Isabella the first girl cut 'America's Next Top Model's twelfth season
By John Bracchitta, 03/05/2009
Criticized by judges for her sub-par photo shoot, Isabella, a 19-year-old aspiring model from Barboursville, VA, was revealed to be the first runway wannabe eliminated from America's Next Top Model's twelfth season during last night's special two-hour premiere broadcast on The CW.
"So, first elimination tonight. Didn't see it coming,"said Isabella following her elimination. "But I'm a model, and you get some jobs and you don't get some jobs. I didn't book this job, so I'm gonna go and get signed by an agency and get my career going. So goodbye for now, you'll be seeing me around."
After a first hour that featured the season's semifinalists being narrowed down to the competition's 13 finalists in Las Vegas, NV, the broadcast's second hour began with the finalists reuniting in New York City with judges Nigel Barker and Paulina Porizkova on the top of the Empire State Building and receiving the keys to their new Top Model townhouse on the Upper East Side.
Because she received the keys from the judges, Celia, a 25-year-old designer in fashion sales from Cynthiana, KY, was told she would be able to have her pick of beds in the house.
"Holy cow, out of thousands and thousands of girls who auditioned for this I ended up being part of the 13," said London, an 18-year-old student from Arlington, TX. "I still have no words. There should be a word for 'Holy cow, this is really happening.'"
"I've been living in a small town my entire life. I am so excited to be in New York City, in the fashion capital of the world," said Isabella. "I can actually say to myself 'I'm a model.'"
Upon arriving at the house the season's first controversy ensued after Celia used her ability to choose her bed to take one that Sandra, a 19-year-old student from Rockville, MD, had already chosen. After it was subsequently discovered that there were only 12 beds in the house for the 13 contestants and that they had all been taken, Sandra began complaining that Celia had stolen her bed and said she would not give it up, angering her housemates.
"Sandra why are you acting like this," said Aminat, a 21-year-old student from Union, NJ, after the incident. "I'm trying to understand you, but right now you're turning me off."
Celia stood by her taking of Sandra's bed and said that she would not "be rolled over" by Sandra and give it back to her for any reason. The argument persisted until London stepped forward and volunteered to sleep on the floor so Sandra could have a bed.
"I just stepped in as the pacifist," London said later. "Honestly, I really know that I'll have a bed eventually."
Other discussions around the house also focused on two the more unique finalists: Isabella, who suffers from epilepsy, and Tahlia, an 18-year-old student from Phoenix, AZ who suffered burns on her stomach and legs as a child and still had noticeable scarring on her body.
"[Epilepsy] is something that I live with, it's not who I am," said Isabella of her condition.
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When speaking of her burns, Tahlia said that she had been the victim of many jokes throughout her life, but wanted to use her time on the show to try and motivate "burn survivors" to not be limited by their scarring.
"I want to be a role model for kids that are exactly like me," she said. "I want to send the message that if I can do it, you can do it."
After receiving their first Tyra Mail of the season, the contestants traveled to the 59th Street Bridge where they met with judge J "Miss J" Alexander and photo shoot director Jay Manuel where they learned they would be participating in a fashion show modeling designs by designer Laura Poretzky of Abaete. In addition to donning the outfits, the contestants were also told they would either have to exude a "naughty" or "nice" theme on the runway during their walk.
"Girls, your modeling education starts now," said Miss J.
While most of the girls had few troubles with their walks for the show, Sandra seemed to disappoint the judges the most after only walking halfway up the runway before abruptly turning around and walking back.
Isabella also was "freaked out" before her walk after seeing that the stage was surrounded by active strobe lights, which had the potential to trigger an epileptic episode. However, she was able not focus on the lights and complete her walk.
After seeing that each of the other contestants had been given outfits that showed off their bodies, Tahlia was upset that her outfit -- a suit -- was the only one to cover up her body and hide her scars.
"I was upset because I was hiding something that I can't help and that should be accepted around the world," she said.
