Ah, network sweeps. What better time to bleed every last bit of life out of a top-rated cash cow—I mean, revisit a successful series—than now? UPN’s and Tyra’s mamas didn’t raise no dummies, so tonight the network and the knockout have re-teamed to give us a glimpse into the post-show lives of the dozen dazzling darlings (and divas) whom we got to know and love over the course of 10 episodes and 11 weeks of intense, nail-biting competition that was the second cycle of America’s Next Top Model. Burning questions are answered and private lives are revealed. Find out who got signed and who felt maligned, who’s moving up and who’s going nowhere.
That is, of course, assuming you don’t already know all this. A lot of these things won’t be much of a surprise to our ANTM forum regulars, who have already heard the scoop on many of the contestants thanks to a wonderful pool of crafty FORT members (who rival the Scooby Gang on getting to the bottom things), and the updates from our valued insiders. Nonetheless, it’s still a thrill to see all the girls again, such as…
The Girl Who Would Not Let Us Forget That She Created This Show, Controls Every Single Thing About It and Is The Alpha and Omega of All Models
Lest we have forgotten in the past month or so since the show ended that Tyra is the real Top Model of the show, she narrates the special from start to finish (I guess some things never change). After patting herself on the back over the diversity of the cast (as if she, singularly, parsed through the thousands of auditioning aspirants), she also talks about how difficult it was for her to make the final choice between Yoanna and Mercedes (again, as if she were the only one in the judges’ room deliberating). Though Mercedes ended the show as runner-up, Tyra recalls the inimitable “tough but sweet” and “spunky” personality that got her onto the show in the first place.
The Girl Who Became Lupus’s Hottest Poster Child Ever
The first “new” footage we see is, in fact, old footage: clips of Mercedes from the show, her audition tape, childhood photos, family snapshots…Over this, Mercedes, literally skipping in sun-dappled, quintessentially Californian lawn in Valencia, tells us that she’s always had big dreams, such as becoming an astronaut or the country’s first bi-racial female president—if she weren’t so darned busy, maybe she should have considered running in this November election!
So what happened to the dimpled, cupcake of cute that the judges had once deemed “too commercial”? True to her name, she’s a finely built machine speeding smoothly along the highway of success. Skip ahead to Mercedes working it on the runway at LA’s fashion week, and designer John Sakalis giving her props for her “charisma” and her “great walk.” Her mom, Mary Scelba, however, lets us know that underneath all the runway glamour, she’s still the bubbly, goofy Mercedes we all know and love, playing with her brother, and close to her family. Speaking of family, Mercedes finally solves the mystery of her ambiguously ethnic background, telling us her mom is Italian-American, her biological dad is African-American, and her stepfather is Chinese. Looks like Tyra could learn a thing or two about diversity from Mercedes’s family! They also delve into her shadowy past as the “rudest girl ever,” a troublemaker, always in fights—hard to believe, but her mother does corroborate the fact that they lived in a “tough area” of Jersey. Mercedes credits her transformation into America’s Top Sweetheart on her family’s move to the sunny Californian suburb of Valencia.
Flashback to the show: Mercedes’s revelation that she suffers from the chronic disease, Lupus. Although she had initially tried to keep it a secret, she says that admitting it made a huge difference for the better, in that people proved incredibly supportive. Another flashback: to the moment when Yoanna was announced the winner. Mercedes admits it was “disappointment,” likening it to the last “ten seconds left in a basketball game” in which “that little inch” makes all the difference.
Flash-forward to Mercedes looking like a typical LA girl: a gorgeous girl driving around, late for an appointment, cell phone ear bud dangling from the side of her head. “The competition has not yet ended,” Mercedes assures the audience. We see a brief clip of both Yoanna and Mercedes on the runway of the John Sakalis show either auditioning or rehearsing. Mercedes says that she’s heard Yoanna has some shows this week, but announces that she had “the best show…I opened up with Lloyd Klein, thankyouverymuch.” We then see good ol’ Janice D (who’s always been a big fan of Mercedes’s) with her arm around our girl, both dressed up like 80’s tigresses, backstage at the Lloyd Klein show, announcing excitedly, “This is Mercedes’s first real fashion show.” Somewhere, the Dsquared2 twins are crying softly into linen handkerchiefs.
