For five seasons, America’s Next Top Model has unleashed memorable drama queens—the fainter, the preacher and countless divas. But what happens after Tyra Banks reveals that final photo? The five winners are keeping busy—but not always on the runway. Instead, they’re on reality shows or in supporting roles in films. Nothing wrong with TV and the movies, but will Top Model ever produce a top model? All of those who have won, says show producer Ken Mok, “have the potential to make a mark and, thankfully, most of them have done really well.” Says former judge Janice Dickinson: They haven’t “had time to prove themselves.” But, she adds, it takes more than time: “We need a personality like Cindy Crawford—boom, hair! Or Kathy Ireland—boom, sex! None of these girls have brought that.” Dethroning Gisele Bündchen isn’t really the point of ANTM, still UPN’s top-rated show and a guilty pleasure for millions. Each season, says Dickinson, “Tyra has enabled girls from the middle of nowhere to fulfill their dreams to some capacity.”
The first to nab Tyra’s title, her career got off to a rocky start: The Revlon contract she won led to only convention appearances—no print or TV ads. It proved a temporary setback for the former Joliet, Ill., waitress, however. In January ’05 she joined VH1’s reality show The Surreal Life. One castmate, Christopher Knight, 48 (a.k.a. Peter Brady, far left), is now Curry’s fiancé and costar in My Fair Brady, a series documenting their courtship, which begins its second season in May. After signing onto these shows, “I was ridiculed by Top Model staff for taking the easy way in terms of fame,” says Curry, 23 (below, on ANTM), who has since appeared in Playboy, Maxim and Lucky, and just wrapped the thriller Fallen Angel. “But it’s helped get my face out there. I’ve got a strategy.”
A self-professed fashion fanatic since birth, House auditioned for ANTM after learning that the winner would get a contract with IMG models. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! They represent Kate Moss.'” House, 26, has shot national TV and print campaigns for Sephora, Careline Cosmetics and AquaDrops and walked in shows, including Sue Wong in L.A. (above). Now the host of the Style network’s The Look for Less, House says she’ll never give up her first passion. “There is a cutoff age for certain projects,” she allows, “but look at Lauren Hutton—you’re never too old to model.”
Sashaying through every competition with attitude, Pigford, 21, earned the nickname Eva the Diva. Since her win, she’s graced the covers of Women’s Health and Fitness, King Magazine and Essence. The face of Ecko clothing and a spokesmodel for rapper Nelly’s Apple Bottoms jeans, she’s also booked runway shows like Deborah Lindquist at L.A. Fashion Week (left, and right on ANTM). The L.A. native launched her acting career with a six-episode arc on UPN’s now cancelled Kevin Hill, in which she played Taye Diggs’s love interest. She’ll appear opposite Wayne Brady in the August film Crossover, and in the upcoming drama Premium. Says Crossover director Preston Whitmore: “beyond Eva’s beauty, she has a sweet energetic spirit and a natural talent.”
Once a Mohawked waitress from Detroit, Mora, 22, has posed in magazines from Elle to TEEN PEOPLE and walked the runway for Christopher Deane and Carlos Miele in New York. She’s also donating time to charities like the Priceless Gown Project, which provides prom dresses to underprivileged high school girls. “I realized how much I could give to people,” she says. (One special beneficiary of her success: her twin sister, Nia, whose college tuition Mora is paying.) Like others, Mora hopes to move into film: “I’ve been auditioning a lot. We’ll see when I get that big break.”
“I feel like a regular model as opposed to America’s Next Top Model,” says Linkletter, 21, a former marketing major at the University of North Dakota. The spoils of her December win—a shoot with Tyra Banks (right), a layout in Elle Girl, a Cover Girl TV campaign and a contract with the Ford agency—led to an L.A. fashion week gig and an E! pre-Oscar show appearance. But, she says, the Tyra-fueled boon is starting to ebb. Now, she says, “I’m doing what everyone else is doing—going to castings. I’m very grateful for Top Model, and I’m sure it has helped me out a lot. But I feel like only I can book the jobs for myself at this point.”
AND A FEW RUNNERS-UP …
No titles, but these three also-rans are doing just fine, thanks. Yaya DaCosta can be seen with Antonio Banderas (left) in Take the Lead. Trained as a dancer, DaCosta, 23, says she’s “back to my roots.” Fellow Season 3 alum Toccara Jones, 24 (below), a plus-size model with Wilhelmina, went on Celebrity Fit Club in 2005 and lost 32 lbs.—and not an ounce more, she notes. “It gave me a platform to say, I’m 205 lbs. and I love it.” Leaving Season 1, premed student Elyse Sewell, 23 (right), declared, “I’ll be a doctor, not a top model.” Not so fast. After a year in med school, she signed with Hong Kong-based Model Genesis agency, appeared in that city’s fashion week and books jobs throughout Asia.