America’s Next Top Model has been in our lives for 23 legendary seasons (or “cycles” as Tyra refers to them) and we are still not ready to give it up. The long-running, competitive show stole our hearts from the start of cycle 1 back in 2003 when Tyra Banks was still our adored host. Since then, lots of drama has gone down each season of the show and the secrets have kept stacking up throughout the years. Get ready, because all the secrets will finally be revealed here!
Who Picks the Winner
Even though Tyra Banks is the face and the main host of America’s Next Top Model, she does not have the final say in who wins the competition. Each week, the selected panel of judges assesses each contestant on their overall appearance, performance, and best shot from the photo shoot that week. The judges vote on who to eliminate each week, but the votes are not always a unanimous decision. Majority rules in the world of America’s Next Top Model!
Dickinson vs. Banks
Life with Janice Dickinson on the set of ANTM was never boring. The over the top super model never veered away from the drama while she served as one of the panel judges for the show, so it is no surprise that her Tyra Banks did not get along very well. Even though they tried to show the utmost respect for each other while on set, Dickinson’s claws came out later on. Dickinson told Us Weekly, “Yes, I have a distaste for her (Tyra Banks).”
Real Reality TV
There’s nothing like watching something on TV that feels real and relatable, but nowadays most reality television is manipulated and way overdone by producers. Often, people expect the majority of reality television shows to be contrived and scripted by producers. However, this was not the case with America’s Next Top Model. Surprisingly, the show was not scripted at all, so everything you saw actually happened naturally. All of the tears and drama between the models and the judges were completely real!
Weekly Tyra Spottings
Even though the show makes it seem like Tyra chills with the models 24/7, the models only see Banks once a week. Even though the contestants saw Tyra sporadically, they still loved every second with her! Sarah Hartshorne, the plus size contestant on America’s Next Top Model revealed, “I only saw her once a week, and there were a lot of us and only one of her, but she was always very nice and insanely knowledgeable about basically everything. Tyra Banks should be the mayor.”
All ANTM fans have gotten to know and adore longtime judges Jay Manuel, J. Alexander and Nigel Barker over many years. Shockingly, they were all fired from America’s Next Top Model after the show lost 1 million viewers between seasons 17 and 18. Barker told E! Online that he was not devastated and said, “We had an incredible run and there aren’t any hard feelings.” Interestingly, J. Alexander was rehired for cycle 21 as a judge replacing former judge Rob Evans.
Not all top models know how to behave while on the show. In 2008, the models of ANTM completely trashed their gorgeous apartment in New York City. It was reported on Page Six that the top models caused over $500,000 in damages to the $6 million dollar NYC Tribeca loft they were staying in. The landlord, Michael Marvisi, claimed that “the ladies left it in really bad shape after having food fights and messing up the floors.” The girls were accused of ruining the wood floors and punching “hundreds of holes in the ceiling to hang lighting equipment.”
Thanks to new Cycle 23 judge Ashley Graham, we know a lot more behind the scenes secrets about the show. In an interview with Us Weekly, the sports illustrated supermodel revealed that there is an extravagant makeup room on the set. The special room was given by Rimmel makeup and has quite a lot of amenities. The 28-year-old model shared that the lavish area is “decked out with makeup, mirrors, and a selfie machine!” The selfie machine has the best lighting so everyone can get a perfect selfie anytime.
Lawsuit Against Tyra
Angelea Preston was eliminated from the All-Stars season because she used to be an escort. Afterward information about her past was revealed, she sued the show and Tyra Banks. According to People magazine, the lawsuit filed claimed that “Preston originally won the reality show‘s cycle 17 and was entitled to a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl and a spread in Vogue Italia, but once it was discovered she had worked as an escort, Preston was disqualified.” Preston says that her previous job should not have disqualified her.
Cutoff From the World
Being a contestant on America’s Next Top means almost completely cutting yourself off from the world while you are on the show. Contestants only get five minutes or so a week to make calls from the house line. Model Don from season cycle 20 shared, “We had maybe five-minute phone call time a week, so it was really hard to not be able to talk to nobody, to know what was going on in the regular world. There was no news. No TV. No internet. No iPhones. Just the pleasure of each other’s company.”