After the Lloyd Klein/Mercedes Benz fashion show, we follow Mercedes to her audition with Enyce, whom Mercedes is excited will be paying $500, adding “I haven’t had a paycheck in six months.” Also, we see clips of Mercedes walking with feline ferocity and grace at the Rock & Republic show, as her voiceover tells us that her goals include appearing on the cover of Vogue, pursuing acting and helping people with lupus. Her segment concludes with Tyra informing us that Mercedes has signed with Nous Model Management in L.A., a forthcoming ad appearing in Seventeen magazine, and a role in an independent film called “Love Nest.”
The Girl Who Could Melt the Underpants Off of Anyone Within a 10 Mile Radius
Too sexy. I’ve heard worse insults, but this was the estimation that led to Sara’s elimination in episode 7. So has being “too sexy” been a detriment to the proud Persian princess’s career since she’s been back in the real world? What do you think? HELL NO! Being on the show has turned Sara into an instant-celeb, “People recognize me on the street, following me in stores, shouting my name out.”
We’re reminded by Sara that her choice of occupation is considered akin to prostitution in her father’s Muslim culture—her heartfelt admission told tastefully over footage of her turning like a vertical rotisserie to show off her figure in a tight leather outfit to an offscreen male who coos, “That’s sexy. Right on.” Sara’s mother says that Sara’s strained relationship with her father is “unfortunate” adding “they have not come to an agreement on how she should live her life.” Sara describes her own childhood in Seattle as “the same story a lot of other people have, single-mom-raised, not a lot of money.” 10-4, I copy that one!
Despite her father’s disapproval, Sara is determined to make it in “the industry I love.” And how! It’s Sara’s mother who reveals that after the show Sara became less interested in New York’s high fashion scene and “very interested in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions.” Taking a page from the Breasthany playbook, Sara says she has noticed the disparity between her body and the high fashion stick figures, saying “I see models who are size 0 and I’m sitting there with boobs and I have a shape to me...” We revisit the emotional footage of her elimination, which Sara confesses “really did hurt that much and more than what you saw on the show.”
Doesn’t look like it took her all that long to recover. From a broken heart to a heartbreaker, we see Sara on all fours on the floor in lingerie and sultry, sixties sex kitten hair (think Barbarella in baby pink), posing for her upcoming Maxim spread. “The outfits are barely outfits,” Sara laughs, drawing a thin line in the air. I have two words to describe it: “Scha” and “wing”! She says that she has shifted her career focus to lingerie and swimsuit modeling, pleading, “I want to be in Sports Illustrated! Put me in there!” Finally, we watch her in the Rock & Republic show, doing her sultry best in her first runway work since the show—not too sure about the two-toned frizz, though, which would leave any other woman crying in her salon chair, but if anyone has a chance of pulling this off, it would have to be America’s Top Sexpot. Seems like Sara can do anything she sets her mind to because, Tyra tells us, she has a meeting with the head of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. I’d wish Sara luck, but who needs luck when you’re as babelicious as her?
The Girl Who Might Want to Pace Herself or Else She’ll Run Out of Her Fifteen Minutes Fast
Tyra imparts more of her ancient wisdom with us; this time, in regards to what exactly it is that differentiates a “Top Model” from all the rest. The Yoda of modeling says it takes “personality, looks…she has to know how to “pose her butt off,” how to dance, how to speak, how to represent products, how to relate to the public, where they like her, they want to be her friend.” Segue to the girl whom, correct me if I’m wrong, the American Public felt more like slapping across her hysterical, crying face than chatting with over chamomile tea.
