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America’s Next Top Model Cycle 23 Premiere: Sorry Rita Ora, Tyra’s Still Queen

America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 premiered on Dec. 12, after fans thought the show have ended in 2014. There have been so many changes to this new cycle, including Tyra being replaced by British singer Rita Ora as host. Get to know the 28 aspiring models who came together to compete being this year’s next top model.

America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 premiere: New host and judges

The first episode also brought in major changes including iconic ANTM host Tyra Banks being replaced. Now, Rita Ora is the face of the show with new judges to boot. This time, the judges’ panel includes host and head judge Ora, Paper magazine CCO Drew Elliott, supermodel Ashley Graham, and celebrity stylist Law Roach.

The premiere headed back to its roots in New York City with 28 young women in hopes that they have what it takes to be America’s Next Top Model.  In the end of premiere, the top 14 contestants were revealed.

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America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 premiere: Get to know the Top 14 contestants

Heavy reports the list of the lucky girls who made it through the first round of elimination:

  • Cory Ann Roberts — 5’10” 19-year-old from Bali, Indonesia
  • Binta Dibba — 5’10” 25-year-old from Seattle, Washington. In the episode, she exuded much confidence saying she will win ANTM cycle 23
  • Courtney Nelson — 5’7″ 25-year-old from San Francisco, California
  • Cody and Tasha Wells — Identical twins who are both 5’10” and 27 years old hailing from San Jose, California
  • Giah Hardeman — At 21 years of age, she stands 5’8″ from Bryan-College Station, Texas
  • Paige Mobley — 22-year-old model who stands 5’11” from Birmingham, Michigan
  • Marissa Hopkins — One of the youngest girls in the group at only 18, she stands 5’9″ and comes from Houston, Texas
  • Tatiana Price — 21-year-old model who stands 5’9″ and a Brooklyn native. Interestingly, she started her own skincare line called Skin Buttr and isn’t shy about promoting it
  • Kyle McCoy — A Darien, Connecticut native, she is 23 years old and stands 5’9″
  • Justine Biticon — She shared how she came from a “strict” family, but has always dreamed of being part of the show. Like Hopkins, Biticon is also 18 years old. She stands 5’9″ and comes from Panorama City, California
  • Krislian Rodriguez — At 25, she has her own swimwear line. She stands 5’9″ and is from Los Angeles, California
  • India Gants — 20-year-old model who stands 5’8″ and is from Seattle, Washiington just like Dibba
  • Cherish Waters — 25-year-old model who shared how she was made fun of for being the only redhead in her school. She stands 5’9″ and comes from Los Angeles, California

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America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 premiere: What branding do you speak of, Rita?

After the premiere aired, the show got mixed reviews especially from those who followed the show since day 1. While Tyra Banks left the front and center, she is still the show’s executive producer. Despite the huge changes after the last cycle in 2014, many people still clamor for more Tyra Banks, and well—less Rita Ora.

Vulture even reports that showrunners took a “misplaced” decision for cycle 23. While Ora is “huge” in the U.K., American TV viewers would easily consider her “a big question mark.” Moreover, there seems to be a huge disconnect with Ora proclaiming how “she knows how to sell, how to create a brand” and how see knows how to have “multiple ventures” along the way.

As far as loyal followers of the show are concerned, the new host of cycle 23 “lacks in supermodel know-how” which hopefully, the new judges can make up for. In fact, supermodel Graham followed Queen Tyra’s footsteps by being the first-ever plus-size model to grace the cover of Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit issue. In case you forgot, Tyra was the first African-American model to appear on SI‘s cover in 1996.

With the plethora of so many things brewing up on America’s Next Top Model cycle 23, fans can only hope or wish that the show delivers the same balance of entertainment as the previous cycles have.

Wanna be on top? ANTM airs Mondays at 10/9c on VH1.

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