When the next episode of American’s Next Top Model airs, all anyone will want to know is how Lenox will do with just 5 frames. BuddyTV spoke exclusively to mentor Yu Tsai about the challenge that Lenox will face, staying out of the drama, how each of the models are like his children, and more. 

Lenox’s 5 Frames

When asked about Lenox’s chances to impress the judges with only 5 frames after being given the show’s very first score of “1” by judge Tyra Banks, Yu Tsai was hopeful. 

“Lenox is a great competitor. I saw it happen and the viewers’ reaction to that photo shoot will be very interesting.”

The previous episode had more than just Lenox’s disappointing photo shoot and low score to get viewers talking. There was also the fight between Romeo and Adam (okay, so it was mostly Romeo) that ended with another first for America’s Next Top Model: Romeo getting tossed out of the competition for assaulting another competitor. 

“I Stay Out of the Drama.”

Yu Tsai wasn’t happy when he heard the news. “I was disappointed,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Romeo’s. I am a champion for his diversity and who he is as an individual. I mean, I don’t agree with all the spirituality that he chose, that’s not my decision to make, but he was being an individual and wanted to own it. That was something I really like about him.”

If you think that the models’ mentor was aware of the fight and keeps tabs on everything that happens in the house, think again. Turns out that’s not the case at all. 

“One of things that viewers need to understand is, from my standpoint, I don’t see what happens at the house,” Yu Tsai shared. “My job is very focused as a mentor on the creative side, with the photo shoots. My job is to guide them to get the best pictures of the week. So what happens inside of the house, I don’t hear about it until the next day after the elimination happens, then I’ll ask the questions. I like to stay very pure-minded and focused on why I’m there. I stay out of the drama.”

When he did hear about the altercation and the resulting elimination, it did give him pause for thought. “I think it’s the first time on this cycle that I realized, ‘Wow, the dynamics between each individual person is bleeding over to their photo shoot.'”

How will the recent flare-up in the house affect Yu Tsai’s coaching the rest of this season? The mentor said he’ll be reminding the models of what their job is. 

“You’ll begin to see me definitely trying to get them to drop the drama when they come on the show. It’s like any job, like any modeling job you take. As a model, [if] you have a big fight with your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or whatnot, you leave all that behind the moment you walk on set. The photographer wants a clean canvas to work with. That’s why I hire you as a model.”

It’s a lesson he’s still working on with his students. “These guys and girls have a lot to learn about how to have a clean canvas when they show up,” Yu Tsai revealed. “Leave the drama behind. You know what, by all means, go back to it when you go back to the house. That’s not my problem, I’m not there.”

Picking His Favorites

But even though they all have a lot of work to do to be the models he knows they can be, Yu Tsai already has a few favorites he thinks can make it into the top 4. 

“Each individual on the show surprises me every week. Will and Matthew seem to have this really incredible bond of friendship that was new to me as well. I had no clue. And for them to deliver what they delivered [in the last episode], I was very impressed,” Yu Tsai said, adding, “I’m [also] a fan of Raelia’s. She’s gotten the second-best pictures a couple times now, I believe. It was a toss-up between Will and Raelia. I love Will and Raelia for sure.”

Another favorite will have to learn to get past some drama of her own. “It will be interesting to see [Mirjana] get more focused on the model portion of it and less on the drama of it. So we’ll see how she develops,” Yu Tsai said. 

Overcoming the Beard Weave

As for another model, the mentor was impressed with how he overcame an unusual obstacle: facial hair. 

“I really like Denzel [in the last episode] because he did really, really well. He had to learn to own that beard. It’s the first time ANTM ever put a beard on someone and he has to overcome that and model through that. I’m impressed with how professional he is on set with me every single week. I definitely push his buttons and he definitely pushes mine. But with those buttons pushed, he’s firing off amazing adrenaline so he can really deliver on set.”

And what does Yu Tsai think of the decision to give Denzel the beard weave? “Tyra’s a creative genius on this show. 21 cycles of amazing viewership, why not try something new? I just like experimentation, you have to take chances. If you want to be safe, you wouldn’t be in fashion.”

“They Are My Children.”

Finally, the mentor talked about how guiding the models was like being a parent to a large family of children. “The unique thing about these kids — they are like my children throughout the season — like a parent, you have to balance the love for each of them differently. Some of them respond to tough love, some of them respond to me yelling in their face. They all come with baggage of their own [and] It’s my job to really get into their head and figure out the best way to get to them.”

And though they all give him challenges, Yu Tsai admitted he still cares for every single one of them. “I think that’s one thing people don’t realize is that, like a good parent, you can’t parent each one of your children the same. But you love them the same.”

America’s Next Top Model airs on Monday nights at 9pm on the CW. 

(Image courtesy of the CW)

Michelle Carlbert

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV