“I feel like a mother to the girls,” says Nadya Hutagalung. “When it was time to let them go, I was like ‘if anyone tries to hurt you, you let me know’.”
These “girls” she’s referring to are the 14 contestants of new reality TV series Asia’s Next Top Model; young women that host Hutagalung has developed an almost maternal attachment to.
Nadya Hutagalung with the 14 contestants of Asia's Next Top Model. PHOTOS: Star World
Actress-model Hutagalung will host and judge the first-ever Asian edition of Tyra Banks’ hit series, alongside three other co-judges: Singapore stylist and fashion director Daniel Boey, photographer Todd Anthony Tyler and TV personality Joey Mead King.
Competing for the title of Asia’s Next Top Model, the 14 aspiring models will take on challenges in the style of hit series America’s Next Top Model (ANTM); with an Asian twist.
“We have tried to use (the show) as a showcase of Asian talent,” explains Daniel Boey. “You’re going to see a fair number of Asian designers and Asian jewellers on the show.”
Ahead of its premiere, this Asian edition has also had its share of bad press; last week, it was reported that the show’s production company still owed wages to more than 30 of its crew members.
At the press conference, Tyler and Boey did not comment on the issue; King was unable to attend the media launch. When quizzed about it, Hutagalung says simply that “from where I was standing, it was one of the most professional shows i’ve ever been … In terms of production, production management. And I swear, that is the honest truth.”
Asia's Next Top Model judges (L-R): Todd Anthony Tyler, Nadya Hutagalung and Daniel Boey
So what can audiences expect for this debut season? Who’s likely to be the tough critic?
When asked to describe each of his co-judges in a word, Daniel Boey describes himself as “neurotic”; Hutagalung qualifies that as Boey “(knowing) what he wants”.
“I think Joey would be ‘spunk’ … Todd is direct,” continues Hutagalung. “But meaningful.”
Tyler returns the compliment; he describes Hutagalung as being “honest. Caring (and) committed.”
But what about the contestants then? Would there be catfights as per the usual dramatics of the other Top Model instalments abroad?
“When you put so many girls in a house together, there has to be some kind of tension,” admits Hutagalung. There will be the usual “bitchy moments where viewers go... (Hutagalung gasps) ‘Did she just say that?’”.
“We’ve tried as far as possible not to fake anything,” says Boey. “Fashion is a very dramatic industry. There are lots of egos, lots of dramas … Bits of that will be reflected as well.”
“But these girls forge really nice friendships as well,” adds Hutagalung, citing their camaraderie as one of her personal “highs” of the show.
“A big part of the show is seeing the progression of the girls,” says co-judge Todd Anthony Tyler, also a former model like Hutagalung. “You see them come in relatively raw and then part of the concept and idea of what we’re doing is that … We’re grooming the girls to allow them to develop and aspire to their goals.”
Tyler also echoes Hutagalung’s earlier sentiment: “we start to think of them (the girls) as family.”
Boey concurs too; for him, the elimination “was the hardest part of every single shoot”.
“But it’s the real world. When you’re auditioning for one job and you’ve got like 200 girls going for the casting. You’re down to five girls, they’re all equally good. (But) one gets the job.”
Apparently, there were also a lot of crying backstage; Hutagalung shares that most of the backstage crew were in tears when it was time to say their goodbyes.
“There were many episodes where the cast and the crew - you know the lighting guys, sound guys, those big hairy, tattooed guys were crying. Everyone is so emotionally invested in the show,” recalls Hutagalung.
So would such “emotional investment” translate to good TV? Stay tuned to find out.
Asia’s Next Top Model premieres in Singapore on November 25, 8.55pm on Star World (CH 301 on mio and CH 501/ 555 on Starhub).
Who do you think will win the title of Asia’s Next Top Model? Share with us, in the comment box below.