April Wilkner eliminated from 'America's Next Top Model' as competition narrows to three
By Reality TV World staff, 03/18/2004
Rhode Island native and current Miami Beach resident April Wilkner became the ninth participant eliminated from the competition in Tuesday’s installment of the second edition of UPN’s America's Next Top Model "dramality" series.
In the second to the last episode of the series, the girls were challenged by Italian-based designer Stephen Fairchild to discover Italian sensuality within themselves through fashion. The girls were also paired up to complete a nude photo shoot, and finally Shandi had an emotional breakdown after a romantic escapade with a local Italian man.
The second installment of America's Next Top Model follows 12 young women for ten weeks as they attempt to prove they have what it takes to make it in the high-stress, high-stakes world of modeling. Tyra Banks leads the panel of judges who narrow the field week to week. Jioning Tyra this episode were Janice Dickinson, the self-described "world’s first supermodel," Jane magazine fashion editor Eric Nicholson, renowned photographer Nigel Barker, and special guest judge Stephen Fairchild.
The episode began with Stephen Fairchild having the girls look through his showroom and pick the fashions which best suited them. As Wilkner removed a white raincoat revealing a sexy pantsuit, Fairchild said, “I think the raincoat was completely wrong. I think you have great shoulders. I do think you have very, very nice legs and I don’t think you’re showing your legs.”
The next challenge the girls were given was a nude photo shoot, in which they were paired up with a fellow participant. Wilkner was eager to complete the shoot, and said, “I think it’s awesome! I’d rather pose nude than with clothes on.” Wilkner’s photo partner, Mercedes, was not as enthusiastic, and Wilkner felt she had to speak up and help coach Mercedes through the photos. Unfortunately, Wilkner’s assertiveness was construed as bossiness by art director Jay Manuel, who said, “April over-directed each photograph... April was almost trying to take over my job.”
During the judging session when the girls were asked to transform a regular t-shirt into a sexy outfit, April turned her oversized shirt into a fashionable mini-dress. April took Stephen Fairchild’s past criticisms into consideration and said, “I wanted to listed to Stephen and show off my legs.” The judges, however, felt like April overdid it by revealing too much skin. Janice Dickinson said, “I think it’s the perfect look for a nightclub,” and Eric Nicholson added, “There’s just too much skin showing.”
Banks then relayed Jay Manuel’s concerns about her behavior on the shoot by saying, “Jay also thought that you tried to control the shoot and that you over-directed it.” And although Wilkner claimed that she was just trying to help, she was immediately chastised by Janice Dickinson who told her, “Sometimes its really, really important not to overstep your boundaries with the photographer because they don’t like it.”
During deliberations, Nicholson compared Wilkner’s photo to “an advertisement for mummies because there’s no life in her.” Stephen Fairchild immediately pinpointed criticism that Wilkner had been receiving throughout this cycle from the show’s regular judges and said, “She thinks too much. She’s trying to depict a model - how she’s seen it in a movie or something.” And although Nigel Barker tried to voice his support by saying, “I think April over the past few weeks has gone from strength to strength,” he was in the minority.
Upon dismissing her, Banks told Wilkner, “In your pictures we feel like you pose better than all the girls here, but modeling isn’t about being mechanical, it’s about emotionally connecting with the camera.” And unfortunately for Wilkner, the judges felt that she never quite connected on an emotional level. Upon her elimination, Wilkner was completely unprepared for her time to be up but still showed determination when said, “It hurts. I don’t understand. I always win everything. I’m not prepared. I’m not mentally prepared for this, I’m really shocked. Every moment that I spend here, not in front of that camera, all I was doing was waiting to get back in front of the camera. But I can’t go back to doing what I was doing – it was killing me. I’m going to be a top model anyway because it’s my calling. And I’ll do whatever it takes.”
The winner of UPN’s America's Next Top Model will have the opportunity to be managed by IMG Models and join the ranks of the company’s other top models, including Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum.
She will also have an opportunity to appear on the cover of a Sephora catalogue and in more than 80 stores in the U.S., providing her fame through one of the nation’s leading cosmetics retailers. Finally, the winner’s first guaranteed fashion spread will appear in Jane magazine.