Jen’s gold model win
Jennifer Hawkins is steering the latest catwalk reality show, writes Siobhan Duck
MODELLING reality shows are being slammed for promoting unhealthy body images, bullying and bitchy catfights among contestants.
But the criticism has done little to deter viewers or stop production companies from developing new concepts in the genre.
Already we have America’s Next Top Model on Ten, and Australia’s Next Top Model, The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency and the UK’s Make Me a Supermodel on Foxtel.
In its four seasons on Foxtel, the hugely popular Australia’s Next Top Model has consistently attracted controversy. In the last series alone, judges mocked teenage contestants for their ‘‘jelly botties’’ and allowed one young girl to endure physical and emotional bullying for the entertainment of viewers.
But the Aussie Top Model pales in comparison with its US counterpart, where contestants have had all-out brawls, collapsed after not eating and been forced to pose naked in order to stay in the competition.
Despite the criticism, Channel 7 tonight launches its own assault on the reality fashion world with an Aussie version of Make Me a Supermodel.
Host and judge Jennifer Hawkins (right) says though Australia’s Next Top Model had already unearthed such talents as flame-haired waif and toast of the international modelling world, Alice Burdeau, plenty of fresh faces are still waiting to be discovered.
And, unlike Top Model, Make Me a Supermodel opens the competition to men as well as women.
Though you would imagine some Aussie blokes may be hesitant to sign up for a modelling series for fear of denting their macho image, Hawkins says hundreds auditioned for the first round of the series.
‘‘A lot of guys turned up because it was their first chance to have a go at anything like this,’’ she says.
‘‘They were a pretty confident group. Some had potential.’’
The series is based on the success of US and UK formats which are fronted, respectively, by former supermodel Niki Taylor and Rachel Hunter. As with Top Model, Make Me a Supermodel follows contestants as they learn the ropes of the industry and the often catty politics of living in a house with their fellow contestants.
Hawkins faces a huge challenge as judge and host. Perhaps she’s naive in thinking the self-esteem of contestants will not be bruised by their experiences on the show.
But Hawkins says her aim is to ensure Make Me a Supermodel offers a positive introduction to the industry.
‘‘It’s important we show them the good side of the modelling world,’’ she says. ‘‘Not everything is as mean in the modelling world as people say.
‘‘There’s a lot of potential there but I can’t tell yet whether anyone will be a supermodel. ‘‘We’ll need to work on it.’’ About 1000 people lined up in Collins St on July 6 hoping to be one of the show’s 14 finalists.
So many arrived to audition that producers were reportedly forced to turn some away before they had a chance to strut their stuff for the judges, who include Hawkins, magazine editor Jackie Frank, Chadwick Models managing director Martin Walsh and male model Tyson Beckford.
Beckford, also judge and modelling mentor on the US version of the show, is best known here for his Ralph Lauren campaigns and a cameo in the Ben Stiller movie about male models, Zoolander. Beckford was impressed by the level of male talent auditioning for the Aussie show, and by Hawkins’ work.
‘‘She is one of the most beautiful girls I’ve seen, so natural and laid-back,’’ he says.
Though she has worked on travel series The Great Outdoors since 2005, Make Me a Supermodel is Hawkins’ first foray into hosting an entire series. The 25-year-old has been offered work on various shows over the years, but refused because either the timing or the format wasn’t right. With Make Me a Supermodel, she feels she’s found the show to showcase her skills.
Hawkins had not seen either the US or UK versions before being asked to front the new series.
‘‘I watched the DVDs and liked the formula,’’ she says.
‘‘I liked that it was a glamorous show, that it was reality and that it wasn’t only girls but guys, too.’’
THOUGH she never dreamed that entering the Miss Universe pageant in 2004 would lead to a successful TV career, Hawkins says she couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out.
‘‘The Great Outdoors has given me a great background for TV work,’’ she says. ‘‘I’m really excited about this.’’ Hawkins isn’t ashamed to admit that she enjoys reality television.
‘‘I watch a lot of reality shows when I’m at home,’’ she says.
‘‘I enjoy them. A lot of people do, but for some reason they won’t admit it.’’
Hawkins has made no secret of her desire to forge an acting career, but says that hosting Make Me a Supermodel has put those plans on hold.