Americaís Next Top Model 8, Finale: Back To The Stone Ageby Phil Kural -- 05/17/2007
Before I get into my recap, have you read my article updating you on some of the girls from Cycles past? If not, I suggest you do that right now!
We begin this week with Tyra telling us that the 13 girls this season have been through it all! Some have hit some great heights, while others have been washed up. Through it all though, three girls have stuck out, and are now the final three.
Thereís Natasha, the Russian beauty and mom who came into the competition knowing the least about modeling. She was almost sent home during the second elimination, but her optimistic view and ability to learn has helped her improve the most. Although she is the most improved, is it enough to win?
Then thereís Jaslene, the Latin spitfire who didnít make it for Cycle 7. She proved that his season, sheís a force to be reckoned with. Her photos have been very consistent, but her personality has been fading. Will she be able to embrace herself, but not be over the top?
Finally, thereís Renee Ė the mom from Hawaii. She has taken amazing photos, but aggravated her competitors through the show. Se was confronted, but managed to find balance with herself. Will she find a way to show her maternal glow and still be fierce? Letís see!
The first we see of the girls this week they are meeting with Jay Manuel, who tells them itís time for their Cover Girl photo shoot and commercial. The print ad they are shooting will appear nationally and Renee says that she has always dreamed of being a Cover Girl, as she shows up the Cover Girl wink!
Jay tells the girls that they will be doing a commercial for a new lip color, not to mention a segment for ďMy Life as a Cover Girl.Ē Renee will be on a boat, Jaslene will be getting out of a car on a red carpet and Natasha will be backstage at a photo shoot. They wonít have ea script, so it will all be ad libbed, and the girls will be forced to really be themselves and show what they got.
Jim De Yonker is their photographer, who actually shot the ads for Danielle and MY CariDee. Jay thinks the girls still need a little more help, so he brought along MY CariDee to help them out! She tells the girls not to over think the whole thing, and sheís glad that she isnít them right now. Yeah, great advice! Although, she adds to the camera that she thinks itís good that the girls hear it from a girl that has gone through it all.
Natasha says itís important to get the commercial down, as she is filled on a few lines that she needs to say. Sheís up first, and you can tell when she is doing her commercial that she practiced a bit too much. It sounds very rehearsed, and Jay brings that up to her. Once Natasha ditches the script, she does a much better job and sounds real.
Renee is up next and sheís on a boat, confused about her lines. She begins by saying her life was over when she had a child. Probably not the way you want to begin a commercial. Jay tells her to turn a negative into a positive and she says itís the best thing ever. Yeah, Iím sure her child is going to love seeing that one day! She does turn it around though, and I love her lines once she gets it together Ė and she looks great!
Finally, thereís Jaslene, who is getting out a car and onto the red carpet. She says that she lives the fabulous life, but really is coming off a little fake. Jay has a talk with her as well and tells her to act like she is with her girlfriends. She has some issues still, but once she gets into the swing of it, Jaslene does well, even adding some Spanish to the commercial, which Jay loves! Meanwhile, in the back, CariDee gives advice to Natasha on how to make her neck look longer.
Natasha is up for her photo as well. Jim likes her but thinks that she is struggling with her smile. Meanwhile, CariDee is on the side showing Natasha what to do. Whatís up with that? Jim thinks that for Natasha to smile, she has to almost laugh, and I can see what he means.
Renee goes second and she does look pretty old during the shoot. Jim wonders if she is too old to begin a modeling career. By the end of her shoot though, I think her look begins to grow on me and I think she looks pretty good.
Then we have Jaslene, and I have to say she looks GREAT! Sheís surprised how hard it is to smile when you arenít ready, and how the muscles in the face tense up. I think she looks great though, even though she says she is struggling. Iíd even go out and buy the product!
The girls get home for the evening and Tyra mail is waiting. It says that someone is going home the next day. Renee comments to the camera that Natasha shouldnít be in the finals because sheís a ďPigeon toed duck with a piece of poop hanging out of her ass.Ē I couldnít make up that quote. Natasha thinks that Jaslene is leaving since she doesnít give personality while Jaslene says you might think you did well before going into panel, but you never know what the judges will think, so you have to expect the unexpected.
Jaslene, Renee and Natasha enter panel. The judges are introduced, including Sarah Jane Clark and Heidi Middleton, the creators of Sass & Bide, which is the fashion show that the final two will be walking in. Natasha is up first to be critiqued!
Natasha steps forward and the judges look at her commercial. Twiggy says that it must be tough for her with English being her second language, but Nigel thinks she is endearing and lovely. As for her photo, Twiggy says that she looks great, but itís not her favorite photo. The judges love that she is selling lip product and has larger lips. Iím not kidding. Nigel thinks that she has confidence in her eyes, and thatís what sells it.