America’s Top Crybaby, Catie appears on local radio show in her hometown, where the DJ remarls that she must be recognized everywhere she goes now. Flashback to her audition tape where she says her desire is to become a “household name”—might I suggest an ad campaign for Kleenex? They edit a segment at her local airport so that it looks like several people are asking for her autograph when it is, in fact, only two. Catie goes to visit a friend who is an elementary school teacher in her classroom, who is clearly thrilled to see Catie. Giddily, she introduces Catie to the kids in her class, who clearly have no idea who she is. The assistant principal boasts about the local girl done good, saying, “Lo and behold…she made it big time.” Seems like it doesn’t take much to impress Willmarians. Catie points to a big, knock-off Warhol’s famous Marilyin Monroe portrait, saying, “This really isn’t Marilyn, it’s actually me.”
The best flashbacks are those that producers use to hang dramality characters later on in the show. Case in point: Catie declares emphatically on her audition tape, “If they said, ‘Catie, to make it, you have to shave your head,’ my hair is gone.” Cut to Catie sneering at and crying over her new gamine cut at the salon where they had their makeovers. Catie admits to having had “emotional attachment” to her hair, and to her credit she is able to laugh at herself now. Flashback again, this time to the high-wire photo shoot, where she bawled like a brat strung up in a toddler swing.
We meet her parents, who talk about how she’s “matured” so much since being on her own (if what we saw was the new, mature Catie, I shudder to think what she was like before…I mean, could she go to the potty on her own? Tie her own shoes?). They say that while watching the first few episodes was fun, following episodes proved increasingly difficult to handle (cut to Barney’s art director Simon Noonan comments on Catie’s “hooker style” and some judges’ criticism). “I was going downhill fast,” Catie admits, before we see her, crying once again, this time at her elimination.
They then show Catie, looking truly elegant in 20’s marcel waves and a perfect porcelain cupie doll face, at the Louis Verdad fashion show (again, during LA’s fashion week). She says that she still wants to model, and also act or try TV hosting. “I’m really trying to capitalize on moment that I have, because I got this great exposure…The show was completely just a warm-up” Catie says, sounding uncharacteristically sober, shrewd and, yes, mature. Her bratty Daddy’s Little Girl Act was annoying to no end, but wildly successful in getting everyone’s attention, and therefore a clever tool of self-promotion. In that case, Catie might be a whole lot wiser than any of us gave her credit for.
The Girl Who Kept Her “Coochie” Christ-Like
Remember Anna? Neither did I. Anyway, to refresh your memory, she was the devoted, devout, plus-size wife and mama who refused to disrobe at the Garden of Eden shoot and was ousted from paradise…FOREVER! She appears to have lost weight for the special, like a bridesmaid for someone else’s wedding, and is wearing too much matte makeup that makes her appear older than she actually is, and outdated. They talk about her decision not to get nekkid—wasn’t the issue labored enough the first time? Anyway, her husband obviously appears pleased at her decision to keep her “coochie” his own private Idaho, their kid is adorable, she doesn’t have any regrets, and she’s looking over a contract for an agency. NEXT!
The Girl Who’s Got a Price Check on Aisle Four—So Hurry Up and Bid on Ebay Already!
You know you’ve really hit the big time when one of two things happens: 1) The Madonna Effect (formerly known as Tina Turner Syndrome)—which causes one in the limelight to suddenly and abruptly break out in a British accent, or 2) Karl Malone-itis—a condition many athletes and famous people have, in which they are uncontrollably prone to referring to themselves in the third person. Shandi appears to be afflicted with the latter. “Shandi’s life will never be the same after Top Model,” Shandi says, adding she’s changing “everything” about herself as a result, and for that she is grateful. Shandi recalls a youth in which she was often mistaken for a boy, with a mother who lamented that with her looks, Shandi would never get married.