Remove Yu Tsai
Yu Tsai got himself into hot water after he kept referring to contestant Chantelle Brown-Young as being a “panda.” The model has a disease called vitiligo that affects her skin’s pigmentation. She confronted Tsai while the cameras were rolling on the show and asked him to stop referring to her that way. Tsai defended himself and said he was using the nickname in a “positive” way to “soften” her image. Many fans were angered after Tsai tried to defend himself instead of apologizing.
Winner of cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model, CariDee English, said post-ANTM life can be really hard. Even after becoming America’s Next Top Model, she didn’t actually feel like she was a recognized supermodel. CariDee still had to break into the fashion industry and make a name for herself. The model reflected, “we became instant celebs, but had the portfolio of a rookie model. Even though we just were named ‘top,’ our place in line at Fashion World was at the bottom.”
Even though Tyra and her team have the model’s best interests at hand, it is still terrifying to trust them and completely let them take over their look! Getting your head completely shaven sounds terrifying. Remember Cassandra from cycle 2 who was a former beauty pageant queen? As Tyra’s team cut off all of her hair and dyed it, Cassandra sobbed the entire time. There are always a lot of tears during the makeover episodes, but it surely does make for great television.
The America’s Next Top Model community was hit with tragedy in 2015. Mirjana Puhar, a contestant in cycle 21 of ANTM, was killed in February of 2015 in a triple homicide. Puhar was only 19-years-old at the time of her death. Daily Mail reported that she was shot dead after she opened the door to two robbers. The killers then shot her boyfriend Jonathan Alvarado and their roommate Jusmar Gonzaga-Garcia. Sadly, the triple homicide was said to be drug related.
ANTM Likes Religion
America’s Next Top Model seems to love when a contestant is more religious. There was first Shannon from cycle 1 who was always portrayed in the most positive way. There was also Ava in cycle 22 whose religious views were made to be very positive. These girls are “good girls” but they are also edited in a way to fill a role. When an atheist is portrayed on the show, they are not met with the same flattering editing. Remember atheist, Stefano Churchill? Some believe that she was made to look much more mean spirited.
The Curse of ANTM
Most models, after ANTM, do not reach stardom. In fact, some past contestants have actually gone in the opposite direction and have changed their lives for the worse. There was first Jael Strauss from cycle 8. She developed a serious drug problem after her time in the limelight. She was last seen on Dr.Phil to get help with her drug addiction. Only six years after ANTM, Dr. Phil called her a “full blown meth addict.” Strauss was also homeless and had turned to stripping to make money.
From ANTM to Jail
Another America’s Next Top Model contestant had some serious struggles after her time on the show. Renee Alway from cycle 8 git into some trouble with the law. In 2013, she was arrested in Palm Springs after a six-hour armed standoff with the police and a SWAT team. She is currently serving a 12-year sentence for armed robbery. ET reported that later on, “she pled guilty to four counts of felony burglary, one count of vehicle theft, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and a misdemeanor count of identity theft.” She also had to pay $58,679.58 in damages to her victims.
Choosing to Leave
Sometimes contestants chose to leave without being eliminated leaving most fans shocked and confused. Fan-favorite, Alisha White of the ‘British Invasion’ cycle, eliminated herself from ANTM. She told DigitalSpy, “I just wasn’t feeling like myself and I hate not feeling Alisha, because it shows. It really, really does show. And in my pictures, I couldn’t relate to them. Every picture that came up on that screen I just thought, ‘That’s not me, that’s not what I can do, that’s not who I am as a person’. ”
Catwalk Off a Building
America’s Next Top Model is never short on crazy challenges. Cycle 20 had to take the cake for the most extreme runway walk. The contestants of cycle 20 had to walk down a BUILDING. Some people were terrified of heights and they still had to compete and try to make the clothes look good. One of the models, Don, said it was painful for a variety of reason. He shared, “the harness they had us wear was tearing my balls up, straight up. Like when I got done, I could barely walk.” Ouch!
Sometimes being a short model can prove to be a disadvantage. That was the case with Chris S., from cycle 20. He got eliminated after posing with two of the tallest male models. He said, “In most photo shoots, you have an apple box or they cheat it in some way, but in the photo I got eliminated with, I had Mike and Jeremy, who are both like, 6’6, 6’7 dudes. I look five feet tall. It’s kind of hard to bring your energy that big.”
