Who’s gonna be on top? The America's Next Top Model Cycle 19 finale airs this Friday, November 16, and we’re down to the final three: Kiara Belen, Laura James and Leila Goldkuhl. It’s anyone’s prize to win at this point, and we’re sharing arguments for each girl. Here are five reasons Kiara could smize her way to victory.
1. She's the challenge queen
Kiara didn't win all the challenges, but she won some of the biggest, including the Tyler Perry challenge, the Alicia Keys challenge, the dance competition (with Nastasia Scott), and the Jamaican tourism ad. When she's asked to be entertaining or do public speaking, she shines. That's an important part of the all-round big picture of what ANTM looks for in a model. Plus, she can walk! The Alicia Keys challenge involved a runway, and Kiara also booked a job with one of the designers during the go-sees. The final challenge involves another runway walk, and a wonky walk helped send Leila out the door the first time. This could be Kiara’s opportunity to edge out a frontrunner.
2. She has an inspiring story
Kiara was a standout right on the premiere, partly for her eloquence but also for her triumph-of-the-human spirit backstory. The basketball player was abused her whole life, ran away from home at age 16 and got a fellowship to college. She wants to be a great role model for girls. Her lack of support from her mother has come up a few times this season and may have led to her trying a little too hard to play the mother hen role with Victoria Henley. But ANTM loves a phoenix rising from the ashes story like Kiara's.
3. She's ending strong
Kiara had a promising start, but after the first episode, she started to get into little tiffs, first with Destiny Strudwick and in a different way with Victoria, who called Kiara "pushy and abrasive." She does seem to have a big, dramatic personality, but ANTM loves models with passion. Kiara did well in challenges, but her photos weren't that memorable and the judges kept saying the fans at home weren’t responding to her. Now fans seem to be warming up to her, she’s taking good photos, getting her first call-out last week, and finding her rhythm right when Laura seems to be faltering a bit. It's better to start slow and end well rather than start fast and peter out.
4. She made a couple of friends in the house
A lot of reality TV contestants say they are not there to make friends, blah, blah, blah, but even though Kiara had some disagreements with other models, she also made enough friends to be invited to The Tyra Suite with both Nastasia and Leila when they won best photo. Kiara seemed to embrace Leila’s return, unlike Laura and Kristin Kagay, and Nastasia told Wetpaint Entertainment in her exit interview that she’s rooting for Kiara to win because she’s closest with her and they still keep in touch.
5. The judges liked two important photos
Tyra Banks loved Kiara’s warrior princess photo so much she said she would hang it up in her own home. It doesn't get bigger than that! But the judges also liked her Dream Come True fragrance ad, which is important since that's the actual ad they'll be using for the winner. Leila got the highest photo scores for that, but the judges said Laura's shot was too sexy. Tyra was pleasantly surprised by Kiara's soft, vulnerable, romantic photo. That's something the judges could discuss in their final panel and decide to tip in Kiara's favor, if it comes down to Laura vs. Kiara. If it's Kiara vs. Leila, they can always go back to the fact that Leila wasn't even around for almost half the season.
Find out why we think Laura will win and why we think Leila will win.
Catch the next episode of America's Next Top Model Cycle 19: College Edition on Friday, November 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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