Cassandra Watson the third girl sent home from 'Top Model 8'
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/15/2007
The 11 remaining runway wannabes competing on the eighth season of The CW's America's Next Top Model each received a makeover and participated in a nude photo shoot during the third episode of the reality competition series. And when it was over, Cassandra Watson, a 24-year-old college student from Seattle, WA, was the third girl eliminated.
"I'm disappointed because I know I have potential to be a Top Model," said Cassandra. "I feel sad to have left so early in the competition. But I need more mirror time, and I need to practice more. I wish I would have given more confidence and more fierceness to the camera, but I'm still appreciative with what I did get, because many girls don't even get this."
The episode began with the eighth season's two plus sized models -- Whitney Cunningham, a 21-year-old college student from West Palm Beach, FL, and Diana Zalewski, a 21-year-old college student from Garfield, NJ -- discussing their place in the competition.
"I don't want to be the fat girl," said Whitney. Added Diana, "I don't want to be the fat girl either. Being a plus-sized model in this particular competition is difficult. But I also have Whitney to talk to. Not only are we both plus-sized models, but we both click."
Jaslene Gonzalez, a 20-year-old online college admissions advisor from Chicago, IL, spoke with Cassandra about how she misses her family. "Cassandra really makes me find my inner peace. She just knows what to say and when to say it," said Jaslene. Commented Cassandra, "I'm just blessed and I love people. And I know it's a competition but I can still compete and be who I am... be nice to people."
The girls then received some Tyra Mail, and despite the tricky language contained within, they all realized it was time for their makeovers. At 6:30AM the next morning, they were met by hair stylist Neeko, runway expert J. Alexander and Top Model's creative director of photo shoots Jay Manuel to begin the makeover process. Surprisingly, Top Model judge and creator Tyra Banks also met the girls wearing rollers and pajamas.
"I said we're not even doing [makeovers] this season because every season the girls are always crying, 'I don't want people to see me with my hair weave tracks out! I don't want to cut my hair!'" said Tyra. But when the girls enthusiastically replied they were ready for their makeovers, Tyra told them what would be happening.
Jael Strauss, a 22-year-old band manager from Detroit, MI, learned her hair would be longer and she'd be trading blond for brunette. Prior to the makeover, Cassandra had a wig sewn on-top of her head, something Tyra had "never heard of before in her life." The wig was coming off in-place of an afro. Renee DeWitt, a 20-year-old stay-at-home-mom from Maui, HI, was told her hair would be cut short "Yoanna style" from Top Model 2. Whitney learned she'd be losing her weave in favor of curly hair. Diana went from brunette to blond and received a couple of weaves to make her hair thicker and longer. Felicia Provost, a 19-year-old sales associate from Houston, TX, got some big bangs. Dionne Walters, a 20-year-old college student from Montgomery, AL, went short and heavy in the front. Sarah Vanderhaar, a 20-year-old photographer from Lake Zurich, IL, got some dirty color because Tyra thought her hair was flat. Jaslene's hair got thick and flowing. Brittany Hatch, a 21-year-old bartender from Savannah, GA, got some long, wavy red hair. Finally, Natasha Galkina, a 21-year-old college student from Dallas, TX, went from blond to chocolate brown.
Following each of their makeovers, the girls participated in a photo shoot to sport their new looks. Everybody's shoot went-off without a hitch, except for Jael, who didn't want her hair to "be normal," and was assured it wouldn't be. Scheduled to shoot last, Jael spent eight hours receiving her makeover. "It hurts like hell," said Jael. Some of the other girls sympathized.
"I felt sorry for Jael to see her have to get those braids because I know that hurt like crazy," said Cassandra. Towards the end of the eight hours, Manuel told Jael he just had a conversation with Tyra, and the two agreed the makeover wasn't working. "It's not taking you to the elevated look that the other girls are going to," explained Manuel. "I would hate for it to hurt your chances in the competition. We're going to take the whole thing out." Not surprisingly, that didn't sit too well with Jael.
"As my hair's being cut off, I just feel kind of traumatized," said Jael. Added Sarah, "I feel so bad for her. She's upset because she just sat there for eight hours. That must have ben so hard having to sit there through the pain and then it not even be worth anything." Manuel came over and told Jael she had to "own" her new style, which was short and red.
"I'm going to own this. I do like my hair, I just have to get used to it," she said. Back at the house, the girls received some more Tyra Mail that informed them they'd be participating in a challenge involving make-up. Brittany complained about her hair hurting, and Diana said she was "so sick of" listening to Brittany moan. Whitney also noticed Brittany cries "over everything."
"Sometimes I just want to smack her... I'll give her something to cry about," said Whitney, who eventually approached Brittany and asked why she's always shedding tears. "When I hear a girl boohooing she's crying because her boyfriend just got shot... people don't cry over every little thing. People cry about major stuff that's happening in their life."
As if on cue, Jael received a call from a friend at home who told her that one of her close friends had passed away due to an overdose. "This is the worse thing I could possibly hear in the entire universe," said a visibly upset Jael through tears. "I don't understand this... this doesn't make any sense. I'd rather not be dealing with this situation with what's going on in my life, but I think modeling is a good distraction for me right now."