Jaslene is up next and her commercial is great! The judges love that she added some Spanish, but Tyra didnít like that she kept pausing. Her photo is pretty and Nigel says that her jaw line looks great this time. Tyra says that she feels Jaslene is nervous about being too commercial, and needs to work on that. She knows that Jaslene is more comfortable being high fashion.
Finally, we have Renee. The judges love her commercial and think she looks very humble in it, which is endearing. Nigel didnít like that you couldnít really see her eyes, but thatís his only complaint. When the judges look at her photo, they think she looks comfortable, but Tyra says that she really does look a little old, and Nigel isnít sure what to make of it. Tyra says itís sad to say it, but the industry wonít be kind to a girl they might feel looks too old. Time to deliberate, and this is what the judges have to say:
Twiggy thinks that Natasha could win and that sheís extraordinary looking. The designers arenít sure, but Nigel assures them that sheís a quick study. Tyra says that Natasha touches he heart and deserves to be given a chance.
Jaslene is amazing and so pretty to Nigel. Twiggy likes that she has an edgy side and Tyra says that her photo looks a little high school, but knows that Jaslene has something inside her that can make her be fierce.
Twiggy is ga-ga over Renee and thinks that her commercial was great. Ms. J. feels that she is too mature for the whole thing and Nigel agrees. He thinks that he has seen her face before and doesnít think itís fresh. Tyra says that she has the height and body, but the other girls have the faces and the ďoomph.Ē Twiggy acts like she has no clue who to send home.
The girls walk back into panel. Tyra says that she has three girls in front of her, but only two photos. The two girls that are called will head out to have their photos taken for Seventeen magazine and then will walk together in a fashion show the next night. The girl not called will pack her bags and head home.
The first girl called isÖ Jaslene! Sheís a finalist, and says it feels so good. Tyra tells her that she worked hard for it. Renee and Natasha step forward, holding hands as if they are friends.
Tyra says that both girls are very different with their strengths and weaknesses. She says that Natasha has a smile all the time, and although she started shaky, she has gotten so much better. Her Cover Girl performance was weak, and that makes the judges nervous. Renee is strong, and wants to make her family life better. She has had some great photos, but the judges are worried about her photographing old. So who goes home? The girl with the bubbly personality or the girl that takes great photos?
Tyra gives the final photo toÖ Natasha! Natasha looks shocked, as does Jaslene on the side. Tyra says that Natasha was called because the judges see how she gets critiqued and then is amazing the next time they see her. She has the personality and the judges are rooting for her.
Renee hugs Tyra and is told that she came so far and to be proud. She hugs the other girls and tells Natasha to ďWin it for the mamas.Ē Back at the apartment, Renee says that she is blown away that she is going home. She had the best photo and the best commercial, but apparently she photographs old, which isnít good enough for the judges. She says she has wisdom in her head and knowledge in her eyes, and thatís enough for her. I notice that when they flash her pictures, Renee really does have a great body of work this season!
The final two girls arrive at their Seventeen photo shoot and meet up with Carissa Rosenberg. She says that this could be the defining moment of their time on the show and then shows them a pink hoodie that they will have to showcase. Jaslene canít believe that she is there and that if Natasha wins, sheíll be forced to pull out all of her hair. Iíd pay to see it!
Natasha goes first and says she is doing this for not only herself, but for her baby, then adds that sheíll be happy, and babies want happy women to raise them. Does that make sense? Jaslene is having her shoot as well and looks amazing. The hoodie looks great with her hair. This segment didnít last too long!
Next, the girls meet up with Tyra and Natasha is first. She tells Tyra about her life in Russia and how should couldnít go to school and sometimes had nothing to even eat. Throughout the competition, she has been concerned with how the girls saw her since she wanted to be friends with everyone. She never felt like they were against her though, even though she is from Russia. America is the melting pot, and she considers herself an American.
Jaslene talks with Tyra about how she missed Cycle 7. Jaslene says that she knew she had to believe in herself more to make others believe in her, so she built her character to satisfy herself. This is her second chance, and Iím realizing how much I really do love Jaslene and want her to win. She hugs Tyra and away they go!
Later, the girls meet up with Jay Manuel and he tells them about the final runway show, and to show us how the runway works, itís J. Alexander! CariDee will be leading the show, and it will be as an early cave woman.
The girls get ready in the back and Jaslene says that she wonít let Natasha get to her. Natasha comments that she is different than Jaslene because Jaslene is fierce, but she is more fun and has the personality.
