America's Next Top Model/Characters/Cycle Eight

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Jaslene Gonzalez

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Jaslene was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Humboldt Park, Chicago, where attended Notre Dame High School for Girls in Chicago. She was an online college admissions advisor prior to America’s Next Top Model.

Jaslene had done some modeling prior to America’s Next Top Model, having been represented by Avant Garde Models. In her CW “Close-up” interview, it was revealed that she appeared in fashion shows for local Chicago designers, including Michelle Gomez of Chicago and Alexis Arquette, as seen in local Chicago newspapers Extra and La Nota.

Jaslene said in her Seventeen interview that she had been in an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend; the relationship ended shortly before the filming of Cycle 7.

Jaslene tried out for Cycle 7, but only made it to the semifinals. Assuring the judges that she would be back for the next cycle’s audition, Jaslene’s determination caught the eyes of producers, who thought she had potential. She indeed tried out for Cycle 8 and this time made it to the finals. During the competition, Jaslene was called first at panel four times, and won one reward challenge. On the season finale, Jaslene was revealed as the winner. She is the second of three winners from Illinois, preceded by Adrianne Curry of Cycle 1, and followed by McKey Sullivan of Cycle 11.


Natasha Galkina

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Natasha was born and raised in Russia. She has admitted that while attending school in Moscow she was in a lot of financial trouble. But when she met her future husband, he brought her over to America giving her the chance to pursue her dream of modeling. Natasha started out as one of the weakest contestants in the competition, narrowly avoiding elimination in the second episode. But after being given the chance she proved herself and soon became one of the strongest in the competition. Her optimistic attitude and ability to take a strong picture bought her a spot in the final two, along with Jaslene Gonzalez. But in the end, Jaslene was crowned ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and Natasha was named runner-up.


Renee Alway

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Renee was born and raised in northern Michigan, where her father was a pastor and police officer. She revealed in the first episode of Modelville on October 8, 2008 that her father was physically and mentally abusive, and that her, her siblings, and her mother Sandra, were afraid to leave due to her father’s respected position in the community as well as his mental instability.

As one of the final three contestants on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, Renee heard about the audition for the show the day before it took place in Chicago, and had been in town to get married. She went to the audition four days after she got married.


Dionne Walters

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The 20-year-old college student from Montgomery, Alabama became the tenth girl eliminated from America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8. After making it to the final four, Dionne continued to struggle with softening her facial expressions during her shoot, and needed constant direction from Jay. During judging panel, the girls were asked who they thought had the most amount of Top Model potential, and Dionne was the only girl to not say herself. Before eliminating Dionne from the race to become America’s Next Top Model, Tyra asked, “If your path is rocky, and you don’t believe in yourself, who’s going to believe in you?”

In an interview with BuddyTV following her elimination, Dionne said her only regret was not letting Tyra know that she felt she was the best choice for Top Model, not Jaslene Gonzalez.


Brittany Hatch

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Brittany was working as a bartender in Savannah, Georgia when she decided to try out for the eighth season of America’s Next Top Model. When she was 14 years old, her mother brought her to New York City and had her meet with several modeling agencies, but Brittany was not at all interested. As an adult, a friend constantly encouraged her to pursue a career in modeling, and when the show made its casting call, Brittany took her chance, even though she had not watched a single episode of the show.

When Brittany became a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, she proved to be one of the strongest competitors. Each week, she had managed to produce impressive photos, but when she struggled to remember her lines during the CoverGirl commercial shoot in Australia, Brittany found herself in the bottom two. She attributed her poor performance to her short-term memory disorder, and was subsequently spared from elimination. Her fellow Top Model finalist, Dionne, accused her of using her condition to gain the judges’ favor, but Brittany defended herself and regarded Dionne’s accusation as mere ignorance. Ultimately, Brittany became the ninth finalist eliminated from the competition because she had done poorly during the “go-sees” and lacked the personality of a model.


Jael Strauss

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Jael is an aspiring model, who, prior to her participation in the eighth season of America’s Next Top Model, was working as a manager of several bands in Hollywood. She was also previously involved in band promotions in Detroit. She decided to try out for the reality show after a talent scout discovered her through her Myspace account. Other people close to Jael also felt she was a perfect candidate for the modeling competition. Despite making it to the finals, Jael admitted that she had not been a fan of the show prior to her participation and even thought that the competition would be easy.

For her first shoot as a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, Jael was asked to embody the pro-life political view. Her performance spared her from elimination, and she continued to impress the judges until the seventh challenge, where the finalists were asked to relive the most memorable moments of the series. Jael was tasked to mimic Cycle 4’s Rebecca Epley’s fall during the panel evaluation, but she was criticized for appearing too mechanical. She landed in the bottom two with Whitney Cunningham, but was spared from elimination again when the judges decided to send Whitney home. However, her performance on the CoverGirl commercial the following week failed to impress the judges and she was consequently eliminated from the show.


