Jael Strauss the eighth girl sent home from The CW's 'Top Model 8'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/19/2007
The six remaining runway wannabes competing on the eighth season of The CW's America's Next Top Model sharpened their interview skills during last night's episode before traveling to Sydney, Australia, where Jael Strauss, a 22-year-old band manager from Detroit, MI, was sent packing back to the States.
"I've been through so much here, and it's been such a learning experience and I'm so thankful to have had it. I am so proud that I have gotten this far," Jael said upon learning she was eliminated. "I am going to miss each and every one of the 13 girls who started off in the house equally and in different ways. I created bonds with each and every one of them, and I might be the only person who's been here fortunate to do so."
Top Model 8's eighth broadcast began with Jael talking with Jaslene Gonzalez, a 20-year-old online college admissions advisor from Chicago, IL, about how they were both among the bottom three in last week's episode, which saw Whitney Cunningham be the seventh girl eliminated. While Jaslene felt the "pressure is on," Jael thought it was "awesome" to have made it as far as she had.
"Everybody in the house is so eccentric and different, that's why I feel I deserve to be here," explained Jael. "I have complete faith in myself because I am the spreading of light."
The girls then received some Tyra Mail and were reminded talking to people isn't as easy it looks. They were then met at the house by Top Model 2fourth-place finisher April Wilkner, who told them she's been working as a model in the U.S. and abroad, and said she's also enjoyed being employed as a correspondent. She was going to prepare the girls for that kind of work. With the help of actor/comedian Gary Riotto, she explained two types of problem interviews: "timid" interviews, when you don't say enough, and "chatterbox" interviews, when you say too much."
"I know how to talk to people about anything because I'm fearless and I have a lot to say," boasted Jael.
The girls were then paired into groups of two, with one acting as the host of an interview and the other acting as the guest, before they switched roles. Jaslene was paired with Brittany Hatch, a 21-year-old bartender from Savannah, GA, and both struggled to keep the conversation of the interview natural.
Natasha Galkina, a 21-year-old college student from Dallas, TX who is originally from Russia, and Renee Alway, a 20-year-old stay-at-home-mom from Maui, HI, were also paired together. "I would make the best correspondent out of the group because I have the look and I'm able to talk," said a confident Natasha, although April thought the interview with Renee was "ping pong."
Jael was paired with Dionne Walters, a 20-year-old college student from Montgomery, AL, and their interview was confrontational. Dionne noticed Jael "blabs about any and everything," and she was right. Natasha thought their interview was "hot" and "imagined two cats are ready to jump on each other" while watching it, and April commented it was "a little bit combative."
Back at the house, the girl relaxed a little bit in the pool and Jael was topless. "Jael and I had difference in the past," commented Renee. "But it's always been, 'Okay, we can separate and vent.' Now we're back on track, and I'm just kind of letting Jael be Jael. But I don't know if she has what it takes to be a model."
The next morning, April met the girls at the Los Angeles house they'd been living at and informed them they'd be hitting the streets with everything they learned. Suddenly, Top Model co-creator Tyra Banks entered in a kangaroo costume and surprised them with the news that they'd be going to Sydney, Australia. But the trip wouldn't be all fun, as the girls learned that once they arrived in Australia, they'd be putting their interview skills to work on the streets of Sydney. The winner of the challenge would serve as a correspondent on the syndicated talk show The Tyra Banks Show "more than once."
After the girls landed in Sydney, they were met by original Australia's Next Top Model host Erika Heynatz. She told them that for their challenge, they'd be learning some "Aussie slang" which they would then use to do on-the-street interviews with people about American fashion faux pas. Brittany explained she was "nervous" for the challenge because when she was 17, she was "run over by a car," needed eight staples in her head, and it affected her short-term memory.
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Although she'd never been hit by a car, Dionne was also nervous. "I'm not at all ready for this challenge because it's like we didn't even get a chance to rest. We didn't get any sleep on the plane! You're asking us to go out and interview people!," said Dionne.
Renee, Jaslene and Natasha did well during the challenge, while Brit and Jael struggled, and Dionne didn't use any slang and instead kept saying, "that's cool, that's cool." Once the challenge was done, Erika told them the winner wouldn't be revealed until the next judging panel.
