America’s Next Top Model 9 Finale: Breakdowns, Slip-Ups, and Top Modelsby Phil Kural -- 12/13/2007
This season, we saw some girls exceed and soar, while others never got off the ground. Three have made it to the finals, and one will be crowned America’s Next Top Model. Will it be Chantal, the bubbly blonde from Texas? She proved from the start that she is a beauty to be reckoned with, but after a video shoot that landed her in the bottom two, the judges wondered if the Barbie blonde can be extraordinary. Then there’s Saleisha, the California girl with confidence. She rattled her competition by winning the first two challenges, but relied on her commercial look. Can she prove she’s a model ready for the next level? Finally, there’s Jenah, the photogenic tomboy from Connecticut. She’s full of sarcasm, and the judges have been put off by her attitude. Can she turn on the charm and prove she’s there to win? Let’s find out!
The girls get home from Bianca’s elimination and have Tyra mail waiting for them. It says that this competition is ripe for the picking, so now it’s time to show their flavor. Saleisha comments that she has made it this far and can’t believe what a long journey it has been. Jenah tells Saleisha that if she’s in the bottom two with her, that she’ll (Jenah) be going home. Then she comments to the camera that going home at this point isn’t an option – she has hung on this long, so she doesn’t want to go home now.
In the morning, the girls arrive at the shoot and meet up with Jay. He tells them it’s time for a Cover Girl print ad and commercial, in which the winner will have the print ad run nationally. It’s for a lip gloss, of course. Isn’t the final photo always for a lip gloss? Jaslene comes in to give the girls advice, and I love it – she looks great! Chantal comments that she wants to be in Jaslene’s shoes – literally – they are yellow with cute straps! Saleisha says she’s taking it all in, as we see them go through makeup. Jenah is nervous and knows that this will be a real ad, so it’s terrifying and exciting at the same time. Please – you’re toast, Jenah!
Chantal is up first and she looks amazing! Jay thinks that she sounds too rehearsed and wants her to sound more “conversation.” She does just that and it sounds much better. Chantal feels like a Cover Girl is friendly, like her. In comes Jenah next, and she’s made up like a man, so I’m thinking sabotage right out of the gate. She freezes when the camera begins to run, and when Jay gets frustrated enough to say she might need to use cue cards, it straightens her right out and she does it correctly. Jenah thinks she did the best she could, but I’m not impressed. Jay thinks that people will see her a bitchy, and that she really has to work on that.
Saleisha is last and stumbles right off with her lines. Jay is disappointed and she continues to mess up. She can’t get it down and by the time it’s take 12, she begins to cry. Jay has a talk with her and she starts again, and this time – much better. She steps off the shoot and does her photo next and I have to say she looks like a drag queen. [Associate Editor’s note: Not like that ever hurt anyone on this show – look who won last cycle.] Chantal does her photo, too, and looks great, while Jenah’s hair looks like a rat’s nest in her photo. She’s worried about panel, but says that whatever happens, happens!
Tyra welcomes the girls and says that it’s time to narrow them down to two. The two finalists will be walking in a Qi Gang fashion show, and he’s the special guest judge. Saleisha comes up first and Tyra asks her who has the most potential of the final three. She says that she does. The least potential? Jenah. Even though she takes great photos, she has no personality.
Chantal is next, and asked who has the most potential. She thinks she does. The least? Jenah, since she doesn’t think she’d want her little sister looking up to her, since Jenah thinks she’s better than people. Jenah, of course, thinks she has the most potential, and Chantal has the least since she’s amateur. I can’t argue with that! Jenah says she’s different, but she thinks that people will look up to her since she’s real.
Now it’s time to judge the commercials and photos. Saleisha was tangerine splash, and the judges are impressed, even though Jay says it took 20 takes. Her photo is happy and believable. However, Tyra says that she continues to have only one smile. Chantal is next. Her commercial is great and Nigel thinks it’s sincere and Twiggy finds it charming. Her photo is okay, and Tyra is happy with it. Jay says that she has the girl-next-door quality.
Finally, we have Jenah, who the judges feel was making fun of the commercial the whole time. Nigel doesn’t think that she believes in herself and Jenah says that nobody understand her, and she’s not mean and doesn’t think she’s better than anyone. Tyra plays Oprah and digs, asking what’s going on. Jenah finally cries and says she hates that she’s being judged. Tyra tells her it’s okay, and continues to console. I wish Maury were here. The judges look at Jenah’s photo and I appreciate that they fixed her teeth, which is good. The judges aren’t so sure. Time to deliberate!
The judges feel like Saleisha is listening to them and taking it all in. She’s a Cover Girl to a T. She doesn’t have high fashion down yet, though. Jenah managed to do a 180 at judging, and Nigel thinks that she really meant her apology. She has some issues and she’s dealing with them, although Tyra admits that she takes the best photos. Chantal has the whole package. She’s the most flexible, but she is the most amateur as well. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.
