« All News

Search RealityWanted News











America's Next Top Model insiders spill it! Facts from Executive Producer Ken Mok, Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker, and Art Director of Photo Shoots Jay Manuel.

Posted on 03/28/2006 by RealityWanted in Americas Next Top Model

| More

By Jackie Helm

Here is the scoop from the first ever online press conference with the men of
America's Next Top Model.  For almost an hour, myself and others asked the
questions you've always wanted to know about our beloved Top Model reality
show.  Ken joined us by phone while Nigel and Jay were seated side by side and
handsomely live on my computer screen.  Jay reports that nobody believes that he
is 6'1".  Nigel pushes the big girls to attend auditions and subliminally called
Jay a "fairy". Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?  Answer:  Jayla was
most likely the cereal bar thief!

I was the first caller of the evening and asked if there has ever been talk
about letting America vote for the winner.  Jay Manuel stated that although it
would be interesting, the premise around the show is to have industry
professionals groom the girls.  It is their job to keep up with the forever
changing industry and to know where the business is actually going.

Nigel Barker agreed saying that America would vote for their favorite person and
not necessarily who would succeed as America's Next Top Model.

My next question was, "Do the judges know what goes on inside of the house and
does it affect the girls at panel"?  Nigel answers, "No".  He feels that one of
the great things about judging is that it is the only time that they see the
girls.  Therefore, they are not swayed by the girls' personal lives.  Nigel
explained that the result is an honest assessment of how the girls improve
during the week.

Ken Mok added that they are strict about keeping that line separate.  The juice
of the show comes through the girls' relationships with each other and the
personal drama that they go through.  They don't want the girls to censor
themselves or feel that they will be judged on personal behavior.

Jay says that he sends notes to the judges from the photo shoots but that is a
realistic practice in the modeling world.   He explains that all eyes are on the
model when performing.  "People such as hairdressers, stylists and directors can
report on how a girl was acting on the set."  Ken reminds us that the first
thing that Tyra does at judging is read Jay's comments on how the ladies
performed at the shoot and in their challenges.

The next caller/blogger asked Ken, "How do you decide who will become the
protagonist or the main girl who people tend to want to see win?"  Evidently the
Top Model casting department does not purposely cast divas and Ken Mok proudly
states that he has a Hollywood reputation for not "creating reality".  Ken
reports that not one competitor has complained about being misrepresented.  He
guarantees that fireworks will pop off when you put a number of focused,
ambitious young women in a high pressure environment.  They take a guess of who
the stronger personalities will be, but sometimes they are "flat wrong".  Ken
says that they get it every season and it comes from the most surprising folk.

The gents reflect back to when both Robin (cycle 1) and Camille (cycle 3) came
across as nice, well- mannered ladies at casting which became contrary to what
we saw behind the scenes.

Another participant, Stella, asked if Nigel thought the show would have lasted
as long as it did and what he thinks contributed to the show's success.

Nigel replies that people are fascinated with "celebrity" and the fashion
industry.  Viewers are not only watching as an indulgence but they are also
being educated on the industry because of the show.

Jay feels the show is a success as well because viewers can relate to the girls
for things such as being from a small town, having resembled looks or similar
life experiences.

Stella asked Jay, "How do you come up with the photo shoots' concept?"  Jay
replies and Nigel bows to him, "It's a collaborative effort...but it comes down to
a conversation that Tyra and I have; to raise the bar and keep it real."

The men were asked if a certain type of girl or "look" was trying to be achieved
for cycle 6.

Jay answers that every season you get a different batch of girls and that they
are looking for the cream of the crop - a great spokesmodel, both commercial and
high fashion.  Nigel summed it up with, "Face, walk and talk - someone who can
inspire us and be a muse in this industry".

Ken tells us that it comes down to the luck of the draw depending on the quality
of the girls who audition.  "Every season we have had a completely different
dynamic and unique set of girls.  This cycle is just as diverse and unique".

In order to come up with the criteria for a top model Ken reveals that they took
Tyra's career and broke it down into the elements that make up what Tyra Banks
is and why she became a supermodel.  He said, "You have to have a girl who can
hit all fields; editorial, commercial, runway, sparkling personality, articulate
and a spokesperson".

Rich asked if there were plans to release other seasons on DVD besides cycle 1.

Ken took this one on sharing with us that Viacom was not happy with the sales of
it (cycle 1).  He would like to see it happen because there are a lot of fun
extras on the DVD's.  He reminds us that VH1 bought the shows and every few
weeks we can see a top model marathon on that channel.  Jay Manuel said that
when out and about he and Tyra took a Sharpie and randomly signed a few copies
of the cycle 1 DVD's!

Nina was up next and she tells the guys that she's read that contestants have
claimed that their best shots were not chosen for their portfolios.

Jay answers, "We really do choose the best photo from the photo shoot for each
girl.  What is misleading is that they feel they did well but when they see the
photo they are surprised that it was not as good as they were expecting.  They
assume that we have picked something that is not as good.  As a model you have
to learn to feel what the best shot is.  They seem to think that if you feel
comfortable it will look good, but it is the opposite � if it feels awkward, it
looks better on film.  We try to tell the girls this all the time.  It is a very
fair judging panel and the reason I don't sit there is because I am there to
work with them and make sure that they walk into judging with the best photo. 
If they failed, I feel like I failed."

Nigel was asked, "When Tyra screamed at Tiffany were you horrified?  Nigel
replied with a simple, "Yes."

