America’s Next Top Model: Phil’s Top 20 Top Modelsby Phil Kural -- 01/22/2007
I honestly feel like it’s been forever since I updated my list of the best Top Models to grace our television sets! In fact, I haven’t added or subtracted any girls from the list since the finale of Cycle 4, and there have been three Cycles since then! So I wrote down all the girls who competed, and couldn’t even narrow the list down to 12. There was just way too much talent. Therefore, I expanded the list to a Top 20.
What brought this all on? Well, I was watching VH1 and one of their ANTM marathons, and I realized that I didn’t give enough credit to some girls, while I was a bit harsh on others. Therefore, you’ll see that some girls who were on the list before moved up, while some completely disappeared! If you aren’t familiar with my original Top 12 Top Models, let me refresh your memory:
Amanda, Cycle 3
Of course, the list is not based solely on a girl’s portfolio. I take into consideration other things; like the girl’s personality, dedication, and even those dumb challenges that I don’t see much importance for. Anyway, let’s get started on the new and improved, Top 20 Top Models list!
#20 – Mollie Sue, Cycle 6: Kicking off the top 20 is Cycle 6’s Mollie Sue. In my opinion, Mollie Sue really got the shaft. She was edited as the girl who was lacking personality, and that’s why she was eliminated. Based on her photos though, I think she had the potential to go so much further.
In fact, when I interviewed most of the girls from Cycle 6, they told me that Mollie Sue had a great personality, and was edited to look bland. We only got to see several photos from Mollie Sue during her Cycle (okay, that sounded dirty), but I feel like had she been shown with a little more personality, then she would have been a force to be reckoned with!
#19 – Nik, Cycle 5: I have to admit that on my rough draft, I didn’t have Nik in the Top 20. However, after I watched her Cycle again, it seemed like she earned her spot on the list. What I liked about Nik was that she was a true competitor. Every time we saw Nik, she was trying something new or figuring out a way to get better as a model.
In fact, I think Nik really did almost have the competition in the bag, sans when the judges felt, at the last possible moment in the competition, that her walk was a little too “bouncy” for their taste. There weren’t many photos in Nik’s portfolio that weren’t on a higher level, and she always carried herself with a very minimal amount of drama and managed to stay out of all the conflicts in the house. If you didn’t watch Cycle 5, it was drama to the max!
#18 – Jade, Cycle 6: I can honestly say that every fan of the show I’ve ever come into contact with has either loved Jade or hated her. However, oddly enough, I think more people love her than hate her, and I’ve become one of the lovers! Maybe her attitude let a lot to be desired, but when it came to modeling, Jade knew how to throw it down!
Maybe her previous experience helped her out, but Jade always knew the right way to pose, the correct way to walk, and knew exactly what to do when it came to the challenges. She truly was a pro, and had it not been for her conflicting personality when it came to talking with the judges, she definitely would have made it to the final two. Well, that and the whole “Thank you for believing in me” thing. I still crack up when I think of that. Either way, Jade earned her way onto this list at number 18!
#17 – Brittany, Cycle 4: Still probably one of the sexiest girls to appear on the show, Brittany had some issues with her sexuality at first, but once she was able to bring herself back in, she was able to use her sexuality as sensuality, and we all know how much the judges love that. Several times she was compared to a younger Janice Dickinson, and I don’t think many were far off in saying that.
Brittany was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, and her personality was great too. In all honesty, I think it’s fair to say that she paved the way for CariDee to win in Cycle 7. I don’t think the judges were ready to let such a saucy girl win yet, but she did make it to fourth place. Even better for Brittany, I’ve seen her several times in print since the show has ended, so her modeling career and potential are still growing, and I couldn’t be happier – girl had it going on!
#16 – Nicole, Cycle 5 (Winner): I remember back when Cycle 5 aired, Nicole was one of my favorite girls. In fact, she was one of “MY” girls! Things have changed though. The few times I have seen her since the show ended, she appeared plastic, and almost a bit cocky! It wasn’t the Nicole I feel in love with. That being said, Nicole had some pretty off the hook photos.
I think Nicole’s best asset was that she wasn’t very cookie cutter. Nicole was different than the other girls, but when she was taking her photos, she looked so high fashion, and that was one of the reasons Tyra said she won. She had the desire too. From the moment we saw Nicole in the semi-finals, she was begging the judges to make it into the house to show them what she could do. Sure, she was a bit immature at times, but she was only 18! Nicole deserved to win her Cycle, but I wish she would have continued to be the fun, quirky girl that could turn out couture photos that we got to see on the show.