The girls come back in. Tyra says it’s time to narrow it down to two, and the first name called is Chantal! She says she’s been dreaming about this moment for a long time, as the other two step forward. Tyra says that Saleisha came into the competition and had the modeling experience, but she still had girls who had little experience, like Jenah, stomp all over her. However, there is something very special in her that all the judges see. Jenah came in with hardly any experience and took great photos that rival models today. They know now who she is. But who is going home? The final photo goes to… Saleisha! Tyra tells Jenah that she could have a career one day, and then sends her on her way, out into the world to fend for herself.
Jenah says that she hopes she made a breakthrough at panel. She was scared of coming across the wrong way, and wanted to win the whole thing – she knows she came so far. There was a lot of pressure on her, and she’s sad that she didn’t come out on top. She has nothing to be ashamed of, though. Portfolio-wise, I think she has the best of the season!
The next day, the final two girls meet up with Ann Shoket from Seventeen magazine. They are told that the pictures they take today will appear on the cover of Seventeen. Saleisha says that she likes Chantal, but she’s still her competition, so she has to win. Chantal tells the camera that she came so far and knows that nothing can stop her now. On that note, they are done. Okay, that segment was pointless.
Next, the girls meet up with Mr. and Ms. J. They see the runway they will be walking on for the show and are informed that they will start out as old and go into the future. There will be 500 extras in the show and Jaslene will open the show. Apparently they aren’t wasting any time, though, since the next scene is the girls in makeup talking with Jaslene. She says that this is their moment. Tyra greets the girls and I have to say that she looks really fake! Each girl will have three changes, and Tyra wishes them luck. I’m so getting sick of Tyra.
The show begins, and I have no clue where the audience is. Everyone in the crowd is an extra. The judges walk the runway, and I’m so confused why this is going on. Why on Earth is Tyra walking down the runway with someone holding an umbrella for her? Does she want a comeback? This is the weirdest show ever. Then the people on stilts come out with Jaslene! Ugh… her walk looks great, though.
Saleisha is out first and I think her walk is a little tight. Chantal follows and I have to admit she looks amateur, like the judges said. When the girls get backstage from their first walk, they are torn apart and changed into something else. Saleisha goes out again and her walk has attitude. Chantal is next and her walk is okay, but I’m just not impressed. By the third walk, Saleisha looks really good and Tyra is impressed with her poses. Chantal follows and her dress gets caught in the stilts of one of the extras. She totally loses concentration and messes up. In the end, though, all the models come out clapping and Chantal gets backstage and cries, knowing that it’s all over at this point. Yeah, it’s all over for her winning – we remember the screw-up with Melrose!
The girls arrive at panel and Ms. J.’s hair is now the size of a toddler. Tyra says that one girl will win a modeling contract with Elite Model Management, a cover and six-page spread in Seventeen magazine, and a $100,000 contract with Cover Girl cosmetics.
It’s time to look at their photos over the competition, and the smoking photo is first. The judges feel that Chantal was graceful in her first shoot and showed promise. Saleisha was graceful, too. In their “fashion gargoyle” photo shoot, Chantal was sexy and Saleisha was unique. When they worked with Tyra, Saleisha was extraordinary and took China by storm with her poses. Chantal was tiptoeing and took full advantage of dominating the photo.
Now let’s talk about the final runway. Ms. J. thinks that Chantal was short and baby doll, but wasn’t quick enough. She didn’t own her space. Saleisha had it down, though. Twiggy thinks that she looked like she was on the runway her whole life. She felt Chantal started out confident but never let her nerves go, while Nigel thinks that Saleisha had the walk down and Chantal was just “good.” Chantal admits to slipping and breaking character, and Tyra adds that Saleisha was confident, but got a little too into it at times. She had a lot of booty and shoulder. Tyra felt Chantal looked great, but was stiff. Now it’s time for the final deliberation!
The judges talk about the girls, and they all feel that both have something to prove and show. Ms. J. thinks that they are both commercial, but if they want high fashion, Chantal should win. Twiggy says that Chantal is the winner, body-wise, but Nigel counters and says she’s not in control of her body, while Saleisha is – she doesn’t need much training. Ms. J. thinks that Saleisha is TOO in control, and a bit stiff. Tyra didn’t think they would make it this far, since both were so commercial, and she knows that she’s going to crush someone by sending her home. She hates having to deliver the news, but they reached a decision. I think I know who has this.
Tyra greets the girls and tells them they both came a long way. Both admit to being nervous, and Tyra says the screen next to them will have the photo of the winner, and that girl will be an Elite model and on the cover of Seventeen. The winner is… Saleisha! Saleisha drops to the ground and then hugs Chantal. Chantal tells the camera that it hurts and she wanted this. It wasn’t meant to be and she says she’ll continue to work hard.
Saleisha gloats – I mean talks about winning. She says that she was always a shy kid and sort of an ugly duckling, but is so proud now. She dreamed of this and fought for it, and now has got it. She cries to the judges and they congratulate her, and so ends Cycle 9 of America’s Next Top Model.
I’m not surprised Saleisha won. I picked her as the final three from my pre-show article, and even said she would probably win. I’m pretty good at that! So now all we have to do is look forward to next season, and since Twiggy won’t be around, I can already feel my blood pressure going down. Thanks to all the readers for the tons of emails – I love them!Phil Kural is an office manager at a dental office, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. You can send feedback to him at email@example.com.