At long last, we see Shandi at work in the infamous Walgreens, donning a sales clerk uniform (accessorized with an “I *heart* my customers” button) that is a far cry from the couture frocks she was sporting in New York and Milan. Shandi says that she entered the competition largely because with her life, she had nothing to lose. But when she got there, she felt out of place amongst all the “really pretty girls.” Skip ahead a bit to the makeover, when KAPOW a little peroxide, some Lasik, and few snips later, they uncovered the glamorous beauty who’d been hiding all along. “It started to make me believe I belonged there,” Shandi recalls.
As painful as it is to watch, you knew you couldn’t avoid this: a breezy rehash of Evil Shandar’s infidelity in Italia and the tearful confession to her boyfriend back at home in the States, Eric. “This is one of the times in my life I felt the worst about something I did,” Shandi says, “I’ve never felt so horrible. I just had no desire to be there anymore, and the judges could see that too.” We watch as Shandi waves goodbye after her elimination. Still, she sees her tumultuous time on ANTM as a growing experience which helped her to break out of her insecurity.
After the show, we learn, Shandi had to return to work at Walgreens, but “just for the time being.” She is not without her admirers; a cute old lady asks Shandi if “you were the one on the modeling thing?” Shandi leans on the checkout counter, smiling politely, and nodding yes though she probably is getting sick of hearing people ask that. “My boyfriend and I, we’re still having problems with the trust issue,” Shandi tells us, over footage of them walking together, hand-in-hand. “What she did was wrong,” Eric says, “But I have been able to forgive her.” “We’re going to make it work,” Shandi vows.
Eric is not the only person in her life with whom she’s reconciled. Sitting on a couch, holding her mother’s hand, Shandi says that while she doesn’t necessarily feel “closer” to her mom, she does feel like she’s resolved at least some of her feelings which makes her want to get closer to her mother. “I’m very proud of Shandi,” Shandi’s mom says, “I never in my wildest dreams thought this would happen to one of my girls.” If she means getting caught skroaking an anonymous Italian overseas, then no, I can’t imagine I would be anticipating that either.
Shandi says that she is saving up money to move to New York, where is continuing to pursue her modeling career and has meeting with eight agencies. Tyra caps off the segment by adding that the Shanthrax is currently “shooting a big magazine spread” for Glamour and CosmoGirl.
The Girl Who Wishes Everyone Would Stop Making Her Boobs an Issue, and Yet Refers to Them Incessantly
With all the millions that are spent on WonderBras and surgical enhancements and Juggs subscriptions, who would think that having big boobs would be a problem? Alas, in Bethany’s case it has been a problem (well, really, two) of such size and magnitude, that we really don’t know anything about her other than that she is the girl on the show with the massive mammaries. Well, we won’t learn anything else about her today either. Her segment is a lengthy reiteration of the whole D-cup debacle, although we do learn that she is thinking about moving to LA to continue pursuing modeling.
The Girl Who Lost The Genetic Lottery but Won the Hearts of America
Bethany wasn’t the only one who got pigeonholed. “What’s up, people? I’m Jenascia and I’m back in Seattle, Washington about to start my shift at Hooters. That’s right, still slingin’ chicken wings,” says the resident vertically-challenged ANTM contestant. We follow her on a typical day at work, where she mans the bar with the same spunky aplomb and acerbic humor that made her America’s Top Snarkster. She asks patrons if they want another beer, and when they say no, she sharply answers, “Well, good, I didn’t want to get it anyway.” She leaves a wind-up chicken on the counter so she can go do a crossword.
Jenascia says that she was actually shocked when she was selected to participate in the competition; then we see a rapid-fire montage of all the flack she got from everyone for her height, including inane advice like “Think tall” and “Just try a little bit harder.” Jenascia croaks, “I can drink all the milk with calcium in my cereal and take all the vitamins I want, but let’s face it, I’m not getting any taller.” She then goes on to butcher the phrase “haute couture.”
