This is why America's Next Top Model needs Miss J. Alexander to come back!
Leila Goldkuhl never had proper runway training. She needed help from the runway diva coach extraordinaire. Her lousy runway walk got her eliminated on Cycle 19, Episode 5 and led her to fall — twice! — on the finale, Episode 12: “The Girl Who Becomes America’s Next Top Model.” When Tyra Banks told Leila she was in third place, she added the note that if Leila had perfected her walk, she might’ve won. Instead, her frenemy Laura James — she of the famous Dynasty actor dad, horses and a pond — won the season, with expert runway walker Kiara Belen as the runner-up.
So, all those times Laura won best photo and rocked challenges? It wasn’t a trick — she really was the frontrunner to win! We’re happy for her, and not that surprised, since she truly is the full package. But … Oh, Leila. You were so, so close.
Read on for a recap of the finale, and stay tuned for highlights from the post-finale clip show.
WHAT IS THIS, AMERICAN HORROR STORY?
Or maybe Jamaican Horror Story? The creepy finale starts in the mysteriously haunted Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay. Why, will the girls have to murder each other to win? This is an unusual opening — throwing us right into the action. It feels a little weird but … OMG it’s Sophie Sumner, our beloved British winner of Cycle 18. ADORE! Nastasia wants Kiara to win. Kristin now suddenly loves Laura and wants her to win, partly because she’s the “prettiest.” Darian wants Leila to win.
FLASHBACK TO THE NINE WEST SHOOT
OK, so now this is an episode of Lost, complete with flashbacks. We visit the ladies’ Nine West shoot, which includes both Kelly Cutrone and Johnny Wujek on set. Kelly is basically there to be loud and pushy and stir up drama with the poor photographer, Jez Smith. They seem like they are play-fighting — or maybe for real, whatever — but it’s unprofessional and steals the spotlight away from Laura. This is supposed to be her big finale shoot! Go away, Kelly! Johnny never had these problems on set before she showed up. Besides, if you’re going to pull that kind of scene, at least call in Victoria to do one of her characters. When Leila modeled, Johnny said by now she should know how to sell the product; sometimes she didn’t show off the clothes or shoes well.
NYLON MAGAZINE SHOOT
Laura said she was very insecure her whole life. She’s just now accepting that she’s beautiful. Laura thinks Kiara has given the same expression in all of her shots and shouldn’t have won best photo last week. Kiara isn’t just doing this for herself, it’s also for her grandparents and family. Leila says she’s very different-looking and she can see herself in Nylon magazine. The photographer said she was the best fit for Nylon and liked that she’s a little “off-looking.”
Laura cries a lot anyway, and she got all Survivor family visit when her parents wandered over. Her mother squeaked like she lost her voice. Leila got to see her mom, and she cried too. Kiara totally broke down when her grandmother arrived. Tyra is such a good shmoozer — she got to know all the parents and complimented their daughters.
FASHION SHOW — WITH A HORROR STORY FOR LEILA
OK, this ghostly horror movie thing is straight-up weird. Ghost Sophie — the jealous mistress — kisses Rob Evans and kills the other models. Is that a hint that Sophie might come back and win again? The final models’ outfits are … striking. You can’t even see half of their faces. The judges loved Kiara’s “swag.” Leila has a history of walking problems and— yep — she fell on the stairs. And then again as she was leaving the runway. Oh, Leila. She has another chance down the runway, but she was so embarrassed. Kiara was hyperventilating and crying, just from how big a moment it was. It was hard for Kelly to even watch Leila walking the second time. She did it, but just the stress of it was a lot, just as a viewer. She was apparently the only one to fall. It happens, but it happened to her twice and it’s hard to really look past that when the other models were able to pull it together.
FINAL JUDGING PANEL
The average fan votes and average challenge scores will be added to the judges’ scores/comments to determine the winner.
Laura — She won three challenges this cycle, so if she wins she get $30,000 in her scholarship bank. Not that she needs it. They said she was cupping her right hand a lot on the runway. Kelly was not sold on her. Rob said she has a more commercial look than high fashion. Laura started crying a bit when she said she was scared of being too sexy. When it comes to the Nine West shoot, Kelly referenced her own argument with Jez. Laura admitted it made her uncomfortable. Kelly should fire herself for that. Rob said she looks sexy, that’s just her look. Tyra thought the Nine West shoot was stunning and she was shoe tooching! Tyra loves that Laura isn’t super skinny. Rob loves it too, but said the industry doesn’t. Tyra said the industry is changing. But Tyra admitted Laura wasn't one of her favorites when she shot her for the warrior princess photos. Kelly said when Leila returned, Laura started to go downhill a bit. But Laura takes amazing photos.
Kiara — She won four challenges, so she has $40,000 in her scholarship bank. They loved her walk — one foot in front of the other. Kelly said she was a pleasure to walk. Rob said she was the best walker by far. Tyra said her athleticism played into that. When it comes to the Nine West shoot, Bryanboy said he was disappointed in this shot. A fan said this was one of her stronger photos. Rob said the top half of her body looked good, but not the bottom. Tyra said she didn’t pop, she looked too rested. She also should’ve leaned toward the photographer. The judges said Kiara was the best catwalker. They went through her photos and liked some but not all. They loved her Dream Come True photo. Bryanboy loves her look and is inspired by her.
Leila — She won one challenge, which would give her $10,000. They replayed her fall. She didn’t swing her arms so that hurt her balance. Kelly said if she were to cast Leila in a show she would be fired afterward. Leila tried to explain something about the dress, not make an excuse, and Kelly wouldn’t even let her talk. WHY, KELLY? Why can’t you just let her speak? Respect other people’s words. Ugh. When it comes to the Nine West shoot, Kelly said Leila had the best photo. Tyra said it’s like high fashion went on a date with commercial and created this as a baby. A male fan gushed with love for Leila as a high fashion model. And the fan loved Rob too! Rob said it’s the best picture. She’s definitely selling the shoes. She just needs to work on her runway and she could clean up as a model. Rob said she’s the model that could have her runway falls all over YouTube. Tyra said Leila has a very edgy look. Nylon loved Leila, Tyra said. Rob said Leila needs more personality.
WHO WILL WIN?
They are adding in all the challenge and social media averages, which seems like a bad idea. Don’t let those past numbers get involved, especially since Leila wasn’t even there for some of the challenges. If she competed in them, the viewers never got to see it. Is that fair?
Third place: Leila. Wow. Sucks to fall down twice! Sorry, luv.
Second place: Kiara.
Winner: Laura! She did dominate most of the season, partly with her extreme pageant tears.
Are you happy with these results? Do you like that they included the challenge and social media scores or should the judges have gone with their own judgements instead of making this so impersonal?
Know any guys or gals interested in applying for Cycle 20? Head here for details! Cycle 20 will reportedly premiere in the summer of 2013.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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