America's Next Top Model Contestants Who Made It Big

"America's Next Top Model" has been a huge success ever since it first began airing in 2003. Its aim was to find a model that would one day be as big as the show's host, Tyra Banks. However, despite its gigantic fan base and its enduring popularity — during a 2020 interview with ABC Radio (via ABC News), Banks even teased the possibility of filming a 25th cycle  – there have not been a large number of success stories to come out of the series. Most of the contestants never reached Banks' supermodel status, and several have left modeling altogether.

However, a handful of women and men who appeared on the show have perfected their smize and worked tirelessly to make it big in the modeling world. Some of these former contestants weren't even crowned the winner of "America's Next Top Model," but they continue to walk runways for major high-end fashion brands, grace the pages of Vogue, and hang out with the likes of the Kardashians and Jenners. And, when they aren't modeling, they have used their reality fame to seek out other opportunities that have made them even bigger stars. 

These former "America's Next Top Model" contestants actually made it big and can thank the show for serving as their stepping stone to fame. 

Yaya DaCosta

Cycle 3 of "America's Next Top Model" saw Eva Marcille win the modeling competition, but runner-up Yaya DaCosta wouldn't leave the spotlight empty-handed. While Eva would go on to become a housewife on the hit series "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," Yaya found her true calling in acting. 

Yaya made her film debut in 2006's "Take the Lead," working alongside acting veteran actor Antonio Banderas. At the time, her only acting credit was starring in an episode of "Eve," but she proved that she was a serious actor after finding work in the soap opera "All My Children" and landing the role of Nico Slater in "Ugly Betty" in 2009. Yaya would continue to land minor television roles and would be featured in TV movies, but she really found her calling when she began playing April Sexton on the NBC hit series "Chicago Med" in 2015. 

Yaya's star just kept rising from there — in September 2021, she landed the lead role of Angela Vaughn on the Fox drama "Our Kind of People." Speaking to InStyle, the former model discussed her road to success, stating, "The only reason I was able to get as far as I have is because of the support of people who believed in me, and they were actually following my lead because I was betting on myself." It all led to her snagging that coveted lead role, of which she said, "It feels very big and also very right on time." 

Cassandra Jean Whitehead

"America's Next Top Model" fans might remember Cassandra Jean Whitehead for making the dramatic decision to walk off the competition over her hair makeover. During Cycle 5, Cassandra was visibly upset after learning that she would be getting her brown hair chopped off and bleached platinum blonde. 

After Cassandra left the competition, it appeared she left modeling behind, too. She found work as an actor, scoring minor roles on shows including "CSI: Miami," "One Tree Hill," "Mad Men," and "Arrow." She would end up finding love with "Arrow" actor Stephen Amell, and in December 2012, the couple married in a private ceremony in the Caribbean. As reported by Us Weekly, they would tie the knot for a second time in May 2013 in New Orleans, where they were surrounded by their friends and family members. The couple welcomed a daughter named Mavi that same year, per Just Jared, and are still happily married as of this writing. 

In 2018, Cassandra got the opportunity to work alongside her husband on "Arrow." She played Nora Fries in the "Elseworlds" crossover special, reprising the role one night later on "Supergirl." The following year, the former model landed a recurring role as Louise Truman in the television series "Roswell, New Mexico," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fatima Siad

Fatima Siad wasn't well-liked by the other aspiring models when she was a contender on "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 10. She did admit in a final interview on the show that most of the fights between her and the other women were "dramatized," but she added that she's "blunt" and doesn't "sugarcoat anything," which also made her one of the show's more memorable contestants. 

Fatima placed third in the competition but ended up having a very successful career as a model. According to The Cut, she signed with New York Models and walked the runways for Hermès and Dries Van Noten, which no other "America's Next Top Model" contestant has done before. Her Models.com profile states that she's appeared in runway shows for Ralph Lauren and Irfe, had a spread in Nylon Magazine, and was the face of Urban Decay cosmetics in 2016. Fatima also has over 130,000 followers on Instagram, where she's shared numerous modeling photos, including ad work for the high-end cosmetic line La Mer and an editorial shoot for Cosmopolitan España. 

