As photos of an adorable little black girl in poufy pigtails flash across the screen, we hear a familiar voice say, "My mama thinks I was born to be a top model." As photos of a slightly awkward teenage girl appear, the voice says, "And somehow I got from this..." -- cut to an alien transvestite in a slutty gown and awful red weave working it on the runway -- "...to this." It's Tyra, everyone! More photos and footage of grown-up, supermodel Tyra. Wow, I never suspected she'd begin the season with photos of herself. It's so unlike her. And also, I have seen her Driven episode on MTV, and I know she has much more awkward teenage photos that she could share. "Are top models born or made?" she asks. "You're not born a top model, I could tell you that." Actually, you are telling us that, Tyra. "You have to work for it." We see photos of the last three seasons' winners, and Tyra says that they studied, struggled, and went all out to achieve their dreams. I guess Adrienne's dream was to throw back a few drinks with Mini-Me. Tyra tells us that thousands of girls sent in audition tapes, lobbying for a chance to "go from an unknown to a top model." Or, more accurately, from an unknown to a slightly lesser unknown. We see some faces that will soon become familiar. Tyra tells us that these girls had better work it, starting right now. And with that, a new season of Top Model commences. Yay!
We don't get the usual credits and commercial break, but rather jump right into the action. I would guess that it's because they don't want to spoil who the final fourteen are, except that the final fourteen have been on the UPN web site for weeks. One might say this episode lacks a little suspense. We are in Los Angeles, where the thirty-five semi-finalists arrive, and there is lots of stock footage of planes landing. We are introduced first to Noelle, twenty years old, from Reno, Nevada. She wears a faux shearling coat and tells us that she's "way excited." She says that she's ready to compete against the most gorgeous girls she'll ever see in her life. If she is to set the standard, one might not jump to any conclusions too quickly. The phrase "gorgeous girls" cues Kahlen, twenty, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, which might or might not be a sign. She looks supermodel-ish until she talks. She says she's a small-town girl who's never been to the crazy city of L.A. Next is collagen-lipped Brittany, age twenty-two, from Tallahassee, Florida. She says she's wanted to model "since day one" and will do whatever it takes to win.