America’s Next Top Model” may be in its 14th season, but the hit show has yet to pick an Asian winner. It looks like Cycle 14 won’t be any different, since there was not one Asian face among the 32 selected for the semi-finals during the premiere, which aired last week.
In previous seasons, Sheena Satana and Jennifer An both came close to winning the Top Model crown (and with that a lucrative $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics, a six-page spread in Seventeen magazine, and representation by a top New York-based modeling agency). During Cycle 11, Sheena managed to make it to the final six, and was voted off the show for the trouble she had controlling her body and face during the “Planes, Trains and Slow Automobiles” episode. Jennifer fared comparatively better during Cycle 13, better known as the season for all models under 5’7”, by making it to the final four where she was eliminated alongside Erin Wagner.

While few would argue that Sheena and Jennifer are talented models in their own right, viewers may be left wondering why the Asian American model has become an anomaly not only on ANTM but also in the fashion industry. Sure, we do have internationally famous Asian models like Hye-rim Park, Liu Wen and Du Juan, but they arguably have not achieved the same household-name status as supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum and Gisele Bündchen.

In fact, designers may come up short even when they are looking to cast only Asian models. During the latest New York Fashion Week, Daniel Vosovic, a fashion designer and reality-TV alum himself, says that “it was a freaking struggle” to find 15 Asian models for his runway show.

The lack of viable Asian contestants on popular modeling shows like ANTM suggest either that not enough Asians are interested in breaking into the modeling industry or that Asian models are still not in high demand in the fashion world.

While there is no Asian model this season on ANTM, viewers still have many reasons to watch the show, like what comments (and criticism) the ever-fabulous André Leon Talley, editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, will bring to the table. Talley will be making his first appearance on the judging panel tonight on the CW at 8/7 p.m. central.

Photo courtesy of The CW