The girls arrived at a garden for the challenge, and Brittany said she "feels really ill" and had "some digestive issues." Considering not participating, Jael and Sarah encouraged her to stick with it. The girls were met by CoverGirl make-up artist Roxanna Floyd and Seventeen magazine entertainment director Carissa Rosenberg. After putting on some spring dresses, the girls learned they'd have 10 minutes to go to five tables -- with each containing either foundation, eye, cheek, lip or nail cosmetics. The girls had to create a "clean, colorful look," and the winner of the challenge and two friends would get a spread in Seventeen.
It was frantic as the girls all tried to put on make-up and fight for space in-front of a mirror. "I still felt extremely sick," said Brittany. "But I tried not to let that show." As time winded down, Cassandra decided she needed "a little more eye shadow." That decision cost her, as she wasn't ready when time expired and was disqualified from the challenge. "I'm very upset because I know I did a good job with my make-up and know I had a chance of winning," opined Cassandra. Roxanna and Carissa chose Brittany as the winner, and for their encouragement prior to the challenge, she took Jael and Sarah to be in the shoot with her.
"I was so excited to do something that's fun to distract me," said Jael, who also flattered the challenge's winner. "Brittany takes the most amazing photos that I've ever seen be taken." Meanwhile Renee just didn't get it. "Brittany doesn't stand-out to me... she's boring, and I don't understand why she keeps winning these challenges. If she wants to win all the little battles and I'll win the big war, that'll be fine."
Tyra Mail was awaiting the girls at the house, but before they were off to their photo shoot, some drama unfolded. Renee and Diana talked outside about Brittany, with Renee calling her "fake." Brittany overheard and approached Renee and Diana. "The walls in a house full of women are paper thin... that's all I gotta say," said Brittany.
Renee fired back, "I've been nothing but nice to you, nothing but genuine to you. It's not like it's uncommon to have girls talk about girls. And to make people feel bad about gossiping or having conversations, for me is just so pious. She needs to come down off her pedestal." Renee concluded by telling Brittany she acts like she's "in high school," while Brittany reminded Renee she's "kicking her ass in this competition."
Jael continued to have a hard time dealing with the passing of her friend, and Sarah tried to help her. "She needs to really let [those emotions] out," she said. Renee and Diana continued to bad mouth Brittany, with Renee promising to "knock her on her ass one of these times."
Manuel told the girls they'd be "treats" in a photo shoot centered around ice cream. "You're hair, make-up and wardrobe is going to be candy," explained Manuel. "Which means you're going to be nude." Brittany immediately looked unhappy.
"I'm unhappy because I know when I get home my parents are going to be really angry I took off my clothes and I'm going to have to deal with that," said Brittany. Commented Dionne, "Brittany was not so comfortable with being nude...pouting around... like a little kid! I mean Brittany get over it!" The photographer for the shoot was Joseph Cultice. Cassandra was the first to be filmed, and her theme was "jelly beans."
"Cassandra needs to start practicing in the make-up room," said Manuel. "She just came-out looking stiff." Brittany continued to complain -- first about having to hold ice cream in her hand and then about being cold -- but still stepped in-front of the camera with the theme of "banana splits."
"That's like something you would see in Vogue," said Renee. "Brittany was just excuse after excuse after excuse. But then she really rocked her photo shoot. I just wish she would shut up." Diana had problems with the shoot, and Manuel thought it was because she was "insecure about what to do with her body." He suggested some additional "mirror time."
"I'm not the size of Jaslene, who has barely any fat on her body," said Diana. "So basically I'm not that comfortable with nudity." Once the shoot was finished, the girls learned they'd be facing elimination the next day.
"I may be the next one going home because I was late for the make-up challenge," foreshadowed Cassandra. Judges for the elimination were Banks, photographer Nigel Barker, Alexander, Neeko and British supermodel Twiggy. Jael was the first to face the judges, and Twiggy commented, "What's the matter? We told you that you look wonderful?" Jael explained why she was so upset.
"Of course you're having a hard time," said Tyra. "This is the one time when it's okay to not be a model... it's okay to just be real and be a human being."
While not all of the reviews were glowing, the judges appeared the least impressed by Diana and Cassandra. The judges were in silence when they saw Cassandra's photo, and Tyra said she "continues to lose her pretty" and added she wasn't fierce enough. They also thought Diana looked "uncomfortable" despite her beautiful face. When Tyra asked why she seemed so "introverted," Diana said she didn't know, so Tyra advised some "self-reflection."
Once the first nine girls were safe, it came down to Diana and Cassandra. Tyra described Diana as "such a beautiful girl" and thought she "should be standing out so strongly," but the judges noticed she's "fading into the background." She told Cassandra she has a "beautiful personality," but added it's not translating to the shoots. In the end, the judges decided to send home Cassandra, "the girl with the heart of gold -- who's beautiful on the inside and out -- but haven't seen that on a picture yet."
"I'll miss everybody... they totally touched my heart," said Cassandra.