A 17 year old girl walks into the judging room and stands in front of Sara Tetro, Chris Sisarich, 62 Models’ head booker Andrea Plowright and a producer from TV3. She’s shaking. Tetro greets her with a big smile and attempts to put her at ease. “S-s-sorry,” the girl stutters, “I’m really nervous.” “Hey, you have nothing to worry about,” says Tetro, “We’re just going to ask you a couple of questions to get to know you, and there are no wrong answers.” The girl nods, and it begins. “Where are you from? How old are you? What school do you go to? Who was your favourite girl in the last series?” With each question answered, the girl comes out of her shell a little more. After the fourth, despite no consultation between the judges (they have a secret signal), the TV3 producer speaks up. “We won’t be asking you back for the next round, but you should feel proud of yourself for coming – it’s a very brave thing to have done.” She’s right, it takes guts to turn up to a reality TV show audition in the hopes of becoming New Zealand’s Next Top Model. After being there four hours, I didn’t envy the position of the contestants or the judges.
There were the young, short girls, who, despite knowing they wouldn’t make it if they were under 170 centimetres, still burst into tears when they realised their dreams were shattered. Surely their mothers could have saved them the pain and measured them at home. Then there were the over-age girls, who, despite knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to enter if they were post-25, still decided to turn up. One 27 year old stayed around all day chatting to the other girls about her love of ice skating and spirographs. A couple of musicians appeared throughout the day, in the hopes of being caught on camera singing their original compositions. New Zealand Idol‘s that way, honeys.
There were friends competing with friends, schoolmates there for a laugh and cringing girls who’d been forced by their parents. Siblings, boyfriends, mums and dads waited in the corridor outside.
Of the hundreds of girls the judges had seen that day, only five had been shortlisted. “We’re looking for a model who will work,” said Tetro. “Not just a good looking girl who will book one job and that’s it. We’re looking for the total package. The looks and the personality.”
TV3 Network Executive Andrew Szusterman agreed. “Any girl who wins New Zealand’s Next Top Model and goes on to have a great career gives credibility to the show. But we’re not fooling ourselves – we’re making a TV show. Big personalities help. But you’d be surprised at how little we have to do to instigate drama. It’s a pressure cooker environment. You get a whole bunch of young girls and stick them in a house with no cellphones, no Facebook and no communication to the outside world – something’s bound to happen.”
Oh yes it is.
These three girls were my picks from the auditions:
If you’re a 16-25 year old young lady and would like to be involved, here are the rest of the audition dates (click the links for details):
Manukau, today – 1pm-6pm.
Christchurch, Monday 7 June.
Dunedin, Tuesday 8 June.
Queenstown, Wednesday 9 June.
Nelson, Thursday 10 June.
Wellington, Friday 11 June.
Napier, Saturday 12 June.
Tauranga, Sunday 13 June.
And, ladies, for your sakes, if you’re not at least 170cm, model-sized and between the ages of 16 and 25, don’t put yourself through the humiliation.
I LIKE YOU!