The height of a model matters a lot and can make it or break it when it comes to booking a job. Sometimes there are advantages to being a shorter model too. Chris S. from cycle 20 also shared that he has gotten jobs for being smaller. Chris said,“when you walk into the room and everyone’s Mike-sized, those are the auditions I end up booking. It’s really strange. For a petite male model, you can fit into higher fashion clothing. You can do more editorial. Obviously, you’re not gonna do a lot of runway.”
Mr. and Miss Jay
Two of the most popular judges, who also definitely had the most personality, were frequently mixed up on the show. J. Alexander and Jay Manuel had the most easily mixed up names making it difficult for contestants to keep them straight. J. Alexander, America’s Next Top Model runway coach, often went by the nickname “Miss J” while Jay Manual, a judge on the show and a makeup artist, often went by Mr. Jay. The cycle 1 contestant Robin Manning often mixed up the two Jays.
Fans often wonder if the model contestants have eating disorders. It is almost impossible to ignore how thin some of the girls are. America’s Next Top Model plus size model, Sarah Harthorne, gave us some insight into the common concern. The cycle 9 contestant told Bustle that the girls on the show do not have eating disorders. She clarified, “No. In fact, they ate all my damn food. Don’t eat the plus-size girl’s food, dude.” Many of the girls must be naturally skinny.
Does CoverGirl Pick the Winner?
Former ANTM judge, Janice Dickinson caused a lot of controversy after she made allegations that the panel of judges do not really choose the winner. While in an interview with FilmOn.com, Janice alleged,”CoverGirl are the ones who choose the model — not any of the judges. People don’t know that! When I found that out, I split. It’s rigged!” After Dickinson made her claims, ANTM’s network, The CW, told Us Weekly that the claim “is completely untrue.”
What Happened to Tiffany?
What ever happened to Tiffany Richardson, the girl who Tyra famously yelled at? Any ANTM fan can go back to that fateful day when Richardson was defeated and re-hear the echo of Tyra’s voice yelling,”We were rooting for you!” Later on, Richardson spoke out about the uncomfortable exchange between her and Tyra and said she often felt “humiliated,” according to Vulture. Now Richardson mostly stays out of the limelight. She has a stable job and two kids, and models periodically.
Ms. Jay and Tyra
Tyra Banks met J. Alexander, aka Miss J, backstage at a runway show way before they were on America’s Next Top Model. After the initial meeting, Alexander and Banks became quick buddies. Interestingly, Miss J helped Tyra Banks perfect her catwalk on the runway back in the day. Banks officially coined Miss J’s title as “Queen of the Catwalk.” From the beginning of their friendship, Tyra knew Alexander was the best in the business and she had to have him on her team of ANTM judges.
What Happened to Adrianne Curry
Everyone remembers the first winner of America’s Next Top Model, Adrianne Curry. She started out as a young twenty-one-year-old from a small town called Joliet in Illinois. After ANTM, she went on to become a reality tv personality. She was on the show My Fair Brady with her then boyfriend, Christopher Knight, who was twenty-five years older than her! They got married in 2006 and then sadly divorced in 2013. Since then, she has had a handful of cameos in films but mostly tries to stay out of the spotlight.
How Tyra picked Janice
Many wonder how Tyra Banks picked Janie Dickinson to be on America’s Next Top Model, especially now that the models do not get along very well. Interestingly, after Tyra Banks read Janice Dickinson’s book, No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel, Banks decided to call Dickinson personally to invite her to be a judge on the show. Dickinson told People magazine that she was hired for the show to “be like a female Simon Cowell – to be feeding in a negative fashion things about the girls.”
Is It Too Late To Say Sorry?
Dickinson felt bad about some of the bad beef between her and Tyra so she decided to formally apologize. In a 2014 interview with Us Weekly, the outspoken former supermodel and reality TV star apologized. She said, “the one regret I’ve had is badmouthing Miss Tyra Banks when I was not speaking with a sober mindset… It was just because I was hurt from being fired from the show.”
Even though America’s Next Top Model is a huge opportunity, many models still refuse to participate in competitions if they do not feel comfortable. That was certainly the case for conservative Christian and southern belle Robin Manning who refused to pose naked for a photoshoot. Manning told Jay Manuel, “My grandmother used to always tell me, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” But she was shocked when Banks reminded her that in a dressing room when she thought “no one was looking,” a “nude” Manning “shook” her “chest at Jay.”
