The competition show started in 2003, and its goal was to have models compete for the title of “America’s Next Top Model.” It was pretty successful since there are many contestants who went on to have careers in modeling, acting, and being a TV personality after the show.
Tyra Banks created and executive produced the show, which made perfect sense. Tyra started modeling when she was 15-years-old and got signed to Elite Model Management. She then became one of the few models that were referred to as “supermodels” along with Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and others. She walked the runway of coveted fashion houses like Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, and more. She also became the first African American woman to be on the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. Over time, she broke barriers and became a household name.
This was also all before the world realized she had an amazing personality that was perfect for television. She began acting, but her best projects were when she was just being herself. While hosting America’s Next Top Model she was able to be silly, sexy, and smart all at the same time. She also proved over and over why she was one of the best in the game through her own photoshoots and showed that modeling is a lot more work than people assume.
Now, the show is back and the hosting buck is being passed on to Rita Ora, which is a big misstep. Here’s why.
First of all, Rita is an actress and singer. She got some recognition in the U.K. in 2012 after her single, “Hot Right Now” was released. She has since been trying to have success in the United States as a singer and actress. Even if you believe her move was successful, it still has nothing to do with modeling. The contestants on this reality show need to have a host who is knowledgeable. After all, the host not only tells the audience what is going on, but typically guides what the judges are looking for in a winner.
Tyra might have been pretty crazy at times on the show with her rants and outbursts, but she always knew what people in the industry were looking for in a model, from attitude to being able to turn it on at the drop of a hat. She also was able to perfectly explain what qualities make a model to the show’s contestants and viewers. Tyra brought us the word “smize” and what it means to be high fashion.
Rita Ora is commercial and not high fashion. Rita’s history in fashion has pretty much just been through endorsement deals that she got from being a performer. She has walked the catwalk for designers such as DKNY during New York Fashion Week, but it was pretty evident that this was just a move to get more press for the designer.
This is totally different from being a model, given that she probably didn’t have to compete with other women for the job. She was most likely offered these deals because she already was well-known.
In America’s Next Top Model‘s first episode, the initial challenge was for the contestants to go on go-sees in order to win over designers. It’s pretty laughable for them to throw the contestants into the ring knowing the host probably never did this herself.
Also, Tyra always did the challenge photoshoots herself. This was a great way for audiences to see where the contestants stood rather than relying fully on the panel’s feedback. It looks like Rita Ora will not be showing by example, because again, why would she? She isn’t a model and her inexperience might show if she tried to come across as one.
Lastly, Tyra also brought drama and entertainment to America’s Next Top Model. She knew when to be dramatic by pretending to pass out in front of contestants before telling them they had to act. She got very attached to the contestants and sometimes that led to her iconic angry speeches when they did wrong. She made the judging part of the show more exciting than it already was because she made witty and silly comments. So far it doesn’t look like Rita Ora is anything like Tyra, which is fine. But she should be entertaining instead of just giving questionable advice. Hopefully, as time goes on she will come out of her shell and give us more personality.
It’s pretty evident that this shift in host reflects the sad change in the fashion industry. There are less “supermodels” today as there are many people who are famous on social media first, and a model second. They have explicitly said this while promoting the show.
“Instead of us finding a beautiful girl who takes a beautiful photo,” explained Ora to PopSugar, “it’s about finding a beautiful girl who can take a great photo and become a brand, have a following, and leave the competition being a threat to the Gigis and the Bellas. That, for me, is what we are trying to find.”
It’s sad but it’s the cold, hard truth. Models have already had to start competing with actresses in order to book commercials, covers of magazines, and even walk down the runway. Now, models are expected to bring their own following in order to boost interest in someone’s brand. Perhaps Rita Ora is supposed to represent that but there are so many others like Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne, and more, who still have more fashion experience than Ora and would be a better fit.
The saving grace of the show perhaps is Ashley Graham. She is known first and foremost for being a model. This includes being signed to Ford Models, rocking lingerie for Lane Bryant, and making her way onto magazine covers. She is also breaking barriers by shifting how plus size models are viewed in the industry, just like how Tyra changed how black models were viewed.
Ashley has also been able to make a brand for herself, and has crossed over into the mainstream by appearing in music videos and more. It’s a mystery as to why she isn’t the host rather than just a judge. Back in the day Tyra had Janice Dickinson, but they were both equally qualified. It’s pretty apparent that when Ashley gives advice to the contestants it’s coming from a place of experience. She has even done the nude photo shoot before the models in order to lead by example à la Tyra. Hopefully this means that where Rita’s lacking, Ashley will pick up the slack and maybe take over in the future.
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