Tonight, when the long-running reality television show “America’s Next Top Model” cycle 21 hits the airways, there will be an Ardmore native among the 14 contestants.
Plainview graduate Andrea “Shei” Phan secured a spot on the modeling competition hosted by well-known supermodel Tyra Banks. As a fan of the show for years, the 23-year-old always envisioned herself participating in the photo shoots, living in the house, gaining feedback from the panel of judges and hearing the shows’ hosts say her famous line, “you’re still in the running towards becoming America’s next top model.”
“I always thought ‘I could do that,” Phan remembers of watching past seasons. “I tried out once before, when I was 17. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it...this time around, when I got a call back and was asked to keep auditioning, I kept thinking ‘this isn’t happening right now. I can’t believe it.’ It was really exciting to make it on the show.”
“America’s Next Top Model” first premiered in 2003. The show calls for young persons with a desire to become a professional model to compete for cash prizes and modeling contracts. During each episode, the contestants are challenged in various ways such as practicing a model skill, undergoing a professional photo shoot and challenges presented by Banks. At the end of each episode, a panel of judges reviews the contestants accomplishments and troubles for the week. The contestant who performed the weakest is eliminated.
In cycle 21, the second season to feature both males and females, contestants are competing for a $100,000 cash prize from GUESS and a modeling contract with Next Model Management.
Phan, who is an artist with plans in place to begin her own clothing line, says she was drawn to the show because of her artistic background and a chance to discover being creative in front of the camera.
Fans of the show will see her as unique, Phan says.
Phan’s lineage includes Vietnamese and Native American decent. Having been a fan and closely watched for many seasons, Phan entered the competition with a desire to learn as much as she could from the judges and photographers. Listening closely and taking judges’ and photographers’ words of advice, is key to success on the longest-running show on The CW network, Phan says.
Win or lose, Phan says she feels blessed to have the experience to work with a top supermodel and get a glimpse into the world of high fashion.
“For me, to go on this show was an amazing experience,” Phan says. “I would never be able to do something like this in normal life. I felt like a kid in a candy store at every photo shoot and every challenge.”
Phan says her humble personality is one of the reasons she landed a spot on the upcoming cycle, which had casting calls in more 30 American cities. For her initial audition tape sent, Phan was dressed in a go-go dancer costume.
“I really am a goofy person and I get along with everyone,” Phan says. “I like to have fun and I think people will see that (when they watch the show).”
Phan says her mother, two brothers, along with aunts, uncles and a host of cousins live in Ardmore. She hopes many in her hometown, as well as the state, tune in to support her.
She is the first contestant from Oklahoma.
“Never give up on your dreams,” Phan says. “Anything is possible no matter where you come from. Stay beautiful, stay humble and stay creative.”
“America’s Next Top Model,” premieres at 8 p.m. tonight on The CW.