum), Tyra turns her back to the camera and starts doing a little booty pop to the beat.

Before the Kardashians ruled the airwaves, before Housewives across the U.S. were flipping over tables and competing for the award of who can host the most ridiculously expensive party, supermodel Tyra Banks was Queen Bee of the burgeoning reality TV scene. The dark-haired model remained solidly in the middle of the pack until coming out of his shell in the sixth episode of the season, after a challenge that hoisted the contestants in the air to pose as possessed fashionistas.

When the inaugural episode of her new competition show aired in May 2003, it was one of the first of its kind (Survivor and American Idol were two of the rare hits that preceded it). DiMarco tells PEOPLE: “Being a Deaf person on a television show alone is pretty groundbreaking, so it felt incredible just to be on the show – but to win it was amazing!” With his piercing blue eyes and sculpted abs, DiMarco performed consistently well throughout the photo shoots, which had him posing with live animals, as a doll and in the dark. “My proudest moment would be the picture of me with the husky,” he says. “It was basically the first time I was clothed for a shoot, and I won the best photo. That photo proved that there is more to me than just my body – there’s my ability to blend into clothes, my modeling skills and my ad-worthiness.” “The competition, and especially living with the models in the house, was undoubtedly a lot of fun, but it was also pretty tough,” he says. “The inability to use my language, American Sign Language, and the lack of communication, information access and the general connection to the world was difficult.” “I wanted to take advantage of the platform, not only to prove that I’m the best but also to educate and prove to the world what Deaf people are capable of,” he says. “So I kept a smile on my face and had positive thoughts.” “I remember at the beginning of ANTM, I immediately identified Mamé as my biggest competition,” he says. “It’s funny how my first instinct was right after all.” “I hope that my win inspires the Deaf community to start pursuing their desired careers,” he says. “There are so many talented Deaf people that the world needs and can benefit from.” Along with a handful of handpicked experts and fellow judges, Banks gave the prospective models makeovers (often involving extreme haircuts), taught the girls to walk and pose, and set up competitive photo shoots and runway shows with some of the top industry professionals. “I think that [the show] did [bring] an awareness about the business and it did bring a bit of visibility and a bit of know-how to the amount of work it takes, and that’s pretty valuable,” Jason Valenta, Head of Scouting for Next Model Management, tells The Daily Beast.

The novel’s protagonist, Tookie, is an awkward “Forgetta-Girl” whose life is forever altered when she finds a coveted SMIZE — a talisman that puts her in the running to attend Modelland, the elite boarding school in the skies where girls become models. While his fellow finalists took the top position in the weeks leading up to the finale, the 26-year-old wound up on top when it counted and won the coveted title of the final . It was certainly the longest-running. (“Project Runway,” by comparison, which began the year after, has thus far produced 14 seasons; “Mad Men,” which was itself arguably a fashion moment, seven.) That means that for a generation of viewers, “ANTM” was their conduit to the fashion world, the vehicle that shaped their perception of the industry. Valenta acknowledges that the industry is “quite insular and…in it’s own way exclusive.” The show opened up this world, and helped give interested girls a sneak peak that made modeling seem a bit more accessible. “I can remember vividly the massive increase in blind submissions that would pour into the agency after ANTM became a sensation,” Tiffany Press, an agent at New York Model Management, says via email. If they don’t get in, they’re destined to toil in a factory. (There are only two jobs in this dystopian universe.) According to legend, the road to becoming a supermodel is littered with human sacrifice.

While he’s by no means the first deaf contestant to compete on a reality series—there have been deaf contestants on Survivor, Chopped, The Amazing Race and Project Runway, and Marlee Matlin came in second on The Celebrity Apprentice—he is the first one to take home the win. DiMarco also recurred on the latest season of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth as a potential love interest for Vanessa Marano’s Bay. “It was so funny…All of the burly, super macho grips on set were drunk by his beauty.

And over the years lots of people have, pointing out that the show never actually produced any supermodels (much as “Project Runway” has not produced any top designers) and criticizing its propagation of model clichés — the group apartments new girls often share (and which are never as cushy as the houses on “ANTM”), and the pursed-lips-up-from-under-the-eyebrows-stare immortalized by Ben Stiller in “Zoolander” and adopted by many of the show’s contestants. Starting with the idea that a brief dabble in supermodel-dom could be parlayed into a new and potentially more lucrative career as a reality TV host (if not a talk-show host). The real winner, after all, was not each season’s winner (most of them went precisely nowhere), but the host, Tyra Banks, who succeeded in branding not only herself but an entire lexicon thanks to her constant use of such phrases as “Tyra mail” and “Ty tips” and “Ty-over.” Her attitude and ability to simultaneously castigate and praise her students/contestants gave her a viral reach far beyond her fashion career. Crazy stunts included (but were certainly not limited to) making the contestants strut their stuff in dangerously high heels (one girl had to crawl off the runway); staging a runway show on a constantly moving, tilting runway positioned over a pool of water (a spill was inevitable…yet all the judges seemed shocked when it happened); an Indiana Jones-inspired runway that required models to dodge two swinging, heavy pendulums (a truly horrifying scene in which one girl was swept off the runway); and a shoot in which one model face-planted into Plexiglass, all to capture an artfully beautiful photo.