Unlike many other past contestants who have ventured into acting, Fatima has stuck to what she knows best. In 2011, she shared with New York Magazine, "Now that I work as a professional model, I advise people to stay away from any television shows. It's a waste of your time; it's just entertainment. It's not the fashion that we now know." To each their own. 

Nyle DiMarco

Nyle DiMarco broke barriers on "America's Next Top Model" when he became the first deaf model to win the competition during Cycle 22. After his victory, Nyle landed work as both a model and an actor, snagging covers of magazines including Attitude and Paper and getting roles on the television shows "Switched at Birth," "Station 19," and "This Close," to name a few.  

Nyle would even land a spot on Season 22 of "Dancing With the Stars," where he ended up winning the mirrorball trophy with the help of professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd, per ABC News. Talking to People at the start of the competition, he shared, "I'm ready to take the world by storm and have them look at me and say, 'deaf people can dance,'" adding, "I'm surprising myself that I can actually dance. Peta, my partner, was also surprised that I can dance."  

Nyle has used his success to give back to the d/Deaf/HoH community. He's the founder of the DiMarco Foundation, which aims "to improve the lives of every Deaf person in the world," and he has started a production company that focuses on deaf and hearing-impaired filmmakers. "I think Hollywood is finally listening and becoming aware of the extreme lack of representation, but there is a lot of work still to do," he shared with L'Officiel, adding, "I believe that when people see other people with existing identities embracing another identity, it helps with their journey."

Leila Goldkuhl

Cycle 19 of "America's Next Top Model" saw model Leila Goldkuhl eliminated during the fifth week, but after winning a social media vote, she was brought back into the competition and ended up finishing in third place. Failing to win didn't hinder Leila's modeling career one bit — she has become one of the most successful top models to come out of the series. 

Leila made her runway debut at Givenchy's Spring 2016 show in New York. The fashion brand's creative director at the time, Riccardo Tisci, told CNN, "I promise you she is going to be the next big American star for sure." That same year, Leila became the face of Dolce & Gabbana. In 2017, the model walked in several shows for Fashion Week, including Nina Ricci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and Chanel. As for her print work, she has been featured in Vogue Italy and Harper's Bazaar, per The FMD, as well as ads for Calvin Klein and Givenchy. Her success as a high-end fashion model was recognized by Models.com, where she made its list of the top 50 models in the world. 

Leila has an impressive modeling resume, but would she ever consider going into acting like so many other former "America's Next Top Model" contestants? In a 2014 interview for Galore, she shared, "Acting isn't a priority for me right now ... I think it's something you really have to dedicate so much to. ... But of course, any opportunity that comes my way I'm willing to take a stab at."

Eva Marcille

Eva Marcille took home the title of Top Model during Cycle 3 of "America's Next Top Model," beating out runner-up Yaya DaCosta and doing it while being one of the shortest models to compete at 5'6"! Eva's winnings included a contract with CoverGirl and a spread in Elle magazine. She would later be featured in several other magazines, including Essence, Women's Health and Fitness, and King. 

Marcille would also venture into acting, landing roles on "Smallville," "The Young and the Restless," and "House of Payne." She even became part of the main cast of the 2015 series "Born Again Virgin." She also found work in reality television — Eva joined "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" for Season 10, per UsWeekly. She left the series after three seasons, telling E! that she wanted to focus "on other opportunities."

Eva did keep herself busy. In 2018, she launched a home decor line called FAB that featured bedding and pillows. "My goal is to give women an oasis with warm patterns and comfortable fabrics, for an easy getaway from life," she told People. The model found herself back on television when she landed her "dream role" in Tyler Perry's BET series "All the Queen's Men." Talking to ET about her role as Marilyn "Madam" Deville, she said, "This is like the role of a lifetime. This is a character who is allowed to be a little bit of everything, and oftentimes you don't see a woman do a multitude of things."

Lio Tipton

Lio Tipton knew that modeling wasn't their true calling even though they would place third on Cycle 11 of "America's Next Top Model." They once told the Daily Beast, "I  tried modeling, but I really didn't enjoy it. I showed up to most shows in Birkenstocks and T-shirts, and it just wasn't my world."

