Back when “America’s Next Top Model” debuted on UPN (yes, UPN…THROWBACK!), it was something fresh and fun for those just getting into the whole reality TV thing. The year was 2003. Almost 10 years later and the show has become a tad bit stale, so much so that they had to fire three fan favorite cast members recently to keep the fire going. But when it was hot, it was very entertaining. My only real issue with the show would be the fact that even the winners of the show (with the exception of Eva Pigford) would pretty much fall into obscurity when they were supposed to turning into the “Top” of the top models. What’s that about!? Either way, we found out what a few of them were doing and thought we’d share. And yes, we’ve done something like this before last year, but we’ve got some different faces off of the milk carton. And as always, be ready to click-ity click.
Sadly, it might be easy to forget Naima Mora. Though she was the winner of Cycle 4, the model, who is African American, Irish, Native American and Mexican, was pretty quiet and the perfect example of an introvert. Don’t let that mohawk fool you. But that didn’t keep her from being a fan favorite (winning fan voted “CoverGirl of the week” EVERY week) and impressing the judges to take the fancy CoverGirl contract, contract with Ford Models and spread in Elle. Since then, Mora did some TV work (“Veronica Mars”), she’s done her share of print work in big name magazines (US Weekly, IN Touch, and Teen People among many others), and done some independent film work. But for a few years now, Mora has taken a break from all the posing and giving good face to show off her vocal talents as the lead singer for the bands, Chewing Pics (which disbanded in 2009) and Galaxy of Tar. I don’t know if those names would intrigue me enough to go to listen to their music, but do your thing boo!
Harlem’s own Bre Scullark was a Cycle 5 standout thanks to her awesome skills and a personality that you either loved, or would let rub you the wrong way. Baby girl wasn’t apologetic about it and instead, often chose to fight fire with fire (remember when she threw away all of ‘ol girl’s energy drinks and the girl didn’t even do anything to her? Shady…). In the end, she made it to the final three, but was kicked off soon after she and the last two contestants made it to London for their final showdown. She is currently signed to Ford Models and through them, has showed off her fierce walk for folks like Valentino, BET’s “Rip the Runway” and Nicole Miller. She’s also done her fair share of ads and commercials (I KNOW you peeped her out in that Ambi ad!), including Garnier, Old Navy and more. She also does her video girl thing from time to time, showing up in clips for Ruben Studdard, and most recently, as Wale’s boo in the “Lotus Flower Blomb” video. Oh yeah, she ditched her big hair by chopping it off for a great cause and a happier Bre. Loves it!
Hands down, Yaya was probably in my top three favorite “Top Model” contestants ever. Another Harlem-born chick, DaCosta was extremely smart and highly opinionated about everything. I loved her big hair and the fact that she and Eva Pigford were killing and made it to the final two spots in Cycle 3. I would have loved to see DaCosta be the champ of that season, but alas, Pigford was still an awesome choice. Since then, you probably know she’s been doing more acting than modeling, and has showed up on everything from “All My Children” to the movie Tron: Legacy, as well as The Kids are All Right and in the music video “Good Man” by Raphael Saadiq. Because of all this shine, it has actually resulted in more mainstream magazine covers and press for DaCosta, including popping up in Vogue, L’Officiel and W. WORK!
Excuse me, but how could anyone forget Mercedes from Cycle 2? She was most known for still finding a way to shut down the competition while battling the ups and downs of lupus, but she was also known for her beautiful and bubbly personality. She didn’t win, but the beauty from Jersey sure the hell should have. Instead, Yoanna House took the crown and hasn’t really done too much modeling since then. But don’t worry about Mercedes, she’s been eating well since then. She became a spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation of America, was in commercials for folks like Chevy and Target and hit the catwalk for DSquared, Rock & Republic and more. She even had guest TV roles on shows like “One on One,” “All of Us,” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” She’s now signed to Elite Model Management in LA and goes by the name Mercedes Yvette. Don’t you forget it *Does two snaps*
Everyone’s favorite narcissistic chick, McDonald let all the haters know she had a walk that was going to take her to the top, whether you liked it or not. A much talked about face from Cycle 2, same as Mercedes, McDonald didn’t make it as far as she had planned, even though she was giving us fierce 24/7, but after the fact, she went on to design a line of swimsuits, start her own company, Signature Walk, Inc. (to help you become as fabulous of a walker in the modeling world as her), she has a cookbook and wants to push her own line of shoes. She was such a memorable personality (in a good or bad way is up to you) that Tyra and Co. asked her back for their All-Star Season last year. No dice with that go-round either. But don’t cry for her Argentina, she’s making it. She’s shot for W, Glamour, Women’s Wear Daily and obtained more education in the process, including a Bachelor of Arts in advertising, and a minor in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. You can catch up with her more via her website.
