Cycle 22 of “America’s Next Top Model” (“ANTM”) made history by featuring Nyle DiMarco, the first deaf model ever to compete as a contestant in the popular TV series. On the recent finale of “ANTM,” Nyle DiMarco made history for the second time on the show when Tyra Banks crowned him as the winner of the show’s final cycle.
Nyle DiMarco encountered various obstacles throughout the competition, including an outdoor photo shoot in the dark. In two separate interviews with PEOPLE and Daily Mail, DiMarco described his experience by stating “I have to be honest, there was only one time where I felt that I had a true disadvantage: The night shoot during the camping trip. It was a photo shoot that took place in the woods at night in pitch black. I’m Deaf, but shooting in the dark also made me blind! I’ve never been so frustrated in my life because I knew that I could do it.” This particular competition round, resulted in DiMarco being placed in the bottom two for the week.
Outside of the photo shoot competition in the dark, DiMarco also discussed a major set-back he encountered while in the competition. He said “the competition, and especially living with the models in the house, was undoubtedly a lot fun, but it was also pretty tough. The inability to use my language, American Sign Language, and the lack of communication, information access and the general connection to the world was difficult. It truly did take a toll on me mentally, I even cringe now when I watch myself on ANTM being all alone.”
Despite that ongoing stressful challenge, DiMarco pushed through with a positive mindset by keeping in mind the significance of his involvement on the show. He said “I wanted to take advantage of the platform, not only to prove that I’m the best but also to educate and prove to the world what Deaf people are capable of. So I kept a smile on my face and had positive thoughts.”
For viewers who kept up with cycle 22 of “America’s Next Top Model,” we consistently witnessed how DiMarco felt left out on multiple occasions when he lived with his fellow model competitors. Such as when all the other models would talk amongst themselves and DiMarco would sit there not having a clue what they were saying. Many people, primarily deaf viewers of the show, strongly identified with how he felt disconnected in a predominately “hearing” environment. This unfortunately is a reality for many deaf people around the world.
DiMarco described his win on “ANTM” as more than just a victory in a competition, he said “I hope that my win inspires the Deaf community to start pursuing their desired careers. There are so many talented Deaf people that the world needs and can benefit from.”
I couldn’t agree more, congrats to Nyle DiMarco!