“To be honest with you, I always wanted to act,” Jenasia admits, especially comedy. “Saturday Night Live, call me,” she cracks, only half-joking. “I’m back in the real world where I’m taller than most women and can still date any gy I want because I’m shorter than most of them and that is a gift.” A crowd of guys at bar yell, “Jenascia, you’re the one,” with one big galoot adding, “You’re not too short!” Jenascia thanks them, breaking out into a laugh and smiling with real appreciation. UPN give this girl a series. I’m not talking NBC here, it’s UPN, c’mon, who’s it gonna hurt?
The Girl Who Is Still Trying to Prove She is Not a Robot
At long last, we finally get a glimpse of the person whom April deems as the “love of my life”—Nigel Barker? Sorry, Nipril shippers, the lucky guy who holds claim to April’s heart is Patrick Jacobs, a fellow NYU graduate who moved down to Miami to be with April (where April got a job as an account executive for Airborne Express). Lots of fun footage of the two sweethearts on the beach together, as she tells us that it was largely his encouragement that has compelled her to pursue her dream profession. He says he wasn’t shocked when April was picked to participate because “most of the things she wants to do in life end up happening for her.”
They run through her fellow competitors’ opinions of her as a cold competitor, a machine that executes each challenge with precision and perfection. April admits to feeling hurt over discovering that some of the girls did not support her, or had been saying mean things about her. Nonetheless, the whole experience made her realize how much she truly enjoyed working in front of camera.
April sets the record straight on her attitude towards her ethnicity. She feels misunderstood by the judges, and says that the notion that she is ashamed of her Asian heritage could “not be further from truth.” She also feels that the judges misread her “nervousness as rigidness” and “timidness as cockiness.” After her elimination, she says she “cried for 30 minutes” then moved on.
And how! We follow April to her photo shoot for Stuff magazine and HOLY COW SHE IS LOOKING RED HOT in a crimson halter body suit and, well, little else. She says she loves the loves the feeling she gets when she’s in front of the camera “creating art with my body.” She is also bound to be creating much more than that, when red-blooded American males get a hold of their issue of Stuff. Like a proud mama, Tyra boasts that April has signed with New York Models, and that the owner is so impressed he’s managing her himself.
The Girl Who Walked Whack as if She Was on Crack
After a montage of her most embarrassing moments (and their accompanying commentary like J. Alexander’s notorious criticisms of her walk, or Nole’s description of her as a “walrus”), Xiomara laughs and says she knew she was not perfect when she entered the competition, “But when someone tells me something, I will take that and turn it into a positive.” She says that she has definitely improved a lot as a result of the show, physically and mentally; plus, she’s more confident. Xiomara still works as a bartender, but says it’s an easy way to make $1000 for two nights of work, leaving Monday through Friday free for castings and go-sees. We then meet her manager, a loony old scarlet-haired yenta named Marianne who fusses over every minor detail of Xio’s appearance. Xio herself tells us that she has signed with the agency Boss Models. “Right now is real competition: who’s making moves, who’s not; who’s booking work, who’s not. That’s all,” she says confidently. Looks like the former “child of the damned” is up for the challenge. She’ll be in a spread for FHM magazine, and is fielding offers from three major cosmetic lines.
The Girl Who Hasn’t Changed a Bit—She’s Still Boring Me to Death
Heather. She looks exactly the same. She behaves exactly the same. What else do you want to know? That she wants to act? I wouldn’t quit my day job if I were her—that’s assuming, of course, that she even has a day job. We see her at UPN casting with Catie, where she reads a portion of the script and is terrible, just awful. I mean, Camille’s stage performance ran circles around Heather’s unconvincing, grating reading. The agent tells her “you take the acting classes, you pursue it…you have a good shot at it.” Emphasis on take acting classes…That’s polite agent-speak for YOU SUCK! “I want it all,” Heather says, ambitiously. James Lipton shouldn’t hold his breath!
The Girl Everyone Hates
ANTM watchers know that before there was even an Omarosa, there was Camille. Tyra comments that Camille “normal and sweet” in her audition, in fact “a little too normal and sweet.” Tyra was “shocked that she turned out to be the girl that everyone hated,” because as we all know by now, Tyra has the superpower of omniscience.
