7th March 2017 / Musings / by Chia Sihan

5 Career Lessons
from Asia's Next Top Models

The view at the top is breathtaking, but so is the hike on the way there.

With International Women’s Day 2017 coming up on 8 March, and Cycle 5 of Asia’s Next Top Model airing on Star World on April 5, we’ve gleaned some life wisdom from catching Cycle 4 re-runs. [Update: The new cycle’s winner is Maureen Wroblewitz from the Philippines) After all, where’s a better place to watch new faces #getreal and outshine each other for glory, than in the cutthroat world of the fashion industry?

Even for non-reality show fans, this competition will make you rethink any preconceptions you may have about the industry being an ultra-glamourous one. In the quest of uncovering the next It girl in Asia’s modelling scene, the contestants have to tackle a series of challenges that come their way, whether it’s shooting in tough weather conditions, or breaking out of their comfort zone to get the job done.

In Episode 9 of Season 4, The Girl Who Sank Without A Trace, the girls sweated through a boot camp sequence on an open field, before dashing to the changing room to change into pre-selected outfits and catwalk down the runway under sunny blue skies.

The second half of the show showed them at a bikini photoshoot, where the challenge winner would become the new face of Neutrogena’s 2016 campaign. It’s one thing to do a photoshoot in a bikini, and another to have it done in a freezing studio with four men splashing water at you to create the dynamic visual effect of having clean beautiful skin that’s worthy of a beauty campaign.

Here are some survival gems rounded up from this particular episode on what it takes to achieve career success from the aspiring top models.

#1 – Don’t stop pushing your limits


A post shared by tuts (@tutitimes4) on

Failure, or what we tend to perceive as failure to reach certain goals, can either set you back, or be a motivating factor to drive anyone further. For Malaysian contestant Tuti Noor, she chose the latter.
After the morning’s intense bootcamp session, she was shaking badly and pretty close to throwing in the towel. It was at that moment she recalled that she was almost booted off the competition at the last challenge. The tough cookie mentally composed herself, changed into her outfit, and gave the fiercest walk of her life down the runway. Her gumption got the judges’ vote of affirmation, who selected her as the best performer of the challenge.

Now endorsing fashion and beauty brands in Malaysia and appearing on covers of national glossies, she continues to push her own boundaries. In an Instagram post, she muses, “You know, I’m just a normal, Utara kampung girl who’s struggling with insecurities, who thinks too much of the “what-ifs”, and wonder if the world is going to end soon, what have we achieved?”

Image from Tuti’s Instagram account @tutitimes4

#2 – Remