At The CW's viewing party for the "America's Next Top Model" finale, Zap2it had the rare opportunity of watching alongside the two finalists. Afterward, we spoke to Dallas native and Cycle 15's high fashion winner, Ann Ward, about what it was like to relive the experience.
"I was really nervous about it," Ann, 19, told us. "But it was really, really fun, because Chelsey was there with me and we got to laugh at all the goofy things that we were doing. Yeah, it was really exciting."
Watching the finale, the girls made it really hard to pick a clear-cut winner. Even Ann thought Chelsey would run away with the title.
"During the filming of it," she says. "I actually wasn't expecting to win at all. I thought it was really close, but I thought Chelsey might have had the upper hand just because her walk was better than mine and her confidence was better than mine. So, it was a really big shock when they showed my name on the screen."
Aside from the actual announcement of the winner, the girls also got very emotional when their family made a surprise visit to the Italian set during the Cover Girl challenge. And Ann's parents were clearly surprised by the changes in her.
"Having my parents there was just really, really awesome," she says. "Just because you can just tell by looking at them that they were really proud of how far I'd come. And I had just built up my confidence so much. They were just really, really happy to see that."
Ann started the competition strong as she broke "Top Model" history by winning five back-to-back photo challenges. Then, things changed as the personality-driven challenges became more frequent and she definitely began to show signs of her confidence slipping.
"There was a lot of stress involved with all the criticizing I'd been going through with like confidence and stuff," she says. "I think at the time I just didn't really know what to do. I was kind of lost, because I didn't know how to improve on these things."
In the end, she recovered by continuing to deliver on the photo challenges and then going on to win the motion editorial challenge. "I was able to pull through to the very end," she says.
In the end, it seemed the judging panel were more interested in Ann's high fashion editorial potential. And while her height used to be a major issue for her, the competition has given her a new way of looking at her 6'-2" frame.
"I thought my height was such a bad thing about me," Ann says. "But after the competition I learned that's what made me unique. You know different is beautiful."
How do you feel about Ann's win?
Photo/Video credit: Jethro Nededog, Zap2it; The CW