What would become Lio's world was acting, and in 2008, they guest-starred on the hit show "The Big Bang Theory." Three years later, they appeared in the film "The Green Hornet," which starred Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz, but their breakthrough in movies came when they were cast in 2011's "Crazy, Stupid, Love." This led to Lio landing a lead role in the 2014 television series "Manhattan Love Story," and they would find steady work in several films going forward, including "Lucy" and "Broken Star." Lio also snagged a part in "The Long Home," a film by actor James Franco. Its star-studded cast includes Josh Hutcherson, Josh Harnett, and Ashton Kutcher.

In 2021, Lio came out as queer and non-binary and took to Instagram to share the news with their followers. They wrote, "Hi. My name is Lio. My pronouns are they/them. I am proud to announce I am queer and I identify as non binary. I hope to give as much love and support back to those who continue to show love and support for the Pride community at large."

Winnie Harlow

Model Winnie Harlow has graced the covers of dozens of magazines, from Vogue India to Elle UK, and has walked numerous runways, including that of the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. She even teamed up with Kim Kardashian West for a KKW makeup collaboration and has modeled the reality star's SKIMS collection on Instagram

Those who were introduced to the model through the Kardashians might not know that she got her start on Cycle 21 of "America's Next Top Model." Harlow did not win the competition, but she has used her platform to speak about living with vitiligo and how she is changing the face of fashion. She shared with People, "Growing up, I never saw anyone like me on TV, billboards, or on the runways. I felt like I was the only person in the world like me." However, Winnie never gave up her dreams of becoming a model, and even though she told  "Watch What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen that "America's Next Top Model" "really didn't do anything for my career," she still managed to make her dreams come true.

In 2021, Winnie lent her expertise in the fashion business to the Amazon Prime Video reality television series "Making The Cut." The professional model joined forces with designer Jeremy Scott on Season 2 as a judge looking for the next up-and-coming fashion designer.  

Don Benjamin

Don Benjamin was part of the first-ever cycle of "America's Next Top Model" that featured both male and female contestants competing against one another for the coveted prize of a modeling contract. Benjamin placed eighth in Cycle 20, but his striking appearance was noticed by Wilhelmina Models, and he gained millions of fans on social media

Don's biggest modeling campaign has been with Guess. The model shared with Hunger that before he landed a spot on "ANTM," he had applied for a job there and was rejected. Fast forward to 2017, and Don could boast being "one of their main male models." But while he always has modeling to fall back on, his main passion is actually music. On his website, Don shares that the style of music he creates is "smooth rap," adding, "I spit bars with an R&B feel. I didn't want to do something typical. This isn't your average hip-hop." 

Not only is Don a model and rapper, but he also has a few movies under his belt and has starred in music videos for Ariana Grande and Keyshia Cole. On top of that, he's a published author — in 2020, he released an autobiography titled "My Truth." In an interview with Sheen, Don stated, "It's kind of like an autobiography but it's more so discussing my life, my journey, the mistakes I've made to get to this point in my life, and really just sharing my story to help men in the industry who are looking for a role model." 

Eugena Washington

Eugena Washington came in third on Cycle 7 of "America's Next Top Model" and admitted that she was happy she didn't win the series. She told Complex Hustle, "I didn't go in wanting to win. I went in wanting to get third because the winners, they get so branded in this whole top model brand, and I didn't want that, and I didn't want to come in second because you don't remember second," she said, adding, "Everyone remembers the third person."

Since appearing on the reality modeling competition, Eugena has worked for CoverGirl and Lexus, and she appeared in B.o.B and Bruno Mars' music video for "Nothin' On You." She found herself back in the spotlight after she was named Playboy's Playmate of the Month for December 2015, and in 2016, she was announced as the Playmate of the Year. Overjoyed with getting the chance to pose for Playboy, she shared, "In fashion, you're constantly working to portray someone else. Shooting for PLAYBOY, I had the freedom to be in my own element, without the constraints of clothing. It was one of the best shoots of my career. For once, I didn't have to be anyone except myself."

Eugena also has a big passion for beauty. She even launched her own product line called Faded Skin Care, which on Instagram is described as "Organic CBD Skin Care created to fight hyperpigmentation, combat breakouts, smooth texture, and promote glowing youthful skin."

