It’s a new day for VH1’s America’s Next Top Model! Season 24 is bringing us a more diverse cast than ever, with Tyra Banks declaring that beauty has no age, no color, and no size limitations. Hurrah! And the cast of potential models this year reflects Tyra’s mantra. They come from every corner of the country and this time, they truly are a diverse reflection of us all.
In their quest to find out who is “next level fierce,” the judges begin this season by whittling down a group of 26 to 14 models straight out of the gate. Joining Tyra on the panel are the sweet and salty Drew Elliot (Creative Consultant/Director), the hilariously catty Law Roach (Image Architect), and the gorgeous body image empowerment speaker and Supermodel, Ashley Graham.
Before we spend too much time with the judges, the would-be models start coming down the runway fast and furious for their first impression rounds in front of the panel. In quick succession, we meet the following.
First, the Yesses:
Ivana, 23 (Durham NC) is a gorgeous plus size model who speaks Mandarin, loves Tyra, worked in China, and seems to have strong raw talent. The judges love her photo.
Khrystyana, 32 (NY NY) is a bubbly blonde originally from Siberia. She embraces her curves, and is even proud of her cellulite! This makes me kind of love her immediately.
Shanice, 25 (Murfreesboro, TN) is tall and thin with short caramel hair, and is delightfully covered in tattoos. Sadly, her oldest brother passed away from a heart attack recently. This tragedy, along with growing up poor, is pushing Shanice toward success – and what she hopes is her big break on ANTM.
Liberty, 20 (Lava Hot Springs, ID) is a thin blonde who proudly declares she’s pro-Trump, sheltered, and from a town of 500 people. Law is not into Liberty at all, but the other judges agree to give her a chance. She’s got something they can’t put their finger on.
Erin, 42 (Riverside, CA ) is the oldest contestant in the history of the show, which Tyra is excited about. She is stunning – and even more so when forced to take off her not-so-fierce wig! She’s also a grandmother of 3 and mother of 5 who put her modeling dreams on hold to raise her babies, but now she’s back in the game. Erin has cheekbones to die for and legs for days, so she’s a quick yes from the entire panel. “You can be fierce at any age!” cheers Tyra.
Liz, 24 (NY NY) is a petite blonde who trips on stage and seems a wee bit drunk, but the judges love her face, so she makes it through.
Christina, 34 (Jenkintown, PA) is the most polarizing contestant thus far – not for her look, but for her attitude. When Drew tells her, “You have a very editorial face,” Christina obnoxiously responds, “I’m a model.” The judges don’t like her. Christina back-talks them and basically says she doesn’t care who likes her because she doesn’t like everyone either! Tyra finally cuts her off to advise, “You are older than people on this panel, but now you are a child and I’m talking to you like a parent!” She demands respect for her judges in “her house,” which Christina isn’t offering. Despite Christina’s abrasive personality, the judges reluctantly agree to let her move on in the competition because her photo is great. Something tells me we’ll be seeing more antics from this firecracker very soon.
Jeana, 24 (Minneapolis, MN) is a frail but striking woman who has alopecia, which makes her hair fall out, and has resulted in her feeling “different” throughout life.
Maggie, 20 (Surry, Maine) struts in wearing a huge red hat and calling herself a “white homegirl,” which the judges immediately side eye. Drew sees Maggie as Ralph Lauren model, so she’s got potential. Without the hat, of course.
Laminat, 22 (Brussels, Belgium) comes in rapping.
Ilka, 25 (Concord, NH) comes in punching the air (she was a boxer in the past).
Sandra, 22 (Cliffside Park, NJ) is Muslim and doesn’t drink, smoke, or have sex. She wants to show young Muslim girls everywhere that they can follow their dreams.
Coura, 24 (Eastvale, CA) is possibly the most striking of all the contestants. Trya screams, “You look like an alien! Next planet fierce!” To Tyra, that’s a high compliment.
Rio, 23 (Detroit, MI) thinks she can survive anything since she survived a rare tumor in childhood, which left a large scar on back of her head.
Next, we see the yesses who are flashed in front of the camera for mere moments before making it through to the next round. We’ll have to wait on getting to know these women until later – that is, if they make it past day one! These include Chrissy, 20 (Atlanta, GA) and Rhiyan, 20 (Orange County, CA).
Lastly, there’s the No’s (at least, those that we see on camera):
Mia, 19 (Baltimore, MD) who people call Bambi. “You look like a beautiful bird,” says Tyra. But the judges want a lion. Mia just isn’t fierce enough.
