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'America's Next Top Model' casting call draws hundreds in Tampa

TAMPA — With dreams of hearing those magic words from Tyra Banks, young women of all styles lined an Ybor City sidewalk for a casting call for the reality show America's Next Top Model.

The words they longed to hear: "You're still in the running towards becoming America's next top model" — prompted the earliest arrivals to camp out in front of the Ritz theater Tuesday afternoon. By the time the doors opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the crowd had swelled to the hundreds.

Christa Lee, 22, of Land O'Lakes arrived at 7:30 a.m.

"I will be America's next top model. Remember that. I'm not being cocky, I'm being confident," she said.

Lee is a devoted fan of the program, now recruiting for its 14th cycle. "I spend more time watching Top Model than going to church," she said. "I go to church one hour a week. I watch Top Model eight hours a day."

LaDedra Williams, 26, stood in line with her mother, who took the day off work to accompany her daughter to her fourth audition for the show.

"We're going to give it another chance," said Deborah Williams, 51. "When they say there's an audition, we're going."

The local CW affiliate, WTOG-Ch. 44, hosted the tryouts. Three photos and a questionnaire that covered everything from family relationships to restraining orders, nude beaches and religion, got the hopefuls in the door. They appeared in groups of 10 before two judges, Miss Tampa Lindsey Bolender and WFLZ (93.3 FM) DJ Katie Sommers, who interviewed the contestants and determined which ones could move on.

The last round included taping the would-be models showing off their runway walk and answering questions about how far they'd go to be America's next top model.

Those tapes will be forwarded to the show's producers.

Felicia Postell, 19, of Clearwater was among more than 100 girls who made the cut.

"Oh, my God. I'm so excited. I'm trying to hold it in because I don't want to look like a crazy person," she said.

Wearing gray gym shorts, a yellow tank top and flat sandals during her taped interview, she said she paid little attention to her competitors outside.

"I didn't really look at them because I don't care," she said. "I have to win."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com.

'America's Next Top Model' casting call draws hundreds in Tampa 07/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 11:31pm]
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