#15 – Melrose, Cycle 7: This is another girl who people either loved or hated, and unlike Jade, I’m more on the hate side for this one. However, my dislike for Melrose has nothing to do with her being an amazing model. This girl knew what she was doing, and the judges knew that. Her poses were always on point and besides her first photo, I can’t think of anytime that Melrose didn’t impress me.
Melrose looked great in all her shoots, and she did learn to tone it down a little in front of the judges. If she had won over CariDee, I wouldn’t have been mad, simply because she would have deserved it. She worked hard and it paid off. Even her walk was flawless. Melrose knew the industry inside out as well. This wasn’t new to her – it was her passion. If the competition was based on WANTING THIS, I think Melrose would have surpassed any girl who ever appeared on the show.
#14 – Shandi, Cycle 2: It’s funny that Shandi is coming in at number 14, when I didn’t even include her in my original list of girls. I think what swung my opinion was all the emails I received after my first list for leaving her out. It made me go back, look at her portfolio, and watch the marathon of Cycle 2 on VH1 a lot more closely. You know what – people were right! Shandi had it going on! She came such a long way from that little clerk at Walgreens.
What’s great about Shandi is that even though she was a bit scared to let loose and “be” a model, she was still doing it. Shandi didn’t have to try – she didn’t know what she was doing, but she was still doing it perfectly. Well, until the whole cheating episode. Either way, Shandi truly did pull off the transformation from small-town girl into full-fledged model. Her portfolio was that of a real supermodel and she did come a long way. Even though her walk never really became what it should have been, her pictures did the talking for her!
#13 – Yaya, Cycle 3: I still treasure MY Yaya! I’ll never forget when I was doing my Cycle 3 review and I came across her. She was so pretty, and really did have that edge that I thought the judges would love. Not only that, but it turned out that Yaya was extremely sophisticated and intelligent, which I think helped her in the competition.
Yaya overcame her skin problem and really did make an impact. She won challenge after challenge, and although some of the other girls (and even the judges) felt that she was a bit condescending at times, she really did pull it all together in the end. Second place is nothing to be ashamed of, and it just wasn’t Yaya’s time to win. However, of all the girls from this show, I think it’s safe to say that Yaya has been the most successful. I’ve seen her in movies, TV shows, commercials, and print ads. This girl has done it all, and I think we have yet to see the last of her.
#12 – Kim, Cycle 5: I don’t think anyone (even herself) expected Kim to end up doing as well as she did. In fact, I think she should have made it a lot further than the final five, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes I feel like this show would never let an openly gay woman win. That’s just my opinion though.
I think Kim really did have a look that might have been confusing to some, but most of the judges found it very unique. Kim used her look and understood she wasn’t going to be looked at like the other girls were. She had to try harder, and even though she had the whole androgynous look going on, Kim managed to work past her frustrations and really put out a great portfolio. Cycle 5 was one of the weaker cycles, but Kim was definitely a stand out. There’s no doubt in my mind that had she approached the competition differently, she might have won.
#11 – Michelle, Cycle 7: When I saw the whole twin twist for Cycle 7, I thought it was shaky at best. My initial thoughts were that they were both going to be terrible, and Tyra would end up saying that they didn’t know how to be individuals and be sent home. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, Amanda outlasted her sister Michelle, but it’s Michelle who lands on this list at number 11.
From the beginning of the competition, Michelle showed that she was a model. Photo after photo, she was posed from head to toe, and although she didn’t want to win as much as Amanda, that didn’t really matter because it never showed. In the end, I think it was a great idea to have the twins on the show, and it actually worked! I really wish Michelle had lasted longer than the final five because I think she would have been great in the runway show!
#10 – April, Cycle 2: This has probably been said a million times, but I still think that April is the best “technical” model that has ever appeared on the show. Her poses were always well thought out, and you could tell that she planned things in advance. The only girl who I feel could rival her on a technical scale would probably be Melrose, but even she falls short of April.