Whitney Cunningham

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Whitney is an aspiring model and actress from West Palm Beach, Florida. Before she joined the eighth season of America’s Next Top Model, Whitney was a student and a basketball player at Dartmouth College. She had originally tried out for the show’s seventh season, but failed to make it to the semifinals. Thereafter, she decided to build her modeling career on her own and proceeded to work with various photographers in order to create her portfolio. Just before she was to return to school, the modeling show contacted her and asked her to audition for Cycle 8, where she successfully made it all the way to the finals.

During her brief participation in the eighth season of America’s Next Top Model, Whitney had been placed in the bottom three times before her elimination on week 6. Whitney expressed her disbelief regarding her ultimate status in the competition because she felt that she had done well with her photo shoot with Cycle 1 finalist Shannon Stewart. Her shock was also brought about by the compliments she received from Jay Manuel during the actual photo shoot (their conversation was edited out of the particular episode).


Sarah VonderHaar

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Sarah Vonderhaar, a native of Lake Zurich, Illinois, is not only a fashion model and a professional photographer in Chicago, but also a budding music artist. Her modeling career began when she was 17 years old, having been signed on by Elite Model Management. She was then asked to participate in America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 7, but only made it through to the finals during the show’s eighth season. Despite having done numerous acting jobs before America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, Sarah had been criticized for appearing too unnatural in her photos. Moreover, Sarah was accused of taking undue credit when she failed to thank her groupmates Dionne and Renee after she won the Sears clothing challenge. Sarah became the 6th contestant eliminated from the show, after the judges grew tired of her tendency to overpose.


Diana Zalewski

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Diana Zalewski is a college student from Garfield, New Jersey. Before she was on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, Diana had no modeling experience, although many had already told her that she was well-suited for the modeling industry. Eventually, she and her friend traveled to New York City, and after a few days, Diana was told that she had qualified for the semifinals.

She made it through the model boot camp and was selected to become one of the 13 finalists of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8. Diana was among the plus-sized models, and had tried her best to prove herself. However, during the fifth photo shoot, Diana had a difficult time posing and had received a constant barrage of criticism from Jay Manuel. Ultimately, Diana found herself in the bottom two with Whitney (who was also a plus-sized model), and was then eliminated for her lack of passion.


Felicia Provost

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Felicia Provost is a native of Houston, Texas and previously worked as sales associate. In addition, she has been trained in dance, and prior to being a contestant on the eighth season of America’s Next Top Model, had modeled in only one fashion show. She has remained friends with some of her fellow Top Model finalists, namely Dionne, Cassandra and Kathleen.

After relentless encouraging from her family, Felicia finally decided to AMTM during its eighth cycle. She had produced very strong photos in the beginning, but when she failed to deliver during the “crime scene” photo shoot, the judges abruptly put an end to Felicia’s journey to becoming the next winner of the competition. Her elimination greatly shocked Felicia, who was confident that despite her poor fourth set of photos, she would get to stay since her previous performances were stronger than the other remaining girls. Felicia was the fourth contestant to be sent home.


Cassandra Watson

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This 24-year-old college student is an aspiring model from Seattle, Washington. Before she appeared on Cycle 8 of America’s Next Top Model, she was in the middle of completing her tertiary education and had been modeling on a part-time basis with the Seattle Models Guild.

Cassandra auditioned for America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8 after a woman in a store where Cassandra was shopping approached her and told her that she would be a perfect candidate for the modeling show. For her makeover, she received a new Afro hairstyle (which she maintained for a few months after her exit), and did not mind posing nude for the third photo shoot. However, the judges expressed their disappointment over Cassandra’s third set of pictures, and subsequently eliminated her from the competition.


Samantha Francis

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Samantha Francis was working as a sales associate in Pinson, Alabama before she joined America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8. In addition, she didn’t have any professional modeling experience prior to her appearance on the show.

Samantha finally had to the courage to live out her life-long dream of becoming a model when her significant other urged her to try out for America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8 in Atlanta, Georgia. Although she successfully made it to the finals, she was not able to stay long in the competition, as she was the second girl to be eliminated from the show. For the second photo shoot, the remaining twelve girls were asked to pose as different high school stereotypes, and although most of them were able to pull off their assigned stereotypes, Samantha, along with her fellow Top Model finalist, Natasha Galkina, had a hard time bringing her stereotype to life. The judges decided to cut Samantha because they saw she lacked experience and personality.


Kathleen DuJour

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Before becoming a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, Kathleen DuJour was working as a hairstylist in Brooklyn, New York.

Kathleen was the first to be eliminated from the show despite her confident runway walk because the judges were disappointed with her inability to portray an anti-fur advocate in the politically motivated first photo shoot. Kathleen clearly had the most difficult time with the assignment, and had to keep asking for help from Top Idol judge and renowned photographer Nigel Barker. She could not grasp the “anti-fur” concept because she, in actuality, has no real qualms about the use of fur in clothing, to the dismay of PETA representatives.