'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 24 Premiere Recap: Tyra Banks Returns and the Judges Choose 15 Finalists
'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 24 Premiere Recap: Tyra Banks Returns and the Judges Choose 15 Finalists
Jennifer Lind-Westbrook
Jennifer Lind-Westbrook
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
In the cycle 24 premiere of America's Next Top Model, titled "The Boss is Back," Tyra Banks returns and reveals the most diverse group of contestants ever, and the women compete for a spot in the Top 14.

America's Next Top Model is back, and so is Tyra. She wants to make it clear that she didn't create the show just to churn out models; she wanted to redefine the world's perception of beauty and empower women of all shapes, sizes and colors. Tyra announces the fight is real, and that's why she's back. (So all the negative viewer feedback regarding her absence during cycle 23 must not be a factor.)


Meet the Model Wannabes

Joining Tyra for cycle 24 are judges Ashley Graham (supermodel/entrepreneur), Drew Elliot (Chief Creative Officer of Paper magazine) and Law Roach (celebrity stylist/image architect). They've got one week to cut 26 down to the final pool of 14 women. Tyra drops the bomb that she's gotten rid of the age limit, which means the hopefuls range from 18 to "infinity." This year's motto is #NextLevelFierce, so expect to hear it a lot. 

Each woman goes before the panel, hoping to impress the judges not only with their looks but also with their sparkling personalities. All the contestants bring a picture that showcases their raw talent. 

Here's a quick run-down of who the judges consider to be next-level fierce:

Ivana, 24, just returned from China where she earned a Master's degree in global affairs. 

Khrystyana (I hope she gets eliminated early or has a nickname) is 32 and originally from Siberia. In her casting video, Khrystyana proudly shows off all of her stretch marks and cellulite. 

Shanice, 25, is from Tennessee. She's covered in tattoos, many of which were inspired by her oldest brother, who recently passed away from a heart attack. She's eager to prove to her mother that one of her kids can become somebody.

Liberty, 20, is from a very small, conservative town in Idaho. This girl is also pro-Trump. Neither Law nor Drew are fans of Liberty, calling her just a pretty face, but Ashley and Tyra see potential.

Christina, 34, comes in with some serious attitude, having already achieved some modest success as a model. She gives some serious back-talk to Law and gets schooled by Tyra, who says, "When you come in this room, my house, you respect my judges." Realizing she pissed off the HBIC, Christina dissolves into tears and blames her off-putting personality on nerves. 

Jeana, 24, suffers from an autoimmune disorder that makes her hair fall out. She's been accused of looking like a man because of the condition, and she says constantly proving her femininity is exhausting.

Maggie, 20, is from Maine and refers to herself as "white homegirl." 

Sandra, 22, is a Muslim woman who is proud to boast that she's a virgin who doesn't drink or smoke. 

Along with these apparent frontrunners, the following girls also make the cut:

Rhiyan, 20
Chrissy, 20
Erin, 42
Liz, 24
Coura, 24
Laminat, 22
Ilka, 25
Kyla, 20

The panel dismisses six girls, leaving 20 to compete for the final 14 slots. Obviously, if you do the math, there's some red shirts in the bunch who didn't rate high enough for us to learn their names.


Flower Power

The women head to Greystone Mansion in LA, which has been the site of many movies, television shows and fashion shoots. Celebrity stylist Nicola Formichetti provides the contestants with some avant "garden" couture pieces to wear since they'll be shooting outside. The pressure is on since anyone can be cut at any time.

We learn that Rio, 23, is someone to look out for. When she was 19, Rio was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She survived surgery and has a large scar on the back of her skull that she calls her "battle scar." Rio believes God spared her so she wouldn't waste her life.

Most of the women bring their A-game, but Erin, Sandra, Ilka, Christina and Laminat all struggle. Drew and Tyra look over the final pictures and decide it's time for a couple of the girls to go. Tyra cuts Laminat and Ilka.

Working the Runway and the First Major Meltdown

The remaining competitors learn that they'll immediately be walking in a fashion show wearing Nicola's designs. 

After working the runway, the women head to the model house. After counting the beds, they quickly realize there's going to be another elimination very soon. Liz is already melting down, and Khrystyana tries to console her but can't really figure out what's wrong. Liz wants everyone to know that she just feels "crappy." They try to get her to chill out, and she asks them to get out of her face.

The following morning, Tyra drops by to announce the final 14. She pulls back a huge red curtain, exposing the photos of the women who will remain in the competition.

Erin's photo isn't among them, and she packs her bag and heads out the door. Tyra gives her a hug, and Erin thanks her for the opportunity. But Tyra has a surprise for Erin. She pulls out Erin's picture from behind her back and reveals that there's going to be 15 girls. I'm not certain why Tyra felt the need to torture Erin, other than for ratings and to amp up the drama. The mother of five is too ecstatic to be pissed off. Tyra warns Erin that she's going to be judged even more harshly because of her age, so she's going to have to bring it. 

Here are the final 15:

Brendi K.
Christina
Coura
Ivana
Jeana
Khrystyana
Kyla
Erin
Liberty
Liz
Maggie
Rhiyan
Rio
Sandra
Shanice


Was it mean of Tyra to let Erin think she'd been cut? Does Erin really have a shot of making it to the end? Are you glad that Tyra's back? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

America's Next Top Model airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on VH1. Want more news? Like our America's Next Top Model Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of VH1)