There is clip montage of Camille’s greatest hits: the egotism, the fights, the diva antics, the mirror hogging, the “signature walk”! She says that the person she got along with least (is there a single person she even got along with?) was Yoanna, jabbing, “I honestly think there is something about my personality, my confidence level…that she wished that she possessed herself.”
Time and again the judges told her to work on her attitude, her humility. But is she really now, as she promised, a “better Camille”? Well, she’s certainly no less delusional. Back home in Washington, she claims “I can’t really go places without people recognizing me...” We watch as a couple of folks approach her in the street, and as she signs a Jamaican flag inside some store. Yep, Camille those are some huge crowds. We see her at Howard University, or “Black Harvard” as Camille refers to it. “It’s all about looking good,” she says for her alma mater, calling it “a real fashion school.” If I’m not mistaken, I always that college was “all about” education—as any mother (and even Will Smith) will tell you, “you go to school to learn, not for a fashion show.”
We watch her get her hair did before going out the club with her group of “friends”. I highly doubt Camille even has any, and since the handful of girls are dressed like prostitutes, I’m willing to guess she paid these ladies to ber posse tonight. They’re not the only ones on payroll, however. Camille has bodyguards—yes, bodyguards—“because of my popularity now, I have to look after my own safety.” Earth to Camille, people who want to hurt you generally aren’t fans. At home, even her mom (who is gorgeous, by the way) describes Camille as “spoiled to the hilt.” Camille whines, “Not spoiled!” She also pleads, “I’m really not a bitch…Trust me, you will see me again.” Interestingly, when Tyra comes on after Camille’s segment there is no announcement of photo shoots for any magazines, cosmetics campaigns, not even a UPN casting! Nada. Looks like it could be as while before we’re seeing Camille anywhere.
The Girl Who Lost It All to Win It All
What about the babysitter, now America’s Next Top Model. At 7am in NYC, Yoanna has an entourage (a real entourage, Camille!) following her around as she runs the whole publicity circuit: it’s whirlwind of press appearances like the CBS Morning Show, Regis & Kelly Live. She is poised as ever, and looks fantastic (emphasis on “stick” because the girl has lost even more weight and looks thin as a rail). We watch her as she is shuttled around Manhattan in a limo, accosted by crowds of people, snapping pictures, and calling her name. After doing some TV appearances, she heads over to Sephora for her free shopping spree. Now I’m jealous. Yoanna captures the feeling I get whenever I’m in a Sephora boutique, “like Charlie going in the Willy Wonka factory.” Yoanna then goes to Jane Magazine to meet with Eric, who is planning the wardrobe for the shoot. Finally, she heads over to IMG Models to meet, greet, and map out the weeks ahead.
She flies out to Los Angeles for an appearance on “On-Air” with Ryan Seacrest, then it’s off to work LA fashion week, which Yoanna describes as like “being part of the fashion Olympics.” They show her holding her own amongst the other models on the runway for the Custo Barcelona show (pity they didn’t include her other shows, like Sue Wong or even Petro Zillia).
Finally it’s home to Jacksonville, Florida for her 24th birthday, and they break out her childhood pictures, of a pudgy little girl from K-8th grade. Yoanna says that up till now, she estimates she lost 60 lbs in total, over the course of 2 ½ years. We see her working out at the Yoga Den with her little sister, a slightly chunky little girl with a sweet smile who appears to resemble Yoanna’s “Before” pictures. You have to admire Yoanna’s hard work and determination to participate in the industry she loves. She said she always had the fashionista inside, but losing the weight finally made more people pay attention.
Yoanna, living the high life, says that if you set your mind to it, you can realize your lifelong dreams. Think you have what it takes? Download the application at UPN.com, Tyra says, “And you could be hanging out with me in NYC.”
You can email The Girl Who Wrote This Recap at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com . See you next Fall for America’s Next Top Model 3!!!