Lyric, 22 (LA, CA) is already Hollywood royalty. She’s the daughter of Kenny Anderson (retired NBA player) and Tami Roman (Basketball Wives). The judges see Lyric as more of an actress than a model, so they pass.
Angel, 31 (Hesperia, CA), also doesn’t make it past the initial test.
At the end of our first speed round, the group is assembled on risers and congratulated. Twenty women are moving on, but only fourteen spots remain for finalists. The group is also delivered news that rocks their world: This season of ANTM reserves the right to cut any contestant anytime during the competition. So, everyone needs to be on their A-game! The next round will be a photo shoot.
The models are herded into LA’s Graystone Mansion for their first shoot. Drew welcomes them to their new historic digs. Styling the shoot is Nicola Formichetti, “the man behind Lady Gaga’s look,” creative director for Diesel, and designer of Nicopanda. The garden photo shoot will require the models to embrace the “avante garden” theme of the day.
Rio is up first, styled in huge orb headdress and red gown. Then we meet Kyla, 20 (Lacey, WA) who says that being of mixed race has brought racist comments her way throughout life. She’s organized rallies for equality in the past, and now hopes to inspire others by being a role model.
During her individual shoot, Erin struggles to make different facial expressions, despite Drew’s meticulous direction. Her lifeless photos are putting everyone to sleep. “Do SOMETHING!” Drew begs, hoping she can use age to her advantage.
Christina, who the judges already dislike, needs to make a good second impression. In her pink afro and short structured gown, she gives them what they want. Drew thinks she’s amazing.
In the end, Drew tells Tyra that some of the models struggled, but most were amazing. Specifically, Laminat and Ilka struggled a lot, Erin looked like an ‘80s church model, and Christina still has a difficult personality but has an “it” factor that no one can deny.
So, Tyra wonders who’s gotta go? We’ll find out soon – but not yet! Because there’s one more hoop to jump through. The models are gathered (still in wardrobe, hair, and makeup) to hear about their next challenge: A runway walk through the garden, which is essentially an impromptu fashion show with an actual audience. Yikes!
Sadly, not everyone will walk in the show though. Laminat and Ilka are cut, and they say goodbye quickly while the others get ready to strut their stuff.
As the show unfolds, we see walks ranging from fierce to confused to tangled-up to rump shakin! “That walk is trash,” comments Law about one model.
After the show ends, no feedback is offered. We cut to the models moving into their house at nightfall, with Erin musing that she’s got a leg up on the competition because she’s lived with children for a long time. #Truth
We meet Brendi K, 22 (Nashville, TN) a quiet redhead who has never seen a house this nice. It’s like a Cinderella story for her, “a little girl who came from nothing.”
As the models hang by the pool and wander around in clusters, everyone wonders when the elimination will happen and, more importantly, who it will be? There are only fourteen beds in this house, so four more girls will be cut before bedtime. (At least, they think so…)
Liz is already breaking down crying and feeling insecure in the competition. Khrystyana tries in vain to comfort her, but Liz is spinning and can’t seem to stop. “I think she thinks we’re really close friends,” muses Khrystiana, “which I don’t understand.”
Soon, the sound of Liz’s whining and crying draw models from every corner of the house. Shanice thinks this girl is crazy – and she’s not alone! Everyone wants Liz to take her hissy fit elsewhere. Preferably out of earshot.
In the end, cuts don’t happen by bedtime, so the girls have to figure out who’s sleeping on the couch until further notice. This only serves to freak them out more.
The next morning, Tyra pops by the house to deliver the big news: Behind a curtain awaits their fate. It’s time for the final fourteen unveiling!
When Tyra drops the curtain, those who see their photos are immediately elated, while the four who are not must accept rejection. Among those not continuing on are Alexia, 22 (Peoria, IL) and 42-year old Erin, who breaks down in tears, then immediately runs upstairs to pack.
Tyra comes up to comfort Erin as she rolls her suitcase into the hallway, reminding her that dreams can be accomplished at any age. PLOT TWIST! Tyra then hands Erin her photo and reveals her secret: “There’s 15 girls!” Erin is still in the competition! Woot woot!!!
Erin is, of course, ecstatic. Tyra reminds her that beauty has no age and no color. She doesn’t want to see Erin’s dream – which she put on hold for her children – to die just yet. But “you have to work so hard,” Tyra reminds her. In the end, she believes Erin can do it. And you know what? So do I. I’m loving this season already!
Tune in reminder: America’s Next Top Model is all new Tuesdays at 8/7c on VH1