In 2012, James was selected to compete on the nineteenth cycle of America's Next Top Model. In the competition she was one of the front-runners, receiving three first call-outs as well as winning three challenges for her scholarship bank. She appeared in the bottom two three times. In Jamaica, James landed in the bottom two with Nastasia after the Dream Come True photoshoot for their weak photographs but in the end, James had the higher score, leaving James to compete alongside fellow contestants Leila Goldkuhl and Kiara Belen in the finale. At the final runway at Rose Hall, James struggled with her runway walk and at panel, James was criticized for her stiff walk, yet praised for her Nine West photo. In the end, James received the highest total average of the three remaining contestants, making her America's Next Top Model. As a result, she was offered modeling contracts with New York Model Management and L. A. Models, she became the face of America's Next Top Model's fragrance Dream Come True, won a spread in Nylon magazine, campaigns with Nine West and Smashbox Cosmetics, and a $100,000 cash prize as well as the $30,000 she earned from her three challenge wins to be used to pay off her college education.