The rise and fall of America’s Next Top Model, explained in 8 moments

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Okay, to be more accurate: We lost a good example of how reality shows used to work, due to the official end of America’s Next Top Model. 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.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. While it never enjoyed the monster ratings of a Survivor or an American Idol, the Tyra Banks–helmed reality series was a standard competition show combined with elements of The Real World.

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). In fact, after 22 “cycles” (the show insists on using this term instead of “seasons”), it’s almost a joke to point out just how few of the show’s winners have gone on to achieve actual modeling fame. 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 . 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.

The recent rise of social media arguably made the increased accessibility of the industry inevitable; top models like Karlie Kloss, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid now document every photo shoot, runway strut, and daily happening in their lives as fashion “It” girls. 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. 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.

Her preferred relationship with the contestants was maternal, in the sense that she tried to mentor and nurture them while simultaneously doling out harsh discipline when they disappointed her. She injected sporadic doses of Oprah Winfrey’s tearjerking interview style into her talks, the better to convince a contestant that Banks was personally, deeply invested — even if it wasn’t true. 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. It’s that Banks’s fury came from Tiffany refusing to play her assigned part in the story. (Also, that Banks really doesn’t know when to quit.) See, Top Model’s editing played into reality show tropes as aggressively and overtly as possible. The most successful past contestants are predominantly known for their work in other industries, like Analeigh Tipton, who took third place in cycle 11, and had a break-out acting role in 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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 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. As obvious as the edits became later on, they were even starker in the early going, when Top Model hadn’t yet hammered down its contestant tropes and Banks hadn’t yet determined how harsh she wanted the judging to be.

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. 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.

When the producers successfully created drama with a nude photo shoot, you could see them working out the kinks of exactly how hard they could come down on the contestants, how much they could push them, and how to elicit an entertaining reaction: Looking back at it now, it’s easy to imagine a behind-the-scenes environment not unlike the one we saw on Lifetime’s scripted summer drama UnReal, on which reality TV producers constantly manipulated their subjects’ emotions to reach their desired outcome. 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. 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. Patterns start coming into focus (the girl who needs more personality, the makeover episode, the dreaded commercial challenge), and you begin picking up on Banks’s favorite themes.

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. But even more so than that, the show was founded upon this notion that if a young woman works hard and eats and breathes fashion, she can rise up from the ranks and become a real life model.

She made a contestant named Xiomara take on Grace Jones, and painted her several shades darker: “I feel like ethnic women never want to be darker,” Banks says during the judges’ deliberation. In cycle four, she had contestants assume the qualities of an ethnicity different from their own for a photo shoot inspired by the Got Milk? ad campaign. Sometimes when you’re watching a reality show, you get so caught up in the minutiae of its rules and drama that you don’t realize it’s making something out of nothing (a.k.a. 80 percent of reality television).

Each time the contestants traveled overseas with the show, they were made to do something “cultural.” It was always unclear if any real models had ever done the same things. Furonda didn’t exactly learn it so much as make it drastically better: Early in every cycle, each wannabe model underwent a Top Model–sanctioned makeover.

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