Keith Carlos

Keith Carlos made "America's Next Top Model" history when he became the first male model to win the competition during Cycle 21. His prizes included a contract with NEXT Models, and he has been featured in dozens of print advertisements and campaigns for Nike, Guess, Macy's, and Bloomingdales, as well as commercials for brands like Toyota and Men's Warehouse

Like many of his "America's Next Top Model" alums, Keith ventured into acting. He has starred in "The Bold and the Beautiful" as Danny, the bikini bartender, as well as "The Young and the Restless." The model also appeared in the 2017 film "Chocolate City: Vegas" and starred in Cardi B's music video for "Be Careful."

After winning "ANTM," Keith found that a lot more doors opened for him. Talking to View the Vibe, he shared, "The benefit of winning ['America's Next Top Model'] is a higher selling point when being pitched for other opportunities. There was also a major increase in my social media following. I'm able to leverage a lot of other jobs by being on 'ANTM.'" Indeed, Keith has rounded up quite the fan following with 2 million Instagram followers as of this writing. 

Sal Stowers

Saleisha Stowers, who shortened her name to Sal, won Cycle 9 of "America's Next Top Model" and took home prizes that consisted of a modeling contract with Elite Model Management, a spread in Seventeen magazine, and a contract with CoverGirl cosmetics. 

According to the Seattle Times, Stowers' win became controversial when it was learned that she had done some modeling before appearing on the show and had "ties with Tyra Banks." She had also worked on a Wendy's commercial, with E! noting that models hoping to be a part of "ANTM" "must not have previous experience as a model in a national campaign within the last five years," according to the show's eligibility rules. However, The CW said that she was able to participate in the series because she was acting in the commercial and was not modeling. 

Like so many "ANTM" models before and after her, Stowers went into the world of acting, making her small-screen debut on "Ugly Betty" in 2006. She would later guest star on television series including "Switched at Birth" and "The Fosters" before landing her first major role on "All My Children" in 2013. She'd find more success as a soap opera star when she began playing Lani Price on "Days of Our Lives" in 2015.

Lisa D'Amato

Lisa D'Amato appeared on Cycle 5 of "America's Next Top Model," and although she wouldn't snag the title of Top Model, she returned for the show's All-Star Cycle in 2011 — and she went on to win the competition. But, unlike the show's numerous former contestants who continued to model or moved on to acting, Lisa would find fame on reality television.

In 2010, Lisa was among several celebrities who appeared on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," and in 2016, she would return to reality television with her husband on "Marriage: Boot Camp: Reality Stars." After that, the model appeared on an episode of "Shark Tank," where she successfully plugged her invention called Dare U Go, a silicone plate for babies designed with moms on the go in mind.

Fans of "ANTM" might not know that Lisa is also passionate about music, with the songstress having released two albums in the hip-hop, electronic, and pop categories. Her debut album "La Puchinetta" was released in 2009, and her second album, "Flippin' The Bird," was released two years later. 

In 2021, Lisa called out Tyra Banks over the mistreatment she felt when she was competing on "ANTM." On Instagram, the model alleged that the show had used her "childhood trauma against" her when filming. During an interview with E!, she also complained that she was portrayed as an alcoholic, which lost her several job opportunities.

Danielle Evans

Danielle Evans aka Dani won Cycle 6 of "America's Next Top Model" and went home with contracts with CoverGirl and Ford Models, the latter of which she left. She later signed with Elite Model Management, per Essence. While Dani's modeling career included working on several runways, having numerous ad campaigns for brands like Sephora, and appearing in magazines like Elle and Essence, she would also use her fame to pursue other ventures outside of the modeling world. 

She released a book in 2013 titled "The Skinny on Getting In: An Inside Peek into the Fashion World for the Aspiring Model," which talks about her personal experiences in the modeling world and also acts as a how-to for people who are looking to work in the extremely demanding industry. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Dani shared that her top tips for getting into modeling include having "confidence and knowing how to dress in this business."

Besides being a model and published author, Dani also owns a fashion line called Monrowe – a line of unisex hats. She shared with Veronica Beard that the line, which gets its name from her grandfather, has a unique style. "Everything is super personal to me. I've always identified with a wide-brim hat. Nothing against floppy hats, but if I'm going to design one, it's going to be more structured in shape. Everything that I design, I would wear myself," Dani said.