America's Next Top Model - Phil's Top Twelve Top Modelsby Phil Kural -- 05/30/2005
Adrianne, Yoanna, Eva and Naima -- all four of these beautiful women captured the title of America's Next Top Model. Yes, they all deserved to win. However, that's not saying that some of the other girls didn't deserve to win in their own way too. I'm here to take a look at my list for the top 12 girls from the show's history. Now, let me be the first to admit that this was a very hard thing to do. Only being able to choose 12 out of almost 50 girls was a pretty tough task, but I think I did all right. I didn't just base my decision on photos, either. It was a collection of photos, how I felt they did in challenges, not to mention how relatable they were, and what their personality was like. In ascending order, this is how my list goes:
12. Amanda, Season 3 -- Legally blind or not, Amanda knew how to work that camera. Traditionally, the woman marked as "the mom" would be someone that is going home early. Amanda defied those odds and stuck around all the way to the final three. Personally, I still think she took better shots than Eva, but didn't have the personality that Eva had. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think Amanda had a personality, but in a way, and I'm not sure how to put this, I think she was a little too mature for this show. I'm surprised we haven't seen much of Amanda since the show has ended. She had amazing features and her eyes were perfect, looking almost like ice. She's definitely an all time favorite of mine.
11. Jenascia, Season 2 -- Oh, who could ever forget Jenascia? I think on my list, she is probably the girl that was eliminated the earliest, but she left a lasting impression in my mind. The judges complained that she was too short, but then I pose the question: If she is too short, you had to have noticed that ahead of time, so why did you pick her as a finalist? Indeed, Jenascia was a little shorter compared to the other girls, but her photos were pretty good, and she was funny as hell. For the first part of season two, it's almost as if Jenascia had a part in narrating the episodes since they always showed her in the confessional making a comment. She added that kick of personality that was needed for season two, even though there were a ton of characters that season, and I'm glad to see someone that was eliminated rather early actually make my list. I wonder if she's still working at Hooters. If she is, point me in that direction!
10. Brittany, Season 4 -- Brittany was just personality by the bowlful! I pegged her as a girl to go far, but when she started being all kinds of crazy at the beginning of the season, I was starting to think she would go pretty quickly. Not so -- she figured out how to tone down the sexuality and produce some amazing photos, like the one over on the side there. Brittany was real, honest, and was herself -- she didn't play it fake like some girls did in prior seasons. I'm looking at you, Robin and Camille. Brittany was a party girl. She stated that, and then lived it. I'm glad she hung around for as long as she did. I still don't think I understand how Keenyah made it to the final three and Brittany didn't, but that's just something I have to live with. Someone better pick up Brittany for a TV show, since I already miss her crazy demeanor.
9. April, Season 2 -- I don't care what anyone says -- April is probably one of the best "posers" in the history of this show. The judges said she was too technical for their taste, but I think that's just April, and she demands perfection. There is nothing wrong with that. Shandi was a great addition to season two, but in my opinion, lacked the poise and focus that April had. I still think she should have been in the top three. I think the problem with April was that the judges didn't get enough personality from her. It was more like she was there to win a competition, more than she was there to be a model. I donít think that's the case, and I think April's passion was more intense than the other girls, and the judges took that the wrong way. I still think she's better than Shandi and Yoanna!
8. Yaya, Season 3 -- I'll never forget MY Yaya. From the second I saw her profile picture I knew that she was going to be a favorite. Her smile was so inviting, and her intelligence could be seen from miles away. Yaya was the second "dancer" to make the show, and the judges griped that she could not break from that mold. She finally did, and landed in the final two for her season. I think Yaya had the determination to win, and I also think she had the focus, but what I think the judges didn't like about her was the way she held herself together, which, like April, could seem a little cold. I don't think that was the case though, and Yaya was very astute and always came across as just trying to be as professional as possible. She had a personality, and knew when to show it. I was crying when she lost, but I think MY Yaya did a great job to get to the final two, and I'd let her portfolio do the talking for her.
7. Elyse, Season 1 -- Oh, Elyse, I love her to death! Nobody had ever spoken so candidly on this show the way she has. If Elyse had something to say, she said it. Coupled with her gal-pal, Adrianne, Elyse managed to make it all the way to the final three by showing that she was ready to take on the task of whatever the judges were going to throw at her. Criticized by Robin because she didn't follow any religion, Elyse just made that push her even harder. In my opinion, she should have been in the final two. Shannon was just too "all around" for my taste, and Elyse would have added that edge that the first season lacked. She's still doing modeling, so that has to say something about her. It might have seemed like modeling wasn't her goal in the beginning, but Elyse pulled it together, came into her own, and was one hell of a finalist.
