We’ve watched supermodel hopefuls compete for the title of America’s Next Top Model since 2003 — and over 15 years later, the show is still going strong. Host Tyra Banks assists in choosing the contestants and cultivating their skills week after week, and while some contestants fail the challenges and are sent home, others thrive. From their look to their personality and their ability to connect with the camera, one winner is chosen at the end of the season — and they’re awarded a monetary prize as well as contracts with modeling and beauty agencies.
The perks sound amazing, but not every winner has been happy with the show after all is said and done. Here’s what past winners have said.
Season 1 winner, Adrianne Curry, said modeling agencies wanted her to fail
Adrianne Curry | Adrianne Curry via Instagram
Going back all the way to the first cycle, we remember when the rough-around-the-edges Adrianna Curry beat out the rest of the contestants for the top spot. She seemed endlessly grateful to Tyra when she was announced as the winner — but after the show ended, she changed her tune. TooFab notes on her personal blog, Adrianne noted she was awarded a contract with Revlon cosmetics and Wilhelmina modeling agency. But when she met with Revlon, they allegedly told her they were never planning on using the ANTM winner for future ads. Adrianne said she was still awarded $15,000 to model makeup for the company, but even so, she was hoping for a more sustainable agreement.
As for Wilhelmina, that was another major disappointment for the model. After Season 1, ANTM reportedly decided to do business with a different modeling agency — and that made Wilhelmina not want to work with Adrianne. “Wilhelmina then informed me they didn’t want me to be successful in any way to spite top model,” she wrote on the blog.
With all Adrianne’s setbacks, she also said she couldn’t get ahold of Tyra for help when she reached out. “I saw Tyra and the show as angels that had saved me and gave me a new life. The realization that they didnt give a f**k about me was crushing. I was so angry.” Now that she’s a bit older, however, Adrianne has changed her tune and says she’s thankful for the show — but she did wish the promises that were made to her were kept.
Winner Lisa D’Amato said she thinks Tyra likes to keep contestants ‘down a little bit’
Model Lisa D’Amato | Lisa D’Amato via Instagram
Adrianna isn’t the only Top Model winner to spill some tea on Tyra and the show. TooFab notes Lisa D’Amato, who first appeared on Season 5 and later won the All-Stars season, said she found success — but it was largely up to her to advocate for herself. Lisa told the publication, “I think that the show is definitely a platform and you have to take it upon yourself to do the work [after] and make sure your personality and your presence is out there pounding the pavement.” However, she also said she thinks the show could have done more to help out the winners post-production.”I do think that with the connections they have, they [those behind the scenes at ANTM] should try to throw you a bone,” she added.
As for Tyra, Lisa echoed Adrianne’s sentiment that she seemed totally absent after her season aired. Not only that, but she said she thinks Tyra is “like the Queen Bee” and likes “to keep everybody down a little bit.”
Runner-up Yaya DaCosta said companies did not want to work with her due to her Top Model past
Yaya DaCosta | Yaya DaCosta via Instagram
She may not have won Top Model, but Yaya DaCosta is still one of the show’s biggest successes to date. She’s been in several films and TV shows and is actively accomplishing her acting dreams. Many would assume being runner-up on ANTM would have helped her career, but instead, she noted during an interview with Complex that it may have done more harm than good.
According to Yaya, being part of a reality TV program came with stigma in the acting world. “You didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t on your résumé. Producers for Take the Lead and Honeydripper told me that if they had known, they wouldn’t have hired me,” she added.
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