Felicia Provost the fourth girl sent home from 'Top Model 8'
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/22/2007
The 10 remaining runway wannabes competing on the eighth season of The CW's America's Next Top Model brought some life to a morbid photo shoot during the fourth episode of the reality competition series. When it was over, although the judges thought all the girls had excelled at the shoot, Felicia Provost, a 19-year-old sales associate from Houston, TX, was the fourth finalist eliminated.
"I'm sad because I expected to go farther than this," said Felicia, who many believed to be a doppelganger of Top Model creator Tyra Banks. "I just got to deal with it. Everything happens for a reason. I am definitely gonna keep modeling, that's just something I have to keep doing, no matter what happened here. Nothing at all is going to keep me from following my dream."
Top Model 8's fourth episode began with Whitney Cunningham, a 21-year-old college student from West Palm Beach, FL who is one of two plus-sized models in the competition, complaining about how some of the judges told her that they don't think she looks like a model during the last elimination.
"I left a very good school to come here. I go to Dartmouth, and I'm not on financial aid, so that's $9,000 I'm going to be in the hole to my father," explained Whitney. "So if you don't think I look or act like a model, I'm going to make you know that I'm a model."
The girls then received some Tyra Mail, revealing they'd be working on how to strike a pose. As Jael Strauss, a 22-year-old band manager from Detroit, MI, continued to cope with the death of a friend, Felicia tried to cheer her up by teaching her some dance moves. "My friend died, but I don't feel alone," said Jael. "Going through this, I feel really fortunate to have friends in the house." Renee DeWitt, a 20-year-old stay-at-home-mom from Maui, HI who has continuously butted heads with some of the other girls, reflected on how her Top Model journey was shaping up.
"I feel like a lot of the girls in the house don't understand me. They're just looking for ways to be offended by me... I don't know why, I feel like they just don't like me," said Renee before she went to bed, apparently waking up with a new attitude. "This morning is a brand new morning for me. I woke-up, and I thought, 'You know what Renee? You've been getting into it with the other girls quite a lot.' I want to win this. I'm not going to win it with a bitchy attitude, so I've got to stop being mean. I'm making a change."
Her first act of kindness was giving Jael a picture she drew, which Jael thought was "so awesome of her." With the girls piled in a limo, they approached a crossing guard who pulled their vehicle to the side of the road. Natasha Galkina, a 21-year-old college student from Dallas, TX who is originally from Russia, was scared because she thought it was a police officer. Instead it was Benny Ninja, a posing instructor who was going to teach the girls how to vogue, which he described as adding movement to posing. The girls participated in a battle of voguing, exaggerating their poses. Benny thought Whitney was fabulous, called Dionne Walters, a 20-year-old college student from Montgomery, AL, a "rookie," and was impressed with Felicia.
"Felicia is an amazing girl. She is a natural at posing," he said. Added Felicia, "Turns out, I kick ass!"
Back at the house, the girls received another piece of Tyra Mail and learned they'd be putting their posing practice to use in the next challenge. Whitney and Felicia bonded while practicing. "Felicia's just grown on me so much," she said. "I kind of look at her as a little sister. She's such a beautiful girl -- she looks like Tyra -- and I think she's going to do well in the competition." Sitting outside, Renee braided the hair of Brittany Hatch, a 21-year-old bartender from Savannah, GA and one of the girls she's had issues with.
"Renee sort of has this double side to her. She can be a lot of fun, she can be really nice, but she has this bitchy undertone to things. But I'm happy as long as she's nice to me," said Brittany. Added Diana Zalewski, a 21-year-old college student from Garfield, NJ, "Renee is very manipulative, and I believe she looks for a girl in the house to try to be there for her... try to control her in a sense. So I don't buy it."
The next morning, Jael burned herself with a curling iron as she prepared to leave. The girls the arrived at a huge building in downtown Los Angeles, where they were met by Benny, who informed them tested on their knowledge of posing and movement for the chance to win a $40,000 diamond bracelet. "But you know I'm going to make you work for it," said Benny. He told the girls they'd be slinking through a "crazy maze of lasers" in a vault while striking poses all the while.
"The prize is a $40,000 diamond bracelet... I have to win this. I've got to win this," said Renee. "My husband and I are really broke right now. This would be a fresh start for my family and I."
With a two-minute time limit to attempt the maze, Benny explained multiple girls may complete it. However that didn't guarantee the prize, as Benny revealed he gets to decide who has the "most poise and grace," determining the winner. While Dionne was the first to go and had some difficulty, she eventually made it through. Actually all of the girls made it through the maze, except for Renee, who went last.
