Are you ready for more catfights, catwalking and over-the-top photo shoots?
Cycle 16 of America's Next Top Model begins Feb. 23 (8 p.m. ET) on the CW with a set of 14 new beauties vying for a contract with IMG Models, fashion spreads in Vogue Italia and Beauty in Vogue a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics.
– Dahvi Shira
After being taunted while growing up for being unusually tall and ultra skinny, Ann Ward was crowned of America's Next Top Model this week.
The 6-ft., 2-in.-tall 19-year-old from Dallas spoke with PEOPLE about dealing with the backlash over her shockingly small waist (runway coach Miss J was seen fitting his hands around it in a controversial promo), how she wants to inspire other girls to feel comfortable in their own skin, and what's next for the formerly painfully shy Texas girl.
What does winning Top Model mean to you?
Being America's Next Top Model is really awesome, because I really like being an inspiration for people. I've been getting messages on the Internet about how I've helped people get through something they were going through, like bullying, so I'm really excited about people being able to look up to me through the struggles they're going through.
"Do you understand how serious this is? This is Top Model – elevated," Tyra Banks emphasized to the finalists on Wednesday's show, referring to cycle 15's superior prizes, including a spread in Italian Vogue, and the presence of big-name designers like Robert Cavalli.
Despite its heavily promoted "elevated" status, the Top Model finale competition pretty much remained the same. Finalists Ann (whose super-slim, 6-ft., 2-in.-tall frame was the subject of controversy) and Chelsey (the blonde, gap-toothed beauty with modeling experience) had to do a print-ad photo shoot for Cover Girl, film a commercial for the cosmetics giant and walk a runway show for Just Cavalli. Then, as usual, Tyra took her time critiquing the ladies' work and announcing the winner.
Before Wednesday's finale of America's Next Top Model, the show's host, judge and head diva in charge, Tyra Banks, spoke with PEOPLE about the final two contestants.
Supermodel, producer, photographer, actress, Emmy-winning talk show host, reality-show judge, novelist and businesswoman – Tyra Banks seemingly can do it all. But on Wednesday's episode of America's Next Top Model, she's doing even more.
Banks will step behind the camera to direct a two-minute film featuring the show's final four contestants – Ann, Chelsey, Jane and Kayla.
"A lot of designers and people in the fashion industry are feeling like the future of fashion is not just still photos, but they've been doing mini movies where the models are acting things out," Banks, 36, explains.
Tyra Banks is finally responding to a growing controversy surrounding an America's Next Top Model promo featuring a 6'2" model with a shockingly small waist.
"In an effort to create a fun and entertaining sneak peek of the upcoming cycle, America’s Next Top Model released a trailer that was edited in way that misconstrued our overarching message," Banks says in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.
"As a leader in celebrating and promoting healthy body image, I must admit that I regrettably didn’t see this clip before it was released to the public, (with multiple Top Model departments, it's just impossible to review everything) but on behalf of the Top Model team, these were not the intentions, and we truly apologize for any confusion, anger or disappointment it may have caused," the statement continues.
After auditioning for 12 consecutive cycles, Krista White was finally named America's Next Top Model Wednesday evening. Although the 25-year-old Arkansas native wrapped shooting in December, she tells PEOPLE it still hasn't hit her that she won the show. "I still feel really, really regular," she says.
That may be because after Krista won cycle 14, she went right back to work as the manager of a clothing store.
"As soon as I came back from New Zealand, I went right back into going to work," Krista told PEOPLE over the phone en route to a meeting with Wilhelmina Models. (She nabbed a contract with the agency as part of her winnings.) "I still feel like myself, so going back to work was a breeze. I was still being the boss like I normally would."
Now that her victory has been announced to the world, Krista says she's ready to hit the ground running. She already had a list of career goals that includes modeling, acting, mentoring young and running her own talk show.
The determination finally paid off for Krista White, 25 -- who previously auditioned for America's Next Top Model 12 consecutive cycles in a row -- as she was named cycle 14's winner on Wednesday's episode. The Palm Bluff, Ark., native went stiletto-to-stiletto with finalist Raina Hein, 22, in an Anna Sui fashion show in New Zealand before sweeping the title.