Deondra asked if there was a conscious decision to not have any big girls this
cycle.  The answer was "no" and that more plus size girls simply need to show up
at auditions.  The casting directors are told to look for those girls, not one
but even two or more.  The problem simply lies in finding really good plus size

Jay talks about Toccara having the opportunity to have won the competition.  He
said that it is about personality and having that "it" factor - not a particular
size.  Jay reports that the modeling industry is changing despite what Janice
might say.

Nigel informs us that he is only presented with the finalists.  He sends out a
word of encouragement for the plus sized girls to believe in themselves and
"come out" (to casting).

Ken brings up plus sized Robin Manning from cycle 1 and states that she had a
strong shot at winning until she imploded toward the end of the show.   He says
that it's important to have diversity in ethnicity and size and that Tyra has
been the biggest one to push that issue.  He reminds us that we have seen Tyra
fight against the panel members, especially Janice, for the validity and
legitimacy of the plus size model.

Hillary asked if the show is successfully creating a next top model, just good
television or a combination of both.

Jay replied, "We are definitely looking for America's Next Top Model.  The thing
that people forget is that our show is filmed in secrecy � there is a cloud of
confidentiality around the show and CoverGirl doesn't even know who the winner
is until it's announced.  The fashion industry works 3-4 months in advance so
Nicole is working up a storm and Internationally but you won't see that for a
while.  The problem is that people start to focus on the next cycle and forget
to look for the past winners."

Nigel says the evidence speaks for itself and explains that non winners still go
on to take it to the next level and utilize the gifts they have been given on
the show.

Jay adds that a lot of girls forget that when you win you will have instant
notoriety.  "You win the right to work in this business.  You have to work and
you can't sit back and expect it to come to you.  Even as a top model and other
huge supermodels still have to get out there and are vying for major campaigns. 
It's a business.  That is what the business is about."

Nigel said that he had Yaya on his set the other day.  Neither of them knew they
would be working together.  The agent who booked Yaya was unaware that she had
been on ANTM and they were excited to see each other.

Susan asked if they would prefer to work with someone who is stunning on film
but difficult to work with or vice versa.

Jay answered, "Both - but strongest on film."  Nigel added, "Although I chastise
them for having a slick tongue, I am really looking for someone who can

Susan reflects back to red afro, bad attitude Brandy and remarks that she
wouldn't spend five minutes with her.  Jay said that Brandy was not eliminated
for having an "attitude".  The fact is that her attitude translated into the
photos giving them an angry look, and that is not what they were looking for.

Nigel tells us that he often works with nuisances, but he has them back because
they did such a good job.  "In the long run if you are nice and polite and can
deliver, that is what is going to make you a top model."  Susan suggested that
after stating this they should expect a bunch of divas for cycle 7.  Nigel
boldly replied, "Bring it on."

One caller mentioned that cycle 6 has a "fairy tales come true" theme
circulating and wondered if the challenges and photo shoots focus on that theme.

Jay's answer was, "No. I think this whole show and the way it's exploding is a
type of fairy tale coming true and that is how they came up with the tag line. 
But it will not be based around that theme."

Nigel added, "I think that I would be lying if I said that there weren't any
fairies in the show."

Rolling his eyes Jay says to Nigel, "That is such a bad joke I am not even going
to address that."

Nigel tries to clean it up stating, "Young girls want to grow up and be
princesses and models and successful so what the show does is deliver a lot of
that.  It helps make those dreams come true."

Jay asks Nigel if that was his goal (the actual meaning of his fairy joke). 
Nigel replied in a devious but playful manner, "Ya, that was my goal."

Caller Brandon reports that he has heard some very "anti-Tyra" comments come
from the mouth of Cycle 1's winner Adrienne Curry.  Brandon asks if anyone has
heard these insults.

Ken takes the floor and explains that the first season of America's Next Top
Model "fell under the radar".  It lacked the sponsors, big prizes and fashion
world involvement.  He states that it was harder for people to get work in the
beginning and "we felt badly about that".  Ken reports that he and many people
from the show bent over backwards trying to help Adrienne succeed.  Despite her
struggle she is doing well now.  He mentioned Adrienne's stint on VH1 shows as
well as her engagement to Chris Knight (a.k.a. Peter Brady).  Nigel remarks that
none of that would have happened had she not been on ANTM.

Jay adds, "You have to want this career and Adrienne wanted it.  I have been on
the phone with Tyra and Adrienne and tried to help guide her but in the end she
is the one who made her decisions."

Ken says that one thing that America's Next Top Model does is present the winner
with a great opportunity as a kick start.  However, once it's given, it is a
personal responsibility for the models to take it and run.

Then I got my second call in.  I asked if there is an outlet or website that
gives current updates on the models.  I mentioned that at times we miss magazine
spreads or television shows that feature the girls simply because we are
uninformed.   The guys said that they are unaware of anything such as this.  I
asked Ken if I could be the facilitator of this idea.  The men laughed as Jay
said "Uh oh Ken, she is asking for a job!"

Lastly and most importantly the final caller asked, "Who took the granola bars?"
(Cycle 5)  Ken said that his best guess was that it was Jayla.  He said there is
no proof and no video but based on past behavior, Jayla was the guilty party.

Meeting adjourned.

Nigel Barker


Rate this article

  • Currently 0.0/5

Rating: 0.00/5 (0 votes cast) (Log in to vote!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Go back to the previous page