America’s Next Top Model winners who can’t find work today

“You wanna be on top?” America’s Next Top Model is a reality competition show that helps would-be models get their start in the fashion world. Helmed by supermodel Tyra Banks, ANTM (as fans call it) has contestants eat, sleep, and breath modeling with intense photo shoots, surprise runway challenges, and weekly judging by fashion big-wigs. Former ANTM judge Jay Manuel spoke about the show’s goals in a 2020 interview with Variety, saying, “Tyra’s vision was to put these young models in tough situations that they would have to deal with in the fashion industry … Girls shooting with a snake or shooting outside in a bathing suit when it’s freezing, that’s not crazy. That’s not out of the box. That’s something that would happen.”

ANTM has continually spewed out winners since debuting in 2003, awarding them modeling contracts with a big agency, prize money, and spreads in fashion magazines for their troubles. But, despite the show’s success, many of the winners have never achieved Tyra-level supermodel status. Some have stopped modeling completely. Whether they can’t get a modeling job or they don’t want to get a modeling job, here are America’s Next Top Model winners who can’t find work today.

America's Next Top Model Adrianne Curry fell out of the spotlight

Adrianne Curry was the first America’s Next Top Model winner in 2003. But her win wasn’t what she thought it would be. In a since-deleted Instagram post (via ET Canada), Curry lamented, “We were led to believe daily the winner would be instantly rich and a huge Revlon cover girl. This was a lie … they were never going to have us as a model.”

Curry did see minor success as a reality TV star. She appeared on the fourth season of VH1’s The Surreal Life and met Christopher Knight from The Brady Bunch. The two started dating and eventually scored their own VH1 reality show: My Fair Brady. They got engaged and married on-air, but ended up filing for divorce, as noted by E! News, and ultimately falling out of the public eye in 2011. Since then, Curry has not been able to find work as a model. She’s an Avon lady now, getting 25 percent commission on sales over $40. Curry’s Avon profile says that she “wanted to do something more fulfilling and completely different,” noting, “Realizing that she doesn’t need to live in Hollywood to accomplish this, she … decided to eschew the big city for the great outdoors.”

ANTM Cycle 10 winner Whitney Thompson owns a restaurant

Whitney Thompson was the first plus-size America’s Next Top Model winner, taking home the title in May of 2008. Though she beat out Fatima Siad and Anya Kop in the finale, Thompson hasn’t done much professional or high-fashion modeling. She describes herself as a “restaurant owner, travel enthusiast, vegan, animal lover, fashion fiend, and stone cold b****” on her website, curiously leaving out “model.” Could she not get a job? Perhaps. Or maybe she just decided to focus on her husband, son, food blog, and restaurant. 

Thompson, now using her married name Whitney Thompson Forrester, lives in Tennessee with her son and husband. She posts tons of vegan recipes on her blog, WhitneysWanders.com, writing, “I am a vegan (I went vegan in July 2017) so I will only post vegan recipes, but my ‘specialty’ so to speak is making vegan junk food … So, even if you are a carnivore, please make these recipes anyways because they are incredibly delicious!” She also owns and operates the Copper Vault, a Springfield, Tenn. restaurant that’s all about cocktails, live music, and small-town-charm.

Jaslene Gonzalez from America's Next Top Model Cycle 8 created her own work

Jaslene Gonzalez always wanted to be a model. According to the bio on her website, the Puerto Rican Chicago gal spent her teen years “posing in front of the mirror in my room, staring at inspirational collages of [supermodels] on my walls.” Her dreaming paid off when she won America’s Next Top Model Cycle 8 in 2007. She was awarded a cover and spread in Seventeen magazine, a contract with Elite Model Management, and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl Cosmetics, as noted by Insider. Gonzalez spent the latter part of 2009 modeling all around India, Malaysia, Honduras, and Thailand, and she even walked the Islamic Fashion Week runway for the king and queen of Malaysia. Gonzalez also had print success, posing in magazines like Faces, VOGUE India, EH!, Marie Claire, and ELLE magazine.

The ANTM winner eventually stopped modeling and instead parlayed her success into a modeling workshop business called On Set with Jaslene (OSWJ) in 2013. The business seeks to help amateur models “unlock their full potential” through personalized courses and webinars for a high-end modeling education. Those who can’t do, teach, right?

ANTM Cycle 5 winner Nicole Linkletter is focused on being a mom

Nicole Linkletter was 20 years old when she won Cycle 5 of America’s Next Top Model in 2005. Originally a small-town girl from North Dakota, Linkletter took home a $100,000 CoverGirl contract, a Ford Model contract, and a national Ford Fusion ad, according to Insider. She then went on to grace covers of Elle Girl in 2006 and Malaysia Marie Claire in 2009, and walk for major fashion designers like Bebe and Alice + Olivia.

But then she stopped modeling. She became a wife and mother instead. According to her Instagram page, Linkletter married Adam Nathanson, a creative director at a design and branding studio, in 2013. She had their first child, a son they named Theo Fitzgerald Nathanson, on July 20, 2016, and then had their second child, Olive Nathanson, in November 2019. Whether or not she chose to stop modeling or wasn’t able to get a job, Linkletter’s social media is full of adorable baby pictures and family bike rides as opposed to high-fashion photos.

