Natalie the eighth contestant cut from 'America's Next Top Model'
By John Bracchitta, 04/23/2009
Natalie, a 19-year-old student from Palos Verdes, CA, was revealed to be the eighth runway wannabe eliminated from America's Next Top Model's twelfth season during last night's broadcast on The CW.
"This was the only panel that I was not nervous for, and it's even more frustrating that somebody had a worse picture than me, they got to stay," Natalie said following her elimination. "One thing I did learn from this competition is that you've gotta have thick skin, and I think this was like an awakening for me to realize that. Now I'm going to go home and start over, but I'm still asking myself why I'm going home."
America's Next Top Model's eighth twelfth-season episode began with the six remaining girls leaving New York City for Sao Paulo, Brazil following the previous episode's elimination of London. After winning both challenges from the previous round, Teyona, a 20-year-old loss prevention representative from Woodstown, NJ, admitted her newfound success may have placed a target on her back.
"To be in the final six is more than exciting because I get to go to Brazil," Teyona said. "I do feel as though a couple of people are sipping on their 'hatorade' lately and now that I'm doing so well it's like oh I gotta watch out now."
After arriving in Sao Paulo, the girls met with model and Brazil's Next Top Model host Fernanda Motta and learned they would be partnering up and racing to a local flower shop in a cab to get the favorite flowers of Helo Pinheiro, the woman who inspired the song "The Girl From Ipanema."
Teyona partnered up with Aminat, a 21-year-old student from Union, NJ, and left for the flower shop in first place. Natalie and Fo, a 19-year-old student from Albuquerque, NM, left in second place while Allison, a 20-year-old artist from New Orleans, LA, and Celia, a 25-year-old designer in fashion sales from Cynthiana, KY, were the last team to leave.
Natalie and Fo won the race when they beat the other two teams to the flower shop and then maintained their lead as they traveled another location and delivered the flowers to Fernanda and Helo.
Celia and Allison followed in second place while Teyona and Aminat finished in third.
After meeting with the girls and suggesting they be graceful in their modeling movements, Helo presented the girls with the keys to their new home, a stylish pad in a high rise apartment building.
Upon arriving at the apartment, the girls were pleased with the flowers and jacuzzi in the apartment, but surprised to learn they would have to be share king-size beds together.
After settling in the apartment, Natalie's attitude continued to put off some of the girls as she complained that she had not been "impressed" by Brazil so far and wanted to go tanning instead. Aminat felt that Natalie's comments only spoke to her arrogance and alter said that she did not see her as a good model.
"The girl is beautiful, but I don't see it in pictures," Aminat said.
The girls then traveled to an local outdoor square where they met with Master Eddy Murphy, an expert the martial arts style of capoeira. After learning some of the style's basic poses, the girls changed into martial arts uniforms and met with photo shoot director Jay Manuel and judge and runway expert J. "Miss J" Alexander and learned that they would be taking part in a photo challenge.
The girls also learned that whoever took the best photo would receive 50% more frames at their next photo shoot and also be able to take away half of the shots from one of the other girls for that same shoot.
Some of the contestants struggled with the photo challenge, with both Jay and Miss J. criticizing Teyona for forgetting to pose and just making capoeira movements, Celia for covering her face with many of her poses, and Natalie for not letting go of herself and trying to look too pretty in her shots. However, after each of the girls had posed, Jay announced that Fo had won the challenge based of the sharp poses with her body she had captured during her shoot.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so proud of myself, I finally won a challenge!" Fo said after her win. "I needed this so bad."
Fo took her 50% extra shots for her upcoming photo shoot from Teyona, citing not only her standing as one of the competition's strongest remaining competitors, but also a desire for revenge after Teyona had not selected her to come on a photo shoot after she had won an earlier challenge as her reasons.
After returning to their apartment, the girls then set out again and traveled to a local favela, or a low income shantytown, for their photo shoot. Once there, they met with Jay and learned that they would be taking part in a Brazilian photographer Daniel Klajmic would be shooting them in a photo shoot inspired by the 1950's sex appeal of actress Carmen Miranda, a.k.a. "the Chiquita banana girl."
