Arlington's Terra White had auditioned for America's Next Top Model three times before her fourth try, this year, got her cast on Cycle 15 of the show, which begins Wednesday night.
Arlington's Chris White has never auditioned for the show before, but she got cast on her first try when she auditioned in Dallas this year.
Yes, the Whites are sisters. But Terra White says that this isn't a case of sibling rivalry.
"There was no envy [earlier] or anything like that," says White, 24. (Chris White, 20, was on vacation and unavailable for comment at press time.) "[She] was always, 'Go ahead, give it all you've got.' She didn't go with me till this last time, and it was a lot more comfortable for both of us, because we were there to encourage each other, make sure we were doing the right things and that we looked OK."
As it turns out, the Whites aren't the only North Texans on this ANTM cycle (the show uses the "cycle" terminology because it usually airs two full competitions during the course of a single TV season). Liz Williams, a 21-year-old from Arlington, and Ann Ward, a 19-year-old from Dallas, are also on the show, making four of the 14 contestants from Dallas-Fort Worth.
Williams says that there were few degrees of separation among them.
"Chris and Terra live down the street from me," she says. "And Ann lives right by my mom's house, which was just strange. It's a small world. It's crazy to think that we can all be there from the same city, same place. I actually met Chris and Terra at the audition in Dallas ... We got there about 7 in the morning and [hung out] together all the way till the end."
Ward, who says she's more shy than the other Texas contestants, saw the other women at the audition but didn't meet them till she was on the show.
"Being on the show with other girls from my area was really cool," Ward says via e-mail. "We could all relate to each other about stuff, like the weather, places we like to eat, or go to to hang out. The other girls and I could all talk about things we missed about home and made me feel a bit better about being so far from Texas."
When you stick several contestants into one house on any reality show, it can get volatile -- in fact, reality-show producers rely on that volatility. There can be an even bigger chance for it when contestants are related, or at least a chance for sibling rivalry to flare up, as it did between Michael and Bryan Voltaggio on Season 6 of Top Chef.
Terra White says that didn't happen with her and her sister on ANTM, although they have different personalities.
"We're both outgoing, but it's two different types of outgoing," she says. "I'm more laid-back, but I still talk. She's more of the center of attention, kind of out there. It's day and night. But there's no drama between us two. We actually got a little bit closer being in the [ANTM] house together. We do different things when we're at home, but being there, we tended to draw to each other more."
Although Terra White says that Williams' personality is closer to her sister's, Terra and Williams did have an athletic background in common. Terra loves taking on -- and beating -- guys on the basketball court, and always keeps shorts and a T-shirt in her car trunk in case a game pops up.
"I was kind of a tomboy," Terra White says. "Modeling was never really my thing. But my mom modeled a lot, and looking through her books and seeing what she did, I was like, 'Oh, that's kind of neat.' I always watched [ANTM]. And the more I watched the show, the more I was like, 'Maybe I can do that, maybe I can do this.' So it just kind of brought it out for me."
Williams, who says she ran track for seven years and played basketball for four, hadn't watched the show in several years.
"I really don't watch television right now," says Williams, who's a single mom holding down two jobs and going to school full time. "By the time I get home, it's midnight and I've got homework to do, so the last thing I do is watch television. But in high school, after homework was done, that's when I had time to watch [ANTM]."
As for Ward, she says she's more of an artist than an athlete, but she also says she has a tomboyish background.
"In high school, I never really dressed up," she writes. "I hardly ever wore makeup. I was kind of a tomboy during that part of my life, but now I like to dress in more dresses and skirts. "
Ward, by the way, is 6 foot 2 and very thin -- so thin that in a promo for the show, judge Miss J. Alexander puts his hands around her waist while host Tyra Banks seems to admire Ward's thinness. ABCNews.com and other Web sites reported that Banks later issued a statement saying she doesn't condone overly skinny models. Ward says, however, that she's used to reactions like that.
"People have talked about my body all my life," she says. "When the judges commented, I wasn't too surprised, since I am used to people noticing my height and the body. But they weren't mean at all about it, so it didn't bother me."
Hopes and dreams
The women all have different reasons for entering the competition, and different dreams for what they'd do if they did win. Even with two jobs, Williams struggles to pay for rent and day care, and she lost time while competing on the show. "Experience-wise, it was amazing," she says. "But financially, I already knew what I was in for when I got back home. I'm prepared to be evicted, if that's how it's going to be."
Terra White says that she's also struggling, trying to find a job, wondering how to make her next car payment and pay other bills.
"I like to keep that kind of stuff to myself," she says. "I don't want to voice all that other stuff to the world. I just try to keep myself grounded, and focused toward what I want to do. ... I do have that family background there to help me to better myself, but I don't want to focus on the trouble that I have."
Ward says being tall and thin has worked against her in the modeling world, and she hopes that ANTM can change that.
"Being very tall, it's hard for me to break into the fashion world," she says. "But through the show I could actually become noticed and start working as a model. But winning would also definitely help my family out. I would love to have a career that could really help my parents get rid of payments and things."
The women say they enjoyed meeting host Tyra Banks and the other judges, even when the judging could get a little brutal. Terra White says she just focused on the positive aspects. Williams says that the judges had a hard time fazing her.
"I've heard way worse things than what Tyra or [judge/photographer] Nigel [Barker] or any judge had to say to me," Williams says. "So I was prepared.
"In high school, I was the girl with the braces, the glasses, the unibrow, the Afro. I couldn't match my clothes. I'd never used tweezers. It was horrible. I finally got contacts and straightened my hair and got more attractive when I got out of school."
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872