Later that night, the guests arrive for the fashion show and Tyra greets the girls backstage. She gives them words of advice of course, and wishes them luck before the show, promising the crowd something special.
CariDee is out first for the show and I have no clue what she is wearing and how itís supposed to sell in the real world. Oh well, thatís fashion! Natasha is a bit frantic for my taste, but the judges, especially Tyra, are eating it up! Jaslene is creeping around too and Iím just not feeling it yet. However, itís all hell breaking loose backstage with outfit changes!
Natasha does her second walk and says that didnít hear anything while she was walking, but her skirt was falling off. It ends up REALLY falling off when she is at the end of the runway, but the judges say that it actually looked like it was supposed to be that way. Jaslene is doing her cha-cha walk and I love it. Natasha comments that she did better than every other girl on the runway and doesnít have to scream that she is good because people will see it themselves.
Jaslene thinks that she is fierce and that Natasha isnít bringing that. The girls do their finale, which includes ladders and a very obstructive pose, and I just donít get it, but the crowd seems to love it, and thatís all that matters!
Jay says it was one of the craziest shows heís ever been backstage for and that the girls both worked it. Natasha wonders if she rocked it enough to win and think she would be a great role model while Jaslene thinks she is the Latin spice in the competition and has the edge to win. Sheís not the girl next door, but sheís the girl down the block from the hood!
It is now time for the final panel. The girls walk in and both are nervous. They are reminded of the prizes, which include a contract with Elite Model Management, a five page spread in Seventeen magazine and $100,000 contract with Cover Girl cosmetics. Of course, the judges are here, but even Jay Manuel weaseled his way in. His excuse is that heís seen the girls since day one. What Iíve always loved about this show is that I donít have to see Jay during judging. Please remove him.
The judges take a look at Natasha first and think that her runway was great. Tyra loved how she came out and Jay said that she pulled it together. The mention how she worked the skirt that fell off, but Nigel says that she lost her original power by the end of the show though.
Jaslene had spread her legs a little wide in the beginning and was looking very ďBondĒ to Nigel. Her first pass wasnít too strong but she picked it up as the show went on. She looked like a winner and the judges loved that about her. Now itís time to compare previous photos from the season!
For the first photo shoot, the girls had to sell a political statement. Natasha was pro choice and Jaslene was pro death penalty. Natasha messed up on the first photo and Jaslene rocked it out.
The second photo shoot brought back the old high school days. Jaslene was the weirdo and the judges loved it, saying she looked so edgy, while Natasha was the teachers pet and the judges just didnít like it.
Next is the gender switch photo. Everyone thought that Natasha really improvised and brought it home, while Jaslene was able to convince people that she really was a boy and looked great while being one!
The judges look at the girls during their menís/womanís magazine photo shoots next. They feel that Jaslene needed to be more ďonĒ and that Natasha really showed a great face in her photos. Nigel must admit that he loved Jasleneís menís photo. Tyra asks the girls if they have anything to add, and both say they are grateful for the opportunity. Now the judges will deliberate.
Twiggy says that Natasha is funny. Jay likes her features and Nigel says that she is a quick study and runs with her ideas. They think she has a great future.
Nigel thinks that Jaslene started strong, but hasnít exactly improved. Jay says that her journey was coming in crazy and leaving as a sophisticated woman. Twiggy thinks that her photos are some of the best this season and Jay wonders if she could do anything other than editorial. Tyra thinks that she can, while Twiggy adds for no good reason that these two girls arenít the norm, and thatís what makes this so great.
Tyra asks who did better during the show and Ms. J. and Tyra think it was Natasha while Twiggy and Nigel think it was Jaslene. All the judges agree that they love both girls and arenít sure what to do!
For the final time, the girls walk back in. Tyra tells them that they had a very long deliberation. She says that both girls come from strong cultures, and are the epitome of what this show is about. They have the biggest hearts, but one is stronger and the judges feel can represent better. The winner isÖ Jaslene!
Jaslene breaks down right away and starts shaking, even as she hugs Tyra! She gives Natasha a hug, and Natasha tells the camera she is happy to go home and see her family. Meanwhile, Jaslene is shocked and thanks the judges. She says her family believed in her as much as she believed in herself and she overcame so much. She didnít make it the first time, but now sheís a Cover Girl and Americaís Next Top Model. Finally, she adds that you need to have the drive and keep going Ė the second time around was enough for her, as we close the Cycle with Jaslene dancing with salsa with Ms. J. and all her ruffles.
Is there a better way to end such a splendid season? I think not!Phil Kural is an office manager at a law firm, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. You can send feedback to him at email@example.com.