Once she learned the photo shoot's theme, Natalie became excited and confident that she would perform well.
"When Jay tells us that Carmen Miranda embodies a lot of sex appeal, I'm just like 'Oh my God yes, finally something that I'm good at,'" she said.
However, Natalie proved to be uncomfortable during the shoot and found herself distracted by the shooting location, which she called "poor" and "not a good area."
During Aminat's shoot, Jay warned that she was not posing her body enough and encouraged Aminat to utilize the capoeira poses she had learned earlier. However even after the advice, many of Aminat's shots lacked the movement that Jay was looking for.
"Aminat's problem is that she steps on set and she shuts herself off," Jay said later. "That bubbling personality, that creative gene, she just never brings it in front of the camera."
Allison fared much better during her shoot after Jay urged her to have more fun while on camera and she responded by with many lively and seductive poses along with strong facial expressions in her shots as well.
"The person who usually brings down Allison in a photo shoot is Allison," Jay said following her shoot. "But today her face came alive and she became kind of sexy and it worked!"
Following the photo shoot, Natalie expressed confidence in her photo shoot and did not think that she would not be in trouble at the upcoming judges' panel.
"I'm not nervous this time about panel," she said. "But you never now how your pictures are gonna turn out. But I think it will be hard to find a bad picture.
While Aminat felt that she had done better in her shoot than her previous one, she still worried that she may fall victim to criticism from the judges as well.
When looking at Aminat's photo, Nigel said that she looked "pretty good" in her shot but that it was "nothing spectacular." Fernanda complimented her facial poses but did not like the twisted pose that Aminat's body was in, which Tyra later added was the "number one black model pose."
Tyra added that she felt Aminat was doing "so, so much" while she was actually not, with Paulina agreeing.
"Aminat you are beautiful, but you are boring," Paulina said.
The judges had a similarly lukewarm reaction to Natalie's photo, which Nigel said was not particularly extraordinary and instead more of the same from her.
"We've seen this sexy, sultry look on your face the whole time, and Carmen Miranda was known for having a bit of spice and sense of humor, so it would be nice to see that in your face," Nigel said.
Miss J added that Natalie looked "exhausted" in the shot while Fernanda liked her pose but added that "the sparkle was missing" from the shot.
Natalie insisted that Jay had been very complimentary of her poses and pictures, which caused Tyra to respond that hearing that from a photo shoot director could actually be a negative if it resulted in the model never changing her poses. In addition, Tyra also noted that she had only seen Natalie in two different poses in all her photos.
Unlike their reactions to Natalie and Aminat, the judges were very complimentary of Allison's shot.
"I've gotta say, finally, I actually quite like it," Nigel said. "It's editorial. It has he essence of what [Carmen Miranda] was about."
"You are just adorable," added Paulina as the judges all complimented her face in the shot.
"You look active, you look alive and you look sexy," added Tyra.
Following the judges' deliberation, Tyra revealed that Allison had taken the best photo of the shoot before proceeding to reveal that Teyona, Fo and Celia were still in the running to become America's Next Top Model's next winner while Aminat and Natalie were in the bottom two and were up for elimination from the competition.
"Natalie, you're one of the prettiest girls in this bunch. The judges look at you and go 'Wow, she's an obvious model.' But what they see from week to week in your photos is obvious posing, and what the judges are looking for is America's Next Top Model, not somebody that's uninspiring," Tyra told her before turning her attention to Aminat.
"The judges look at you and they say 'Wow, she's got the best body in this bunch, she is a model,'" Tyra told Aminat. "But you think you're doing more than you portray. You think you pose with so much vivacious, vitality, and energy and fierceness, but the fierceness is stuck up in your head."
"So who stay in this competition?" Tyra asked, before revealing that Aminat had been spared while Natalie had been eliminated from the competition.