Upon retuning to the house, Tahlia had to be calmed down by Aminat as she continued to dwell on her runway outfit.
"What I have is not just unique, but to some people it's ugly and it's disgusting, and I need to let it go but it's just really hard," she added later.
Sandra also continued to alienate herself from the other contestants after screaming at Celia, Isabella and Allison, a 20-year-old artist from New Orleans, LA for talking too loud in the room while she was trying to sleep and told them to go into the living room.
"It's not about friendship, this is competition, and I'm here to win it," a determined Sandra said later. "I will knock the girls down one-by-one without even touching them, because I'm Sandra."
After receiving Tyra Mail the following day informing the contestants of their first photo shoot, the girls traveled and met with Jay in Central Park where they were told that the shoot would involve each contestant innocently playing a classic childhood game while being surrounded by "bad girls" portrayed by a group of guest models. Jay added that Fadil Berisha would be photographing them for the shoot.
For their shoots, Fo, a 19-year-old student from Albuquerque, NM was given the game of "Ring Around the Rosie." She was followed by London, who portrayed "Tug of War;" Tahlia, who was given "Tag;" Natalie, a 19-year-old student from Palos Verdes, CA who told to portray "Leap Frog;" Sandra, who was given "Hide and Seek;" Kortnie, a 24-year-old non-profit organizer from Houston, TX who portrayed "Monkey Bars;" Aminat, who was given "London Bridge;" Nijah, an 18-year-old aspiring model from Rancho Cucamonga, CA who portrayed "Musical Chairs;" Allison, who was given "Double Dutch;" Teyona, a 20-year-old loss prevention representative from Woodstown, NJ who performed "Hopscotch;" Celia, who was given "Hula Hoop;" and Jessica, an 18-year-old student from Bradenton, FL who portrayed "Jacks."
Isabella's shoot had her portraying "Dodgeball" and didn't go well, with Jay quickly becoming aggravated when Isabella began taking his notes too literally and turned a "graceful" shoot into one he described as "broken."
"This [photo shoot] was probably one of the biggest disasters of the day," Jay said following the shoot's completion.
After finishing the shoot and returning to their house -- where Sandra trumpeted that she was certain she would be safe from elimination while Tahlia's insecurities continued as she worried she may be eliminated -- the contestants gathered with the judges to reveal which girl would be going home.
Upon meeting with America's Next Top Model host and judge Tyra Banks and learning the grand prize that the season's winner would be receiving -- a management deal with Elite Model Management; a $100,000 contract with cosmetics company CoverGirl; and a cover story and six-page fashion spread in an issue of Seventeen magazine -- the judges began creating each of the contestants' photos from their shoots.
When looking at Sandra's photo, Tyra said that she looked "lost," while Nigel agreed and said she had also looked frightened during her disappointing runway walk.
Nigel was equally critical of Isabella's photo, calling it an "unusual shot" and saying that it looked like she was "pumpkin tossing." Tyra added that for much of her film Isabella had accidentally covered her face up with her hands with her movements, which she added was something she would have to avoid if she wanted to become a successful model.
The judges were impressed by Allison's photo, with Tyra calling her "absolutely adorable" and Nigel saying that she had made the picture good despite lackluster performances by her backup models.
Following deliberation from the judges, Tyra revealed that Allison had won the first photo shoot of the season and would have her picture displayed as digital art in the girl's house. She proceeded to announce that Fo, Teyona, London, Celia, Nijah, Kortnie, Natalie, Aminat, Tahlia, and Jessica were all safe from elimination -- leaving Isabella and Sandra as the week's bottom two contestants.
"[You're] that beautiful girl next door with that beautiful spirit, [but when you] got on that set and I don't know what you're doing," Tyra told Isabella. "You were lost."
"On that runway you were the biggest disappointment for Miss J," she added, turning her attention to Sandra. "And then we go 'Okay, maybe first fashion show.' Then we get your photo and that was disappointing as well."
"So who says in this competition?" Tyra asked before revealing that Sandra was safe and Isabella had been eliminated.