In the end, the terrified model in question inevitably sucked it up, took a killer photo, and was told she had learned the lesson of what it takes to be a true professional. Banks into a simultaneous, if briefer, five-year run as the host of an eponymous chat show, as well as an even briefer recent talk-show venture, “FABLife,” which she began in September and will leave this month (proving that while model-empowerment has its limits, the hope for another “ANTM” springs eternal).

All the while, the American version was increasingly losing the “reality” portion of reality TV. “I used to have a joke…’ever since ANTM, models believe a supermodel means being able to do your eyeliner on top of an ice capped glacier,’” says Press, who says she was a fan of the show in its early days purely for its entertainment value. “It definitely did not give a realistic idea of the maturation process and development of a model. And it created opportunities to fellow catwalkers like Janice Dickinson, Twiggy and Paulina Porizkova, all of whom spent a few cycles as judges on “ANTM.” Given Tyra as a role model and coach, and the fact that personality (and the story of the ugly duckling turned swan) plays on TV better than, say, the robotic runway strut that characterizes the models of choice for many catwalk shows, it’s probably not a coincidence that the most successful alumnae — like Analeigh Tipton (who came in third during Cycle 11) and Yaya DaCosta (second in Cycle 3) — made their names post-show not in modeling, but in acting.

Let’s go over the best and worst feature of each contestant’s presentation: But it doesn’t matter how much Comic Sans you use or how much weight you lose because the story has practically already written itself: Nyle and Mamé, deservedly, move on to the final runway. So the only real advantage ANTM contestants have had is that [they] came prepared with pretty good portfolios from the show to present.” Participation can end up being a little more of a burden than a boon. We were the first show to have the format that we had with each challenge and elimination, and my partner Ken Mok came up with that format that almost all competition reality shows follow. It showcased a transgender model, Isis King (Cycle 11 and All-Star 17) before Andreja Pejic became a runway favorite; has been determinedly diverse before runway diversity became a part of the conversation; and featured buzz-cut Bianca Golden (Cycle 9) before Ruth Bell took the last ready-to-wear season by storm.

It brought fashion to TV, but it is the only competition reality show that continues to repeat and people continue to watch the repeats even if they have already seen the original. I created Top Model to expand the definition of beauty and to use the modeling industry as that microcosm of beauty worldwide. “I need to show that you don’t have to be like this cookie-cutter thing where it’s like, ‘oh I look so perfect,’ but this beauty that’s interesting. Which simply shows, once again, that in fashion’s case, truth may not be stranger than fiction, but it’s sometimes hard to tell one from the other.

A gap in the teeth, lips that are too big or too small, eyes that are on the side of the head where you look like an antelope and prey in the wild, foreheads that are too big. Still, it is possible that the show’s single most powerful legacy has to do with the power of the model myth: the dream that a girl (or guy) will be walking down the street, or this in case, stepping onto a set, and will be discovered and propelled to fame.

You’d think the experience of constantly being judged for your physical flaws would turn off not only viewers but potential contestants, but for over a decade they came, they were criticized and we watched. I was shocked that they allowed that — but they were very adamant very early on to have that we really have to have that non-debatable beauty represented.

And that is why, if I were a betting woman, I’d bet on this show — like “Friends” and “Modern Family” (send hate mail, I can take it) — having a long afterlife, continuing to inspire drinking games, and becoming a pop culture artifact. They would say, “Okay, we have this, this and this so we’re fine now, and you can go cast your awkward and weird girls.” Over time, awkward, weird and interesting just became beautiful or unique and edgy when the audience understood that beauty is not cookie cutter.

There was one country that said, “This is what people think is beautiful, and we have to stick to that,” and I fought and finally, they said, “Tyra, we will let you make the decision for this girl.” It was “Vietnam’s Top Model” and I said this girl will work internationally, and they chose her and she continues to do very well internationally. Tyra praises Mamé for her walk and even likens the finalist to herself, specifically 2003 Tyra at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, because unlike us peasants, Tyra remembers every step of every show. It will just be a couple of appearances because I really do want to focus on Tyra Beauty… Like 90% of my time is here, making sure that our company is doing well.

The great thing is we’re past projections and we’re breaking all kinds of records when it comes to start-ups and I want to continue that trajectory so I’m here and it’s so important.

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