"I just can't believe that every girl who went before me got a key and I didn't. I was hoping that I could use this to pay-off all the bills... we're swimming in debt. We don't have any place to live," opined Renee. "I just feel like a Failed... I feel like I failed my family." Since nine girls collected keys, the decision was up to Benny, who picked Whitney as the winner.
"Whitney blew my mind. Her poses were phenomenal, and she kept eye contact with me the whole entire time," said Benny. Despite complaining about needing money earlier in the episode, Whitney changed her tune following her victory, commenting, "I think I'm going to keep the bracelet because there's a lot of sentimental value to it."
Renee said she feels like her "spirit's been broken" as all the other girls in the house had a good time. She called her husband Jason, and asked her to come pick her up because "she doesn't want to be here." She said she should be with her family instead of "all these stupid girls." Felicia wanted to use the phone, and when she politely approached Renee to tell her, Renee told her to "go away."
"She almost got slapped," said Felicia of Renee. "She knows she's been lashing out at the girls, her attitude's been flaring a little bit. We get back to the house, and there's nothing changed. Renee just switch on. You never know which one you're going to get on which day with her, so you have to be careful."
The girls then received some more Tyra Mail, and learned they'd be tested on their ability to pose at their next photo shoot. They arrived on the roof of the Alexandria Hotel, where they were met by Top Model's creative director of photo shoots Jay Manuel. He informed them sometimes "you have to learn to bring some life to a dead pose," so all the girls were crime-scene victims for their photos.
"I want to see some life, even though you're dead," said Manuel, adding the girls would be photographed by Mike Rosenthal.
Renee was "really nervous," and for shoot she was poisoned. Manual was impressed, calling her shoot "editorial" and "high fashion." However Renee didn't want to tell the girls she did well because "they already hate her." But Manual told the girls how well Renee did, and when he asked Renee why the other girls don't like her, she answered, "I'm a bitch."
Jaslene Gonzalez, a 20-year-old online college admissions advisor from Chicago, IL, posed as if she was pushed off a roof. Brittany was electrocuted; Diana had her organs stolen; Sarah Vanderhaar, a 20-year-old photographer from Lake Zurich, IL, was pushed down stairs; Whitney was stabbed; Natasha was drowned and Dionne was shot. Felicia was decapitated, and used a blank stare approach, which Manual and Rosenthal weren't big fans of.
"It looks like you're taking a nap... we need it to look like you're brutally killed," said Rosenthal. But Felicia had a higher opinion, commenting, "I think my photo shoot kicked ass. I am almost positive that it's going to shock the [judges]."
Jael also had a difficult shoot, and told Manual she was thinking of her friend overdosing. "I'm not sure if that was the right way to go," said Manual. "You got in a place that was really, really heavy, and it allowed you not to focus on what you were doing. It's important to use that emotion without... overwhelming you." Overall, Manual thought all the girls did well, commenting, "I think the judges are going to have a really tough time because all the girls delivered in a way I never expected."
Judges for the elimination were Banks, photographer Nigel Barker, runway expert J. Alexander, British supermodel Twiggy and Rosenthal. Renee was the first to face the judges -- and while she was concerned about her performance in the challenge -- the judges were wowed by her shoot.
"You know what Renee? You're incredible in-front of me, you're beautiful in this picture... this is a full package right now," said Nigel.
A trend at recent eliminations, the judges were horrified at the way Dionne has been dressing, but were happy with her shoot. The only girl who really received any negative reviews was Felicia.
"I think in this picture, I actually look at you and you're dead. You're so used to moving, that when you have to be dead, you are just that. D-E-A-D," said Nigel. "Some of the simplest things like acting dead can be the most challenging... the problem is, you didn't do anything. You just gave up and thought that was being dead." Tyra simply told Felicia she thought the photo "would be better than that."
During deliberations, it came down to Dionne -- who Nigel thought "lacked presence" -- and Felicia, who he thought was "cocky." Tyra said the judges thought Dionne wasn't inspiring enough in person, while they thought Felicia was "falling apart." While Tyra said the general consensus was Felicia is "beautiful," they also agreed she needed "more development," so she was eliminated.
"Those are my sisters," said Felicia of the nine remaining girls, who were all crying when it was revealed Felicia was going home. "Seeing the other girls cry, it made me feel good because I had an impact on them."