South Florida’s fiercest braved the rain Saturday for a chance to become America’s Next Top Model.
The CW network reality TV show hosted auditions at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, and for the first time welcomed male models to try out.
Miami Gardens resident Gregory Boudreaux, 24, was there with his best asset: his hair. His 6-inch afro sticks straight up into pointy peaks.
“I usually get casted because of my hair,” said Boudreaux, who works in a retail store setting up displays and has walked in some Miami Beach fashion shows.
Even the makeup artist took notice of his ‘do as she dabbed foundation under Boudreaux’s eyes.
“Your hair, oh my God,” said makeup artist Jude Andam. “It’s so angular. It looks... not real.”
More than 300 gorgeous guys and gals auditioned in Fort Lauderdale with the goal to land a spot on the show, created and hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks. On the show, in its 20th cycle, supermodel wanna-bes live together and compete through photo shoots in exotic locations. Past contestants have lived in New York and Los Angeles, and have traveled as far as China, Brazil and Italy for photo shoots.
One by one, models get booted off the show while the rest move closer to top prize: a modeling feature, $100,000 and partnerships with fashion companies to help launch a top-notch modeling career.
Judges on Saturday were looking for models between the ages 18 to 27. Women under 5’7” and men under 5’10” were cautioned to not apply.
A panel of industry experts will pick their local favorites and recommend them to the casting director. Viewers can also pick their favorite by voting online starting Jan. 7-14. The judges’ and viewers’ picks will be revealed in a spot inside the premiere of TV show Carrie Diaries 8 p.m. on Jan. 14 on SFL-TV, The CW.
Jeslie Mergal got her picture snapped for the viewer’s choice contest. Her nerves began to bubble up as she got closer to her short appearance in front of judges.
“Standing in line, it’s not that bad. But as you get closer, it gets worse and worse,” she admitted.
Mergal grew up in Hialeah but moved to Orlando in elementary school. She made the drive down to Fort Lauderdale with her father for two reasons: to audition for the show, and to celebrate her birthday with her grandmother in Hialeah Gardens. The nursing student turned 21 the same day.
The only thing standing in the way of a carefree birthday lunch with her family was a nerve-wracking stint in front of the judges.
Mergal took to the short, wooden platform that served as a catwalk, and introduced herself.
“Why do you want to be on America’s Next Top Model?” a judge asked.
It’s the same question every contestant gets — Mergal knew that. But up until moment before, she admitted she wasn’t sure how’d she answer.
“I know if you put me on the show, I’m going to win,” she answered to the judges. “I will make it: whether it’s here or somewhere else.”
Then she strutted up and down the short catwalk, and ended with a smile and her hands on her hips.
The whole ordeal — from signing up, to orientation, to hair and makeup, and finally, the audition — took about two hours.
“I can’t wait to get my callback,” Mergal said.