Elle Macpherson"s hand-picked hopefuls fight for model deal
Jul 4 2010 Steve Hendry, Sunday Mail
THEY were hand-picked by Elle Macpherson for the final of Britain"s Next Top Model but Harleen Kaur Nottay and Jennifer Smith are not your typical catwalk hopefuls.Stunning teenager Harleen is bracing herself for a backlash from parts of her Sikh community, while Jennifer admits she struggles to see herself as a beauty.Harleen, 19, from Midlothian, and Jennifer, 21, from Dunfermline, beat off fierce competition from thousands of girls to make it on to the show, which starts tomorrow night.
The two Scots are in the last 25, competing for a life-changing prize - a contract with the prestigious Models 1 agency, a cover spread with Company magazine and a campaign with cosmetic giant Revlon.Student Harleen, studying business management and entrepreneurship at Napier University in Edinburgh, says she wants to let all Asian girls know they should follow their dreams. But she also thinks some of the older generation may disapprove of her stance.
Harleen said: "At the end of the day, I"m not bothered by what they say. I just want my parents to be happy. They know what I"ve done, what I"m involved with, that"s the main thing for me. My mum has supported me a million per cent and that"s all that matters."Jennifer, who started modelling for a local hairdressing salon, said: "I"ve done quite a few pictures now and I still find it hard to look at them and think, "gosh, I"m pretty".
"I find it hard to think of myself in that way. I don"t look at it like that at all. Everything else I do is creative. I paint, I draw and I try to approach modelling in the same kind of way. I think I"m able to bring that sort of creative process to making a nice photograph and so far it seems to have worked."Much of Britain"s Next Top Model has already been filmed, but both girls are sworn to secrecy on whether they have made it out of "boot camp" and beyond. The winner will be decided for the first time by public telephone vote in a live 90-minute catwalk finale in October.
Both girls however, have been thrilled by the experience of meeting the show"s stunning host, El le Macpherson.Jennifer said: "She is such an iconic woman, one of the real supermodels. To have her hosting the show and for her to hand-pick all the girls and say, "yes, you are good enough to do it," it"s really quite an honour. You see all these images of beautiful models who look fantastic but to see Elle in the flesh and for her to look just as good, I mean absolutely stunning, was something else."
Harleen added: "She is so breathtakingly beautiful. I was intimidated by her presence because of who she is, but she is such an inspiration, such a nice person and so kind."She is the perfect example of someone who is really successful but has managed to keep themselves grounded and not let it go to their heads."
Boot camp sees the final 25 girls being whittled down to 14 - and inevitably there were a few personality clashes. Harleen, who, l ike Jennifer, was selected after a series of auditions and a lengthy interview process, had a brush with one of her onscreen rivals, Kadian.Harleen said: "I made friends with other girls but I did get into an argument at boot camp. These things happen with 25 girls in the one place. Personalities clash.
"I was angry because I was in an argument. Then I backed away from the confrontation but she just wasn"t having it. I"m not the confrontational type and she was upsetting me. I just wanted my own space and she wasn"t g iving me it, but I was f ine afterwards. For the remainder of my time on the show, we just didn"t speak."As well as the other girls, the models had to face a tough judging panel which included top designer Julien Macdonald, former model Charley Speed and stylist Grace Woodward.
Jennifer, who started modelling for a local hairdresser when she was 17, said: "What you saw is pretty much what you get."They tried to keep up their camera persona in front of us, which was quite amusing in some ways."Julien Macdonald is quite honest, shall we say. He"s close to the bone with some of his comments. He is a good guy but you need to have a Simon Cowell-like judge."The industry itself is full of harsh criticism. It is a tough job in that sense. There are always going to be people who like what you do and there are always going to be people who don"t like what you do.
"No matter what feedback you think you are going to get, to go in and stand in front of that panel is always a nerve-wracking experience. It really gets you in the gut."The comments can be quite harsh but you cannot take it to heart. You can"t let things like that get you down. If you took every comment which came your way too personally, you would never get anywhere. You have to brush it off, stand up and get on with it."
Both girls will be glued to the TV screens waiting to see the first episode of the show and, while they can"t reveal how far they progress, both are serious about pursuing model l ing as a career.Harleen said: "Filming wasn"t what I expected. It was pretty intense, a lot more so than I had anticipated but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It"s definitely something I want to pursue, but I"m not na i ve enou g h to think I"m just going to shoot offto London and become a model. I definitely want to have a degree behind me. I am going to tr y to pursue modelling whi le I am at university and just see where it takes me."
Jennifer, who dropped out of a biology degree at Stirling University after her first year, said: "Since filming finished, I"ve worked really hard to put together a diverse portfolio. I think it"s something I"m good at. I have to give it a go while I"m young and I"ve still got good skin and the body to do it. Ten years down the line, I don"t want to think "what if I " d followed that through?" "Just now I"m just excited and nervous about the start of the show on TV.I think all the girls are. It" ll either be really good or I"ll be hiding under a rock for the next month."Britain"s Next Top Model starts on Living TV tomorrow at 9pm.