As they moved into their new Sydney apartment, several of the girls got very excited, but Natasha never lost focus. "I know that there are six of us, but only one is going to be the winner," she said. 'It's the break point of the competition where you have to get serious." Meanwhile Jael began to get nervous because she had been in the bottom two twice now, and Renee was confident because she and Brittany were the only remaining finalists who had not been in the bottom three yet.
The next day, the girls received some Tyra Mail and learned they'd be attending their first photo shoot down under. They were met by Jay Manuel, Top Model's creative director of photo shoots, who told them they'd be filming a Cover Girl commercial but needed to use a fake Australian accent. "I'm very nervous about this challenge because I have an accent, and I have to put my Aussie accent on-top of my Russian accent," explained Natasha.
While they were having their hair and make-up done, the girls rehearsed their lines and accents for the commercial. Once again, Brittany was nervous due to her short-term memory. Renee went first, and Manuel thought it was a "good job." However he thought Dionne sounded like she was delivering "one run-on sentence," and it took her more than a dozen takes. Jael required more than 20 takes, and she had numerous problems. Manuel suggested she try to make it "conversational," but it didn't help.
"Doing the Cover Girl commercial is a bit over the top... it's definitely difficult," said Jael. Manuel "loved her energy," but said the crew "struggled to get a good line read" out of her. Eventually Jael started to tear up. "I know it's hard. If I don't prep you and give you the harsh reality of where it is now, you're not going to get to that end result," he told her.
Jaslene nailed the script and was the first to do so without cue cards. Brittany had even more problems than Jael, requiring 30 takes. Manuel told Brittany to "work through her shortcomings," but it appeared she was already mentally defeated before the shoot even began. "If you let it overtake your emotions -- I can see the tears coming in your eyes and everything -- that's just going to defeat you," explained Manuel. Brittany called it "frustrating" the accident still affected her. Manuel said the problem he had was that "Brit was totally overcome by that emotional scar and baggage," which "totally shattered her performance."
After a few words of encouragement from Manuel, he called Natasha's shoot "genius." "I feel bloody good mate about my Cover Girl commercial," Natasha joked afterward. On their way back to their apartment, Brittany and Jael were both nervous. "I don't want to go home," said Jael. "I'm not finished spreading the joy to the universe."
Later, the girls met Tyra, photographer Nigel Barker, runway expert J. Alexander, former model Twiggy and Erika for the episode's judging panel. After Tyra asked for a "Hollah for the Top 6," she revealed Natasha won the challenge and landed the The Tyra Banks Show correspondent role.
"I cannot believe it!" said an excited Natasha.
As the judges reviewed the girls' commercials Tyra said she was "shocked and amazed" at how good Natasha's commercial had turned out. However Tyra thought Dionne had to "always be camp" and was reminded to have a sense of humor. Tyra noticed Jaslene "committed" to the accent, but was "thinking too much." Alexander thought Renee wasn't very "soft and pretty," and Tyra said the acting was good but there wasn't much modeling.
The judges universally panned Jael's performance. Nigel said she could have smiled and Tyra added Jael "looked like an anarchist making fun of a Cover Girl instead of bringing herself into it."
Brittany explained her short-term memory problem to the judges and couldn't help but crying again. "Fashion has no sympathy or empathy," commented Alexander. Despite fumbling her lines, Twiggy thought Brittany "looked gorgeous."
During deliberations, Jael and Brittany were immediately singled out. Nigel said Jael "does nothing" for him, and Twiggy thought Brittany needed to "conquer" her nerves. Tyra said Brittany has some of the "strongest pictures," but couldn't deliver the Cover Girl commercial, which "scared" the judges. While they tried to be "compassionate" due to her situation, Tyra explained the judges couldn't "favor her" because of it. Tyra said Jael took "beautiful pictures" throughout the competition, but said she presents herself "ghastly" on film and "fell flat," which made the judges "nervous."
After Jael's elimination was announced, she embraced Brittany and whispered, "Go get 'em" before addressing Tyra. "Thank you so much. Honestly, this experience has changed my life tremendously. I love all of you to death."