6. Naima, Season 4 -- Our most recent winner, Naima, places sixth on my list. It's no secret that I was a huge fan of Naima, even before the show started! Being quiet and reserved is Naima's thing, and it worked for her. She knew how to conduct herself, and the judges used their famous line "We want to know Naima." You do know her, you twits. You picked her! I don't understand Tyra and the gang, sometimes. However, that being said, Naima pulled it together week after week and impressed the judges with her shots. Kahlen did the same thing, but I think it was Naima who captured the hearts of America. For crying out loud, she was the Cover Girl of the week for every week the show aired so that has to say something. Naima deserved her win, and I wouldn't have wanted anyone's face on that screen but hers when the winner was revealed. That being said, I know some probably think she should be higher on the list, but there are five girls that Naima just couldn't overcome overall.
5. Eva, Season 3 -- Our season three winner places fifth on my list of the top twelve top models. I know it's a little confusing to think that Eva was able to surpass MY Yaya, but it's true. I think I got to like Eva more and more as time progressed. Now, when I see her on the Cover Girl commercials, I actually like her a lot. I think it was the whole "Diva" attitude she had at the beginning of her season. It was a little too much for me to handle, and the way she and Anne constantly put people down was a bit rough. However, Eva learned from her mistakes and really grew as a person, which I totally admired. In my heart, I wanted Yaya to win, but I look back now and I'm not disappointed at all. Eva was great, and deserved the win. Another one that constantly won the Cover Girl of the week. Hmm, maybe that's saying the viewers know how to pick a winner!
4. Adrianne, Season 1 -- Easily my favorite of all the girls that won the show, Adrianne was spunky, real, beautiful, and funny. How could you not love her? Together, with Elyse, they made the first season of America's Next Top Model, and in my opinion, are part of the reason why it's such a big hit! Adrianne worked the camera and showed that determination will bring results. She was fun to watch, and although she didn't receive as great a prize as the girls that win today receive, she has managed to make a career for herself, and was even able to land a spot on VH1's The Surreal Life, which one of the judges, Janice Dickinson, will be appearing on next season. I would have had Adrianne probably at number two or three on my list, but there were a few girls that I had to place up there!
3. Toccara, Season 3 -- Toccara has staying power. I have to admit that I would get a little pissed off when Tyra would cast the "plus sized" girls, and you knew there was no chance in hell that they would win. It just wasn't going to happen. However, Toccara was fierce, and honestly could have won the competition, if it wasn't geared more towards thinner girls. She had the personality, the photos and the drive to win. In fact, Toccara even managed to win the RNO Award this year for sexiest female! That's saying something! Toccara always had something funny to say or add to a conversation, and was perfectly comfortable with her body and who she was, which is quite different than some of the other girls we have seen on prior seasons. The judges eliminated Toccara, saying that she lost the drive to win that she possessed when the competition first started. I wouldn't go that far, but she was clearly broken down by the way the judges constantly critiqued her size, yet picked her for that reason. Toccara was robbed!
2. Tiffany, Season 4 -- Ugh, I ADORE Tiffany! When season three premiered, we were first introduced to an angry, rowdy girl from Miami. She managed to get in a bar fight, get beer poured on her weave, and become the first girl to pronounce she was "Going back to hustling" when she didn't make the cut. However, in season four, a more relaxed, calm, funny and charming Tiffany made her debut, and managed to get almost halfway in the competition, before she was eliminated due to a double elimination. I don't care what anyone says, Tiffany will always be a favorite of mine. She took great photographs and was probably one of the most well liked contestants ever on the show. She was the "people's champion." Everyone was rooting for her, and it was sad to see her go. I know she's going to be a success, and I can't wait to see her in the future!
1. Mercedes, Season 2 -- MY Mercedes. Who else could be at the top of the list? Mercedes had an exotic beauty about her that photographers love. She always took great photos, week after week. Also, she battled lupus when she was on the show, and didn't let the stress drag her down the way most would. Mercedes came in second during her season, but she was first to me. The judges feared that she was a little too commercial for them to market, but Mercedes turned it out during her final photo shoot and showed them the edge they were craving from her. Coming in second is not a bad thing on this show. Several of the girls have showed that second is just as good as first. Elyse came in third, and she's still around. Yaya came in second, and she has a modeling contract. The same thing goes for Mercedes. She might not have won, but her presence was known. I think she embodied everything that top model should. Mercedes was personable, fierce, fun and took amazing photos. She was the full package, and for that, she's on top of the Top Twelve Top Models.
Of course, I could only pick twelve girls, so there are several girls that I wanted to put on the list but just didn't have the room. Keese, Ebony, Shandi, Jennipher, Kahlen and even Camille would have been great candidates for the list, but alas, there wasn't the space. I donít even have Yoanna on here, and even though she was a great winner, I just donít place her in MY top twelve. I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me on this list, but I always welcome comments as to who you think should have made it. What would be your list of the Top Twelve Top Models?
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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