What I liked most about April was her desire to win. She had all the drive in the world, and to be honest, I still don’t know how Shandi and Yoanna made it further than her in Cycle 2. Watching the marathon, when it came to posing and natural talent, April was way beyond both of them. Although, from my understanding, April has actually survived after the show in the modeling industry, while Shandi is still working at Walgreens. Go figure.
#9 – Tiffany, Cycle 4: Tiffany takes a pretty drastic slide from the last time she appeared on the list. Going from #2 all the way to #9 is steep, but there is no doubt that Tiffany still had all the potential in the world to do well in the competition. Who will ever forget when she didn’t make it into the house during Cycle 3, vowing that she was giving up and just going to settle in her rut? She then returned for Cycle 4, making it into the house and becoming a viewer favorite because of her off-the-wall comments and great photos.
Sure, Tiffany stumbled along the way, even to the point where she gave up in front of the judges and received a verbal beat down from Tyra when she was sent home. However, though it all, Tiffany was Tiffany. What you saw was what you got, and Tiffany never tried to be fake or be someone that she wasn’t. Her photos weren’t the best of the season, but the girl knew how to model. I’m actually bit surprised we haven’t seen much of her since her stint on the show!
#8 – Adrianne, Cycle 1 (Winner): The original America’s Next Top Model, Adrianne was the guinea pig when it came to winning on ANTM. Her prizes sounded great, but didn’t end up working out all that well for her. She’s been pretty much ostracized from the show in every aspect, down to the opening credits, where every winner of the show is shown except for her. That being said, Adrianne worked hard for her win, and was a model through and through.
Adrienne wasn’t the most graceful of the girls during her season, and she had some problems when it came to articulating her speech, but these were things that she knew she had to improve on, and did! The girl fought through it all. When coming down with a stomach flu, and actually having to go to the emergency room, she still left the hospital and headed to panel. Not only was the desire there, but the talent was there as well. Adrianne had an almost flawless portfolio that easily brought her into the finals, and later, to the win. Adrianne truly was an inspiration to girls who would apply in later Cycles, and because of her stint on the show, she was able to go on The Surreal Life, where she met her now fiancé, Christopher Knight! Talk about model networking.
#7 – Joanie, Cycle 6: Joanie sure was put through the ringer during Cycle 6. She didn’t start out as one of the strongest models, but she never appeared as one of the weaker ones either. In fact, Joanie was the only girl from her season to never appear in the bottom two. She made it all the way to the final two before she was eliminated, and that she was never in the bottom two was well deserved.
Like I said, although she started out slow, Joanie was never near the bottom, and over time, really came into her own. The judges loved her innovative posing and her understanding when it came to being in front of the camera. On top of that, Joanie showed that she was willing to do whatever it took to win, when she let Tyra and company send her to an oral surgeon to fix her one tooth that was sticking out a bit too far. When it was time for her photo after her tooth was pulled, you would have never even known Joanie was in so much pain from the look on her face, which was calm and relaxed. This was another time where Joanie or Danielle could have won, and I would have been equally happy.
#6 – CariDee, Cycle 7 (Winner): It’s that popping personality that CariDee possesses that lifted her above Melrose to win Cycle 7, and land at number six on my countdown. Although, I don’t question for a second that CariDee knew how to model. It’s just that with her personality, it helped her that much more. What people loved most about CariDee was that she was a “rags to riches” story. Not that she was poor, and couldn’t afford to model, but that she overcame a disease (psoriasis) that virtually would have shut her out from modeling for the rest of her life.
CariDee was determined, funny, thoughtful, and kind. People were able to relate to her, and that’s what made her head and shoulders above Melrose, in my opinion. There was never a time when CariDee said, “I can’t do it.” She braved getting hypothermia just to get a good picture when the girls were in the pool together for the doubles shoot. When it was down to the final six during Cycle 7, I never doubted that CariDee would walk away with the win. She had everything the judges were looking for – and more! I think CariDee might end up being the most popular winner yet!
#5 – Eva, Cycle 3 (Winner): Eva remains at number 5, exactly where she landed the first time I did this list. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Eva, especially since I rooted so vocally for Yaya to win! However, you can’t take anything away from Eva. The girl is a star, and she knows it. She’s cocky and confident and it works for her. Eva’s not the type to let sleeping dogs lie. She was in your face, and you knew when she was coming.
