Binta Dibba, of Everett, and India Gants, of Bellevue, knew one another going into the show, which premieres on Monday, Dec. 12.
“America’s Next Top Model” returns — on a new network, with a new host — and two Seattle-area women are among those competing for the show’s $100,000 and modeling-work top prize.
Binta Dibba, 25, of Everett, and India Gants, 20, of Bellevue, knew one another going into the show. Both work with Seattle’s SMG (Seattle Models Guild) agency, which offered each a shoulder to lean on.
“Yeah, it was pretty cool, actually that we had this weird connection from the beginning,” Gants said. “It was like, no matter what, we’ve got each other, and you’ll see that in the episodes. We have each other’s backs.”
‘America’s Next Top Model’
When: 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12
“ANTM” previously aired on The CW with Tyra Banks as host. VH1 picked up the reality competition with Banks on board as an executive producer but no longer as host, though she does make a cameo appearance in the premiere (10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12).
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Singer/actress/entrepreneur Rita Ora now serves as host with a new panel of judges that includes supermodel Ashley Graham, Paper Magazine chief creative officer Drew Elliott and celebrity stylist Law Roach.
The premiere episode features a culling of the contestants from 28 to 14. Both Seattle women earn praise early in the episode when they visit New York designers.
“Binta exudes confidence and sensuality,” says designer LaQuan Smith.
Ora says of Gants, “I see an all-American girl next door, but I feel there is something we might need to know.”
Dibba grew up in The Gambia, Africa, and moved to Seattle at age 13 to live with her father, Amadou Dibba. A 2010 grad of Mariner High School, Dibba attended Western Washington University studying business management but felt she needed a break from school around the time she approached Seattle modeling agencies seeking representation.
“I got denied by all of them the first time and then I was sad,” she said.
One agent encouraged her to tone her body, so she worked out and then went back to the agencies and got picked up by SMG in 2013. She describes her look as “very common in Africa, very unique in the United States.”
“The sports industry was interested in me, the fashion industry liked my look, too,” she said.
Dibba worked with Nike and Amazon and did a runway show for Seattle designer Luly Yang.
She first applied to be on “ANTM” in 2013 and re-applied early this year.
“I wanted to be noticed,” she said. “It’s a platform for people in the industry, a way to get to the next level.”
For Gants, a 2014 Newport High grad, it was encouragement from her parents, Colin and Colleen Gants, that paved her path to “ANTM.”
“I was having second thoughts, worries that I’ll ruin my reputation. Will I be the bad girl? Will my modeling career go in another direction?” Gants recalled thinking. “They said, ‘Oh my gosh, if I had the chance to go on a reality-TV show, I’d do it in a heartbeat. When you’re old and wrinkly like us, you’re gonna wish you’d done it.”
Gants replied to a casting notice she saw on Facebook and received a phone call a month later. In June she was picked for the show, which filmed in New York in July and August.
Now she’s working hard not to let slip to her three younger siblings how she fared on “ANTM” while feeling good about how she’ll come off on the series.
“I’m actually very thrilled with how I behaved on the show,” said Gants, who previously modeled in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Singapore and Los Angeles. “Coming out of the competition, I can say I’m friends with every single one of the girls. Already in the promos you can see I’m not involved in the drama. I’m proud of that.”