Cue the lights, cameras, and especially the drama as the search for the Caribbean's Next Top Model (CNTM) premiered Monday night on CCN TV6.
The show, a spin-off of the popular American reality competition America's Next Top Model, introduced viewers to 23 Caribbean model hopefuls as they began their transformative journey to the heights of fashion.
As a fan of the original, I was curious to see what would become of the local/regional incarnation. To be honest, I was expecting a bit of a train wreck. However, the show proved to be thoroughly entertaining, as the flamboyancy and sass of a Caribbean woman shone through many of the models and the varying personalities already suggest "must-see TV".
"I think we did a good job. Of course I saw room for improvement," executive producer and chief judge Wendy Fitzwilliam told the Express yesterday in a telephone interview. "I've seen some of the other episodes and I know the show will only get better from here. I was very pleased with the performance of the girls and judges. I think we gave good TV and so far many comments have been positive."
The former Miss Universe admitted some challenges in getting the show off the ground and on TV, but was breathlessly relieved and satisfied by how it is proceeding so far.
Xiea from Antigua and Barbuda, Sedia from Barbados, Jenelle and Kendra from the Bahamas, Treveen from the Cayman Islands, Stephany from Curacao, Treicy from the Dominican Republic, Ashley from Guadeloupe, Lisa and Trudy-Lee from Jamaica, and Semoy, Ornella, Anna-Rosa, Davia, Julianna, Athaliah, Candace, Susan, Sheriza, Rachel, Kim-Marie, Maranda and Tinnitia from Trinidad and Tobago had little time to bond, as they were thrust immediately into action at their base—the Carlton Savannah in Cascade.
They were greeted by international fashion photographer Pedro Virgil, who is also one of the judges, and presented with their first challenge: designing a T-shirt and tagline to sensitise people against the stigma of HIV/AIDS. The design was individual, while the tagline was a group effort.
After the mad scramble for decorations and inspiration, the girls had their first photo shoot—shot by Virgil—modelling their designs.
And it was painfully evident at times that many of them were novices, some awkward in front of the camera, and not all in control of their bodies—something that was emphasised as they took their first walk down the runway to meet the judges—Fitzwilliam, Virgil and local fashion creative director Richard Young.
Already emotions were at the fore, when Semoy from Trinidad stepped up to meet the judges and started to cry as she recounted her difficulties in convincing her mother to support her decision to take part in the programme. This was followed by Trudy-Lee from Jamaica, who did an African dance to the rhythm of the judges' claps.
One stand-out from an entertainment perspective was the colourful Sino-Trinidadian, Susan from Laventille, whose first words to the judges were, "If I told you where I was from, you won't believe me." She was right.
The initial 23 were whittled to just 11 after a lengthy deliberation by the judges.