Another memorable contestant, Siad is the Somali-Ethiopian fashion model who’d gone through the fire as a child (she underwent female genital circumcision and two of her sisters were killed in Somalia before she fled for the U.S. with her mother). But on the show, Cycle 10 to be exact, she impressed judges (though she was known for being hard headed and not good with directions) and wound up in third place, falling behind Russian model Anya, and the first plus-size winner, Whitney Thompson. However, out of all three women, Siad has had the most success it seems. Siad has been in spreads for Essence, Ebony, Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, Marie Claire and more. She’s also walked for Betsey Johnson, has a big campaign as the face of Herve Leger, and most recently walked for Hermes, Andrew Gn and Dries Van Noten during New York Fashion week. Talk about killing the game. Homegirl definitely didn’t need to win “Top Model” to get that big contract or spread in Elle we see…By the way, she still discusses the issue of genital circumcision and hopes that being vocal about it can save other young women from the horrors of the controversial procedure.
If this Puerto Rican model from Cycle 8 taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. Homegirl got the boot when she tried out for Cycle 7 in its early stages, but would you believe that she ended up winning in Cycle 8? The Chi-Town diva wound up doing a lot of print work, including giving good face for US Weekly, Seventeen, Vibe Vixen and more. She’s walked for the likes of Custo Barcelona and Armani Exchange, is still a spokesperson for CoverGirl and was in Ryan Leslie’s video for “Addiction.” A past victim of domestic violence, Gonzalez has used her notoriety to help spread awareness about teen dating violence with Liz Claiborne and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She also hosts some programs and events for the Spanish channel, “Yeah!”
The winner of Cycle 9, Stowers caught the side-eye from many angry bloggers after they speculated that her past affiliation with Tyra Banks (being at her T-Zone Camp, appearing on “The Tyra Banks Show” and making an appearance on Cycle 6) may have helped her win, which wouldn’t be fair. But pish posh to the haters, Stowers was a beast in front of the camera and deserved to win and go far. She has modeled for Modern Bride, appeared in campaigns for Baby Phat, Apple Bottoms, and Dereon, modeled for the Gilte Group and Macy’s, done work for Especially Yours Wigs, appeared on an episode of “Ugly Betty” and was in Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy” video. It’s not walking for Betsey Johnson or having an ad campaign with Herve Leger, but she’s still doing it big!
I don’t care what anybody says, this chick was a trip to me (in a good way of course). Though she was born to a South Korean mother and a Japanese-American father, her years in Harlem must have given Sakai a little extra edge because she stepped on the show with a sista-girl attitude and had folks calling her the second coming of Kimora. Uh…she wasn’t though. She didn’t win her cycle (she finished sixth), probably because she was going for the more risque, “You-know-you-want-to-see-my-crotch” type of photos that judges had to keep telling her about. But her fun personality must have impressed Tyra somewhat because she brought her back for last year’s All-Star show. The former go-go dancer is doing it big now, still doing print and commercial work, trying to put out more music (she’s dropped an album in the past) and can be followed through her website.
The very beautiful Nik Pace was a force to be reckoned with during her time on Cycle 5. A quiet force, but still one not to be underestimated. After a long fight, she was runner up in the competition to Nicole Linkletter. *Hisses* But after the show, Pace went on to show up in VIBE, Essence, US Weekly and Complex, and done modeling work for L’Oreal and more. Sadly, a lot of her modeling efforts were overshadowed by the fact that she had a son with NFL player Braylon Edwards, and for a good minute there, she had to go toe-to-toe with him for child support. No worries though, they’re all good now! She is now signed with Ford Models and still looks fabulous. Her most recent video work was showing folks how to walk that walk during the BET “Rip the Runway” show. Check it out!
As pretty as Danielle, now Dani, was, she couldn’t get past that extremely strong Little Rock accent that judges felt would hold her back in the modeling world and as a CoverGirl spokesmodel. But they didn’t let it hold her back too much, because with the help of a speech coach and an amazing portfolio, Evans ended up taking the “Top Model” title in Cycle 6. I loved her fun and funky personality, and knew it would take her pretty far, and it has! Evans is one of the few models from the show to have her CoverGirl contract renewed for the company, and aside from that, she’s appeared in more magazines and ads than you can count on both hands. That includes doing work for Sephora, appearing in US Weekly, Essence, The New York Post, Kouture Magazine and more. She is currently with Click Model Management, and most recently walked for TRIAS, Farah Angsana, Mara Hoffman, Michael Knight and Zang Toi during New York Fashion Week last fall.
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