McKey Sullivan, who won ANTM Cycle 11, is all about her MMA husband

Britney “McKey” Sullivan edged out Samantha Potter and Analeigh Tipton for the top model title in America’s Next Top Model Cycle 11. The then 19-year-old famously changed her name from “Britney” to “McKey” at Tyra Banks’ behest, but she told TV Guide that she didn’t mind the change since “McKey was what my mom was going to name me when I was born.” As part of her prize for winning, Sullivan signed a contract with Elite Model Management, appeared on the cover of Seventeen magazine, and signed a contract with CoverGirl Cosmetics. But she really hasn’t modeled since. 

Sullivan seems to spend her time raising her family and supporting her UFC-star husband’s career. Her Instagram bio reads, “Mom to 5 awesome kiddos, wife to @smilensam, cycle 11 winner of America’s Next Top Model, MMA enthusiast, and [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] practitioner.” The former model’s switch from modeling to kicking isn’t anything new, as she told TV Guide, “I used to be a tomboy and play about every sport under the sun.” Her exit from modeling appears to be by choice.

Teyona Anderson has focused on family since winning America's Next Top Model

Teyona Anderson won Cycle 12 of America’s Next Top Model, narrowly beating Aminat Ayinde and Allison Harvard in 2009. The then-20-year-old girl from New Jersey took home the standard prize package: a contract with Elite Model Management, a fashion spread and cover in Seventeen, and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics. She changed her professional name to Teyona Asia Anderson, or Asia Anderson for short, according to Insider, and spent several years working as a model. Her most notable credits are walking in South Africa Fashion Week and Arise Cape Town Fashion Week.

But after that? Not much modeling work. Whether or not she chose to take off her stilettos in favor of more kid-friendly sneakers, Anderson appears to be first and foremost a mom. She praised her son a 2018 Instagram post, writing, “Happy 1st Birthday Anderson Nash! You are the happiest person, just radiating joy everywhere you go. I couldn’t be more excited to be your mom and watch you grow. Momma loves her Andy!”

Ann Ward from America's Next Top Model Cycle 15 is a self-employed artist

Ann Ward is the America’s Next Top Model winner from Cycle 15. Ward, originally from Texas, was only 19 when she won in 2010. But she caused a stir even before she took home the title. The judge’s response to her height and tiny frame made headlines. In an infamous episode, as reported by New York Daily News, judge Miss J Alexander wraps his hands around her waist while Tyra Banks exclaims that she has “the smallest waist in the world.” After winning a modeling contract, $100,000 CoverGirl Cosmetics contract, and an Italian VOGUE spread, Ward told Us Weekly that she was going to “invest in my career … Like, going to New York or wherever they want to take me. I don’t want to blow it.”

But that modeling career never took off. Rather than find work as a model, she’s a self-employed artist. Her Esty shop has sold anime and comic-inspired art that’s up for sale, though there’s nothing for sale at the time of this writing. Ward’s Instagram bio describes her as a “concept artist,” “character designer,” and “animator,” which makes sense considering her online portfolio offers up character designs, sketches, and even a 2D animation reel.

Since winning America's Next Top Model, Brittani Kline has concentrated on school

Brittani Kline won America’s Next Top Model in 2011, when she was 19. She beat Hannah Jones and Molly O’Connell in the race for the title, spreads in Beauty In Vogue and Vogue Italia, a contract with IMG Models, and a cover of Beauty In Vogue (via Insider). Kline did well for herself after winning ANTM, booking big modeling gigs like Prabal Gurung’s spring 2015 and Balenciaga’s resort 2015 fashion shows as well as a spread in Vogue Mexico and an editorial in Elle Vietnam, as reported on her personal website.

These days, Kline, who had one of the best America’s Next Top Model makeovers, is too busy being a mom and a student to work as a model. She had a son named Rowan in August of 2017, often posting about him on her Instagram page. Kline also went back to school. She made the announcement on her Instagram in August of 2019, writing, “I also made the decision to start grad school this fall through @pennstateworldcampus and am excited to dive deeper into the world of strategic communications. I know at the beginning of the year I said I was going to focus on creativity, but I am pivoting.”

Jourdan Miller from Cycle 20 of America's Next Top Model filed for bankruptcy

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 was a bit different: America’s Next Top Model: Guys & Girls was the first season to feature both male and female models. But that didn’t stop Jourdan Miller from taking the top model crown, beating out two men (Marvin Cortes and Cory Hindorff) in the finale. Miller won a $100,000 Guess campaign, an eight-page spread in Nylon, and a NEXT Model Management contract. She spoke about her post-win plans in an interview with The Star in 2014, saying, “I am just so happy and am ready to take on the world, and this is the first step in my career. But I want to grow beyond ANTM and become an icon like Tyra Banks.”

But her plans did not pan out. She filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November of 2015, claiming to owe $28,451 but only having $16,640 in assets and nothing in her bank account, as reported by the Daily Mail. According to her Instagram page, she still models, though we’re not sure how much work she finds.

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