Eva went into her season as the shortest girl, but when it came to talent and attitude, she was the largest. She never let her size hinder her, and took all the advice that the judges gave her when it came to appearing taller. Never did we see Eva not in high heels or wearing something that showed her legs, giving the illusion that she was a few inches taller. She learned the tricks of the trade quickly, took great photos, and won the judges over with her “Give ‘em hell!” attitude. I might not be happy that she won, but in the end, the girl deserved it!
#4 – Toccara, Cycle 3: If a plus-sized girl was ever going to win this competition, it would have been Toccara. I have no doubt in my mind that a plus-sized girl will never win now, and let me explain to you why. Toccara, in her skin, was perfect. She understood that she wasn’t as thin as the other girls, but she didn’t care. She was comfortable with who she was and never cried and complained about her size.
Toccara knew that the judges were constantly using her size against her, then playing it up that she was doing so well, and then acted as if none of that happened. She was constantly given contradictory advice, like “Don’t be so over the top” and episodes later being told “You lost your spark!” Through it all, Toccara moved through the competition with her head held high. I feel that she always took her body into consideration when it came to posing, and when the judges offered her critiques and tips on how to work on posing, she took the advice and ran with it. She should have lasted longer, and in my opinion, should have been right there in the final two with either Yaya or Eva.
#3 – Elyse, Cycle 1: Elyse jumps from number seven to number three on my countdown! I sat and watched my DVD collection of Cycle 1, and Elyse should have been in final two, no question. She was so high fashion it made me sick – I loved it! Every photo Elyse took looked like it could landed in a high fashion magazine the next day, and I know I’ve probably said this before, or the judges might have said this, but Elyse really does have the best portfolio in ANTM history.
The only thing that worried me about Elyse was her desire to be a model. She had her heart set on going to med school and becoming a doctor. I’m sure she would succeed at this as well, since it was no secret that she was a very bright girl, but modeling is her calling. She’s beautiful, and the camera loved her ever step of the way. In fact, it’s my understanding that Elyse is still signed and works rather regularly in the industry. That’s great news, especially considering that she is probably the most high fashion looking girl who has ever appeared on the show. She deserves the leap to number three!
#2 – Danielle, Cycle 6 (Winner): I have to wonder if readers are going to think I’m completely insane for putting Danielle at number two, or completely and utterly agree with me that she belongs there. There are a few reasons that I ranked Danielle so high on my countdown. The first is the most obvious – she won her cycle and had a great portfolio! However, there is so much more to Danielle other than her portfolio.
Another girl who didn’t have the easiest upbringing, Danielle persevered and grew up very level-headed. She showed her ability to change when Tyra asked her to have the gap in her two front teeth fixed, when she did have it closed a little, but chose to leave some of it because it was a part of who she was. Also, just like several other girls who we have talked about on the countdown, Danielle suffered an illness halfway through the competition, but left the hospital early in order to compete. Her heart was in the competition 100% and Danielle never settled for less. She did what she had to do, but always remained true to herself. Never once did we see something nasty from Danielle, or a flash of someone we didn’t know. I think that’s what lifted Danielle to number two – her ability to remain the same throughout the competition and come out on top!
#1 – Mercedes, Cycle 2: Ahh, MY Mercedes. Just like last time, the top spot on my count down belongs to the lovely Mercedes from Cycle 2. What didn’t she have? Mercedes had the look, the poise, the personality, and the drive. She often talked about how she always dreamed to be a model, and couldn’t believe that she was in the house. She had perseverance, as we saw her reveal to the other girls and the judges that she was diagnosed with lupus, yet never did we see her complain about this or try to use it as an excuse.
Mercedes always had a smile on her face, and the judges admitted several times that people would relate to her better than Yoanna, and she would be a great role model and public speaker. Oh, and don’t think this is based solely on her personality – Mercedes could model too! Although the judges felt that she was a perfect commercial model, it was her last photo of the season that shot her into high fashion. Mercedes proved that she could tackle any aspect of the fashion industry, her personality and happiness was contagious, and she proved that sometimes no matter how bad things look, there’s always a brighter side. She might have come in second place during Cycle two, but she came in first on this list and to me!
So there you have it – my new list of Top Models of all time! Do you agree with the girls I chose? Think I left anyone out? As always, I’d love to hear the reader’s opinion and see who you feel should be on the list or who you think made it and didn’t deserve to. Shoot your comments my way, and you never know, maybe your favorite will make it on the next list!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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