Nijah becomes the third girl cut from 'America's Next Top Model'
By John Bracchitta, 03/19/2009
Nijah, an 18-year-old aspiring model from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, was revealed to be the third runway wannabe eliminated from America's Next Top Model's twelfth season during last night's broadcast on The CW
"I'm disappointed in myself. It hurts, to say goodbye I'm gonna miss the girls a lot," Nijah said following her elimination. "This competition has opened my eyes to a lot of things... This is gonna open a lot of doors for me."
America's Next Top Model's third twelfth-season episode began with the 11 remaining girls returning to their townhouse following the elimination of Jessica, an 18-year-old student from Bradenton, FL. After being criticized for being too emotionless in her photos -- specifically with her eyes -- Nijah committed to try and rectify the problem before her next date with the judges.
"I want the judges to see my personality, so I'm willing to work on that," she said. "I'm not boring, I'm trying to work on my intensity. I'll have it right next week."
The following day, the girls traveled to an old mansion where they met with runway expert and judge J. "Miss J" Alexander to learn the basics of runway walking. After stressing that the girls have "pace, poise, elegance and smooth" to their walk, Miss J watched each of the girls perform their walks and gave them additional pointers. Among the more notable fixes that Miss J made to the girls walks were his attempt to lessen the shoulder jiggle of Sandra, a 19-year-old student from Rockville, MD, and putting books on the head of Allison, a 20-year-old artist from New Orleans, LA, to improve her posture.
That night back at the house, tensions rose when a game of Truth or Dare resulted in Natalie -- a 19-year-old student from Palos Verdes, CA who had begun agitating some of the girls with her incessant chatter regarding her previous modeling experience -- revealing that she felt Tahlia, an 18-year-old student from Phoenix, AZ, had the weakest photo from the previous challenge.
After leaving the game, Tahlia -- who was already lacking confidence in herself after her performance during the previous round -- vented that she was no longer a fan of Natalie.
"When someone says something like that, yeah it hurts," Tahlia said. "I don't have modeling experience and I know I'm the underdog, but it rocks my confidence a little."
For the girls' next challenge they were able to put Miss J's runway tips to use after they learned they would be walking in a fashion show featuring designer Jill Stuart's Spring runway collection as Miss J and Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket watched in the audience.
During her walk, Natalie attempted to separate herself from the other girls by making a spin in the middle of her walk. However, the move only seemed to elicit a cringe from Miss J and not much else. Miss J was also impressed by the walk that Fo, a 19-year-old student from Albuquerque, NM, exhibited, whispering to Ann that she had followed his advice well.
Following the show, Miss J, Ann and Jill met with the girls. While impressed with many of the girls walks, Stuart revealed that Natalie had won the challenge despite her impromptu twirl.
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"I screwed up and still my walk proved to be better than theirs," a confident Natalie said following her victory. "That kinda might be a little intimidating you know?"
The following day the girls traveled to Columbus Circle where they met with photo shoot director Jay Manuel, who arrived on a New York Sightseeing tour bus, for their photo shoot. The girls were told that, with photographer Mike Rosenthal, they would be divided into groups and take pictures from the bus in specific locations in Manhattan while portraying characters who would be seen in that section of the city.
Fo and Aminat, a 21-year-old student from Union, NJ, where the first group to have their shoot. After the bus traveled down to Wall Street, the girls posed as brokers with computers and cell phones.
Nijah was paired up with Kortnie, a 24-year-old non-profit organizer from Houston, TX, and they were told to pose as SoHo artists after the bus traveled south of Houston St. to the famed shopping district. While Kortnie had few issues with the shoot, Nijah ran into larger problems, with Mike warning her that she was lacking energy and looked like a mannequin.
Later, Nijah admitted to being a bit thrown by having to share the frame with another model.
"It's one thing to go on a photo shoot and you're the center of attention. It's another thing to go on a photo shoot and you have to work with somebody else and you have to make sure that you get a picture where u both look good," she said.
Celia, a 25-year-old designer in fashion sales from Cynthiana, KY, and Sandra, a 19-year-old student from Rockville, MD, went next, posing as nannies with baby carriages in front of a museum. While they were a bit unsure how to portray a nanny in a modeling shoot, the girls still managed to impress Jay and Mike.
Allison and London, an 18-year-old student from Arlington, TX, posed next as Upper East Side snobs after the bus stopped outside a designer store. While London was able to jump into her character with little trouble, Jay had to work with Allison, who he noticed had a hard time playing "a convincing bitch."
Tahlia, Natalie and Teyona, a 20-year-old loss prevention representative from Woodstown, NJ, were the final group to pose. After the bus settled in Times Square, the girls were told to portray excited tourists. While Jay was not overly impressed with Natalie's performance, he called Tahlia's strong performance the "shocker of the day."
Paulina criticized Kortnie and Nijah's photo for not remotely conveying that they were supposed to be "SoHo artists." Nigel added that Nijah "[pulled] this picture down for me. It looks really model-y and I don't really believe the shot with you." Tyra piled on as well, saying Nijah looked "uncomfortable in the shot."
The judges were much more complimentary of Celia and Sandra's shot, with Miss J saying it was "so editorial, I absolutely love it." Nigel said that their portrayals in no way resembled nannies, but added that he was actually glad that they had avoided such a look. Tyra was quite complimentary as well, especially when it came to Sandra.
"Sandra, for me you steal this picture. You're in almost complete profile with the attitude in your face," she said. "You make this whole picture come alive."
For Allison and London's shot, Tyra said that the girls failed to pull upon such pop culture references such as Paris Hilton or Gossip Girl and instead led to a dull photo. Allison came under additional fire, with Nigel saying that it seemed like she was over thinking her shoot while Paulina said she looked like a "hung over Olsen twin" in her picture.
Following the judges' deliberation, Tyra revealed that Sandra had taken the best picture of the shoot and would have her shot -- with Celia airbrushed out of the picture -- displayed as digital art in the girls' townhouse. She then proceeded to reveal that Aminat, Tahlia, Fo, Celia, Kortnie, London, Teyona and Natalie were all still in the running to become America's Next Top Model next winner and that either Allison or Nijah, who were in the bottom two, would be eliminated from the competition.
Tyra first addressed Allison on why she had fallen into the bottom two.
"Allison when you walk into a room people go 'Whoa.' That's different, that's interesting, I've never seen that before, so the judges go 'Hmm that's something special there.' But what we didn't see in your photo was something special there," Tyra said. "Is it a fluke that happens in pictures sometimes? Because what they saw today was quite depressing for them."
Tyra then turned her attention to Nijah.
"What they see in your pictures is a beautiful girl but they're trying to get back to that girl in the first week," Tyra said. "That photo was so beautiful, so sparkly, such shine in those eyes, such tension in your body, and they wanna see that girl."
"So who stays?" she asked, before revealing that Allison would remain in the competition while Nijah had been eliminated.