1. She’s unique When you think about which finalists win ANTM, they’re usually models who stand out with unique looks. Ann Ward with her height and tiny waist. Whitney Thompson as the first plus-size winner. Nicole Fox with her red hair. Eva Pigford and her striking eyes. Sophie Sumner with her punk pixie look. Leila was memorable from the start, with her delicate features and gap in her teeth. She was like Kristen Stewart mixed with Kate Moss. In a lineup, Leila and Nastasia — with all that gorgeous hair — stood out from the crowd. Now that Nastasia is gone, the unique-looking model slot is taken by Leila.
2. She takes great photos Leila won the first best photo of the season and got the top score for last week’s Dream Come True perfume shot. Since that fragrance photo is going to be used for the winner’s ad, that’s big. (They didn’t like Laura’s photo too much, finding it too sexy for the brand. That could hurt her.) Leila struggled in some of the challenges, but she never really took a bad photo and some of her photos were memorably great — including her black-and-white shot with Rob Evans and her warrior princess waterfall shot. And even though we didn't see all of her shots on the show, we checked out her photos from during the weeks she wasn't around, and there's a reason fans voted for her to come back. She was a standout, especially in the Steampunk train shoot. She may not have taken as many best photos as Laura, but she’s more consistent than Kiara — and while Laura has been slipping in the end, Leila is truly owning her comeback status.
3. Everyone loves an underdog Leila had one bad week with the Alicia Keys runway challenge and cheerleader shoot (no one was that great in that shoot) and it got her sent home. We were shocked. A lot of fans were shocked. Bryanboy actually cried at panel. We were thrilled to see her return, and rooted for her to overcome the hater resentment of Kristin Kagay and, to a lesser extent, Laura. She’s now the underdog people love to support.
4. It would fit with the season’s theme Brit Sophie won Cycle 18’s British Invasion, and it would make sense for Leila to win this season as the poster girl for the social networking-led comeback challenge. Yes, the overall theme is a college season, but a college kid is going to win no matter what. If Leila doesn’t win, the whole comeback theme will have been something of a waste. And since fans voted for her to come back, they might get mad at ANTM for rejecting their choice.
5. The judges love her Bryanboy cried when Leila left because she was his favorite. She was one of Rob’s early favorites, too. Before the season started, Rob said, “We began filming with 30 girls and I spotted two girls early on who I liked and who both made it to the final, so I was happy with either of them to win.” Leila is probably one of those girls — and despite getting eliminated once, she’s back in her frontrunner spot. Once a favorite, always a favorite.
Stay tuned for reasons why we think Laura and Kiara will win the season.
Catch the next episode ofAmerica'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.