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America’s Next Top Model: ‘Alex Wek’

March 3, 2011

Who will get an IMG model management contract?  WHO, Tyra Banks barks, will be America’s Next Top Model?   Across the TV screen flash the shiny black and yellow block letters reading “ELEVATED / TOP DESIGNERS / TOP MAGAZINE / TOP MODEL.”  Now that it’s the second episode, the girls names and pictures roll during the intro.  I’m still getting to know all the girls’ names as I’m sure you are.  There’s Angelique, Brittani the girl from humble roots, pretty, Nicole?  Monique?  Molly?  Sara the alt girl I do remember.  Hannah, Alexandra…lots of girls to know.

Here we are soaring over the city of Los Angeles.  It’s nighttime.  The girls enter their penthouse suite, which features high ceilings, black and white printed fabric across one of the white walls, and a confessional room with fake tree branches and cheetah-print decor.  Blonde girl Molly got the best-photo distinction last week.  One girl, 20-year-old Nicole, reflects on how she photographs old.  Ondrei, 18, reflects on how two of her brothers died and how she has to do something with her life.  Ondrei looks pretty with big sunglasses on her head, a khaki jacket and feminine makeup.

Tyra enters wearing bright yellow apron and chef’s hat and Heather Bauer, her nutritionist, wears a similar, less over-the-top white outfit.  The girls learn that “Cheaties” are “things that seem bad but are not.”  How interesting–some model cheating eating tips!  The nutritionist recommends red meatball spaghetti over eggplant; peanut butter on a bagel over a cream cheese bagel (of course!).  Tyra looks really svelte, with bronzed cheeks, strait short hair and bangs–not to mention black stiletto pumps.

There seems to be some kind of conflict based on gross food in the refrigerator.  There is a confrontation about raw chicken that belongs to Alexandria, who becomes defensive of her food-wrapping habits.  It’s kind of a black girl (Dalya)-white girl conflict, which seems to happen on this show.  Alexandria really hates Dalya now and it is a little creepy…maybe Alexandria is insecure and obsessive.

“Tomorrow you will face your worst critic,” reads the Tyra Mail.  Finally some action!  The Colony Theater in Burbank is where Nigel Barker explains the importance of performing, emoting, and–importantly–inspiring.  Eugene Buica, director of The Acting Corps, pep talks to the girls about not listening to their inner conflict.  Nicole (the one who photographs old) feels nervous, sexy brunette Monique feels confident.  Molly talks about how she was adopted and this affects her confidence.

This whole segment resembles a psychological journey.  The girls draw pictures and confront the acting coach in some kind of role-play exercise.  It’s a good way to draw out the emotions.  Poor baby-faced girl Jaclyn is tragically hilarious–she’s crying about looking and sounding too much like a baby!  The irony!  All the girls cry when Ondrei confronts her brothers’ deaths: “It’s not fair;” they should have been here for this important moment of her life.  “It’s your humanity that makes you beautiful,” says Nigel in a soft, kind voice.  J. Estina earrings are given to the girls for putting themselves out there (lucky!).

I feel like the focus on Ondrei might imply that she is going home this week.  They usually focus a lot of camera time on the girls who end up in the bottom two.

At Smashbox Studios, Mr. Jay, wearing a skintight graphic top, says that the girls will wear jewelry containing pheromones (pheromones?  sounds like a psych experiment) that attract BEES.  Mike Rosenthal is the photographer.  The girls work it for the camera in tube tops, ponytails, and brown fuzzy bees crawling over their necks.  Wow–this seems extreme!  Nicole seems to be struggling.  Mikaela looks exotic and interesting, like a jungle princess.  Hannah has trouble showing emotion but cries; this actually seems to help her modeling.  Dark-haired girl Monique says Hannah irritates her.  The jewelry is dramatic–some of the girls wear large bulky necklaces, others wear crown-like jewelry draped over their heads.  Ondrei doesn’t seem to be getting how to model.

Judging Panel and Elimination

Ondrei is freaking out about her performance.  Monique continues to act like a Mean Girl (my mother pipes in that Monique is very beautiful).  The models and judges are in their judging room of shiny blue drapery with long white lights falling like beads behind the judges.  There are the spotlit circles on a platform where the girls stand.

Shockingly, Ondrei explains in very respectful manner that she needs to go home for personal reasons.  Kasia, the plus-sized model, steps up in a cute short black dress.  The judges love her sophisticated photo.  Mikaela looks fantastic in person and has taken a really cool photo that showcases her beautiful face and bone structure.  Freckly girl Dominique takes a good photo.  Brittany takes an “interesting,” “strong” photo.  Jaclyn takes a nice profile picture with her hands holding her head up.  Dalya takes a cute closed-eye photo…I think she had some trouble with taking pictures with her eyes open (weird).  Nicole fails to take a young look photo again.  Hannah’s photo with tears garners a lot of advice from the judges.  Monique gets called ‘fabulous’ by Andre!  Go girl!  Tyra compares Monique to a famous model named Shalom.

Tyra says that if anyone did worse than Ondrei, then the worst girl who is not Ondrei will be eliminated.  The judges are moved by some of the girls’ photos, such as Kasia’s, and less impressed by other models, like Dalya.  Some girls need to work harder.  The judges really like crying girl Hannah.  Ondrei’s picture is somewhat beautiful but conveys fear.  Hannah, then Brittani, then Monique, then Mikaela, are called.  Then Kasia, Dominique, and Sara–the middle of the pack–are called.  Then Alexandia, Jaclyn, and Molly are called.  Nicole and Dalya, the bottom two, look scared to leave, and Tyra explains that Nicole had the worst photo of the week.

I thought it was an intriguing episode.  I think the girls are very varied in their looks and look like real models.  Did you enjoy this episode??


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