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PUTTING THEIR BEST FOOT FORWARD: Casting call brings out aspiring models

By ADVA SALDINGER
For The Patriot Ledger
Tiera, 21, right, and her cousin Tatiana, 18, both from Randolph, attend the casting call for the CW network’s hit reality show “America’s Next Top Model” at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers.
Photo by Kara Delahunt

BOSTON- Tiera and Tatiana practiced their runway walk regularly in preparation for an audition to be on the television show “America’s Next Top Model.”

The cousins from Randolph were excited to have the opportunity to audition for the show hosted by Tyra Banks.

“America’s Next Top Model” airs on The CW network and awards the winner the title of America’s next top model along with a lucrative modeling contract.

“I love modeling and I love the show,” said Tiera, 21, who has done small runway shows in the Boston area. “I love being in the center of attention out there on stage.”

Tatiana, 18, is a senior at Randolph High School. She said she wasn’t nervous about the audition, or intimidated by the other girls in the room.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “I’m hoping I get some criticism, some stuff I can work on, and confidence.” Neither of the women has ever had formal modeling training, both have taught themselves and said their talent is “natural.”

Tiera said that she sometimes struggles to balance modeling and being a student at Curry College, but that she makes it work.

The two cousins are each other’s biggest supporters, said Tiera. On a recent Saturday they were lucky because all the other women auditioning had to leave their friends and family members waiting outside.

When the women arrived at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers they were given numbers and instructions about the audition process. They were also not to speak to the press after their audition or give their last names.

The requirements to try out included being a woman at least 5 foot 7 inches tall, having U.S. citizenship and being 18 to 27 years old.

The CW network had those auditioning sign a confidentiality agreement prior to meeting with the casting directors. They also had to answer more than 70 questions ranging from lifestyle questions about eating habits, to describing their perfect day.

The women waited in a ballroom until their turn came to be interviewed by the casting directors. They were evaluated on appearance and had to answer additional questions to determine their personalities.

Lenora, 21, of Brockton was hoping the directors would see something in her that made her stand out from the rest of the women.

“I know a lot of the girls are nervous,” she said. “If you’re confident enough to come out and audition there’s no reason to be nervous. I’m not nervous.”

While she has no modeling experience, she said she loves the fashion industry and modeling, and that the audition was an opportunity to do something she has also wanted to do.

“Being in the fashion and entertainment industry you are always in the spotlight and you have the opportunity to make a difference,” she said.

Lenora missed a track meet for her University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth team to be at the audition.

“I figured it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said, and that while her team is mad she thinks they will forgive her, especially if she makes the show.

Lenora said she tried on about 20 outfits before settling on the one she wore to the audition. But when she got up in the morning she basically rolled out of bed wishing for the best, she said.

Ashley also didn’t spend much time putting on make-up before heading to the audition; she decided to go with the natural look.

The 20-year-old from Brockton is an aspiring actress who has also done some modeling and was recently chosen to participate in a school fashion show at Fisher College in Boston.

“I’m definitely going to show them Ashley,” she said before meeting with the casting directors. “I am going to make it funny and rock the house.”

She looks up to Tyra Banks, the show’s host, and tries to learn from her experiences, she said.

Ashley said she had another goal - to be the first plus-size woman to win the title of America’s next top model.

“I’m going to go out there and represent us plus girls,” she said. “We’re not even going to be called plus or full-figured anymore. I’m going to change the name to madams - the madam figure...”--

Maria Wood, a model for more than 20 years who runs the Fashion Focus Modeling and Finishing Program in Pembroke, said she hopes those auditioning go into it with realistic expectations.

“It’s hard to see them go in so wide-eyed,” she said. “It’s a hard road, and the older you are, and more self-confidence that is intact, the better you’re going to fare.”

She said the most important thing for the aspiring models to do is have confidence, be realistic and be honest about who they are.

While Wood does watch the show, she said she has a mixed opinion.

“While I think Tyra Banks is trying to show girls self-empowerment and her heart’s in the right place, they are still criticized when they are not the right size and are allowed to smoke,” she said.

The modeling industry will always be tough and exclusive to tall thin girls who are willing to make sacrifices to look a certain way, she said. What the show ultimately shows young girls is an unrealistic body type that is “desirable but not very obtainable,” said Wood.

She said she hopes the women auditioning will be cautious about being true to themselves but certainly understand the draw of the industry and the confidence and excitement a person gets from modeling.