'America's Next Top Model' Meltdown: Tyra Banks Drops Bombshell on Oldest Model in Competition History
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Tyra Banks for Paper Magazine

Tyra Banks shocks a contestant who is pursuing modeling after having babies in the Cycle 24 premiere.

Tyra Banks came ready to mentor, mold and empower "the most diverse group" in "America's Next Top Model" history on Tuesday's Cycle 24 premiere.

Joined by Ashley Graham, Law Roach and Drew Elliott as judges on the VH1 series, Tyra asked each of the 26 hopefuls to bring with them to their first casting call a photo they felt represented their raw talent.

The judges then evaluated each of the girls' overall looks and personalities to narrow the count down to just 20.

"Many people believe I created 'Top Model' to show girls just how to become models, but no," Tyra said in the always-fierce opening credits. "It was about much more than that. 'America's Next Top Model' has changed the definition of beauty and empowered women when they needed it the most."

"We celebrate the beauty in all of us -- all shapes, all sizes and all colors," she continued. "'Top Model' is my baby, and the fight continues to show you that you are beautiful. That's why I'm back."

So what exactly are the judges looking for? The best of the best -- regardless of age. Cycle 24 is the first in "Top Model" history with no age limit.

After the 20 models remaining completed their first photo shoot at Greystone Mansion wearing the "Avant Garden" designs of Nicola Formichetti -- the man behind Lady Gaga's iconic looks -- Laminat and Ilka were eliminated. The remaining 18 models got to stay in their over-the-top ensembles and walk their first runway show.

The next morning, Tyra barged in on the ladies in their new model mansion to reveal the names of the 14 girls who would continue on in the hopes of becoming America's next top model.

Allexia was eliminated, and so was Erin -- or so she thought.

Upon wishing her luck and hugging her goodbye, Tyra handed Erin -- the oldest model in the competition -- her photo.

"There's 15 girls," Tyra said as Erin broke down. "There was 14 and I said, you know what, this woman is amazing, she is absolutely beautiful. She was 20 years old and she had a dream, but she had babies, and that put the dream on hold while you raised these beautiful human beings. But this beauty never stopped. Beauty knows no age, no size, no color, and you deserve to be here with every single one of these girls here. And girl, I started modeling when I was 15 years old. And you are No. 15."

"You have to work so hard," Tyra continued. "You know how black girls have to work harder? You're a black girl, and you're not 20 years old. You're gonna get judged harsher, and that's just the truth. And I believe in you, and I think that you can do this."

Meet the Judges

Ashley Graham: Supermodel

"I want people to really believe that women of all kinds should see themselves in media, to have their bodies portrayed in a beautiful way. And that's what I'm trying to do today."

Drew Elliot: Creative Consultant/Creative Director for Paper Magazine

"Model diversity is so important. We want a girl that is not like anybody else and who is authentically herself. The modeling industry is really evolving, and 'America's Next Top Model' is right there in front of it."

Law Roach: Image Architect, clients include Zendaya, Ariana Grande, Celine Dion

"I'm so excited that Tyra is lifting the age limit. I've been known to work with some of the biggest stars. Celebrities can be any age, and you buy into the image even before you hear them speak or know what their talent is."

"America's Next Top Model" airs Tuesdays on VH1.

View Photos Vijat Mohindra for Paper Magazine Tyra Banks for Paper Magazine

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