Many fans feel that cycle 9’s winner Saleisha Stowers did not deserve to win. Fans believed she wasn’t eligible to join the competition in the first place because ANTM is not supposed to have any prior modeling experience. However, Saleisha Stowers had already been in Wendy’s TV commercial prior to filming ANTM. The CW network stood behind Stowers and put out a statement that her participation in ANTM, “was determined that her appearance did not amount to ‘modeling’ experience…”
The Show Makes You Reflect
Another one of ANTM’s alum, Renee Bhagwandeen opened up about how the show can make a person much more introspective. The model shared, “Being on the show gave me two and a half months to talk and think about my growth. The application alone had been 10 pages to fill out, all about me. Then there were the confessionals, which were all about how I felt about my work. I spoke to the judges about my performance and my hopes. I learned so much about myself and started to believe in my own strength and potential.”
No Help After ANTM
Some ANTM alum feel that Tyra does not help them out enough after they are on the show. Former contestant Lisa D’Amato said, “I do think Tyra [Banks] kinda likes to keep everybody down a little bit so everyone knows she’s like the Queen Bee. There’s certain things they could do the help, little things, even if it is an e-mail, forwarding pictures … and that does not happen at all. It does seem, when you leave the show, that it is very cold, because they’re just on to the next cycle.”
Everything Take Longer
Even though the viewers only see a few short minutes of the contestants being judged at the end, the scene actually takes a lot more time. The contestants could be standing for hours and hours as the judges deliberate on who to send home. The photo shoots also take a lot of time to complete. Don from cycle 20 shared, “Oh my God, we were there for like 13 hours at least every day. We’d get up at five in the morning, get home at midnight.They make it seem like it was so quick, but really it was just all of us hanging around all day.”
Being a contestant on America’s Next Top Model can bring out a ton of stress and anxiety in a person. Having cameras on you 24/7 isn’t an easy task, especially when you’re surrounded by other people all the time. Keep in mind, you also have the stress of competing in challenges and looking flawless at all times because cameras are always on you. Even the calmest person in the competition can become an anxious and stressed out train wreck.
Every reality show loves to create villains and heroes. These characters make for great storylines and entertainment. Editors on the show may help over exaggerate certain characteristics to allow one model to look more desperate or another to appear more arrogant than they actually are. Remember Jade from cycle 6? She became most well known for her arrogant personality even though she did not see herself that way. Fortunately, none of that stopped her from becoming a hugely successful model.
Confessionals are a huge part of America’s Next Top Model and actually take up a lot of time. Confessionals are mandatory on the show. All of the contestants are required to take out 20-30 minutes every single night to spill their guts on camera and share how they are feeling. Some contestants have said that the confessionals feel like therapy. After filming for ANTM is over, the editors are left with tons of video of confessionals to sort through and cut.
Many think that the life of the contestants on America’s Next Top Model is glamorous and luxurious. Even though the contestants get to stay in gorgeous decked out apartments and they get to travel internationally, they still have to cook their own food. There is no catered food on the show! The models are responsible for cooking their own food and they have to pay for it! Nicole Lucas explained, “they just give you a list and you have to fill out what you want and people get food for you and you give them your money, of course.”
Tyra Banks is all about self-love and acceptance, so it came as a surprise to most fans after she gushed over a contestant’s tiny waist. Fans heavily criticized her for idolizing future winner, Ann Ward’s little waist. Banks released a statement saying, “As a leader in celebrating and promoting healthy body image, I must admit that I regrettably didn’t see this clip before it was released to the public. But on behalf of the Top Model team…we truly apologize for any confusion, anger or disappointment it may have caused.”
Nigel Barker Gets Personal
Nigel Barker has the most professional attitude when it comes to his role on America’s Next Top Model, but what is his life really like when he is not behind the camera? Many ANTM fans do not know much about Barker, but outside of ANTM he has an active personal life. Barker married Cristen Barker, formerly known as Cristen Chin, back in 1999. Cristin is a model and a CoverGirl representative. The happy couple met in Milan through Cristin’s agent and they now have two children together, Jack and Jasmine, and an adorable dog named Memphis.
Australia’s Next Top Model is also a very popular version od the show. There is one main difference, though. In Australia’s Next Top Model the winner is chosen in front of a live studio audience and live on air. Contrastingly, on America’s Next Top Model the final two models first compete in a runway fashion show. Afterward, the winner is chosen in the judging room. On Australia’s Next Top Model, they also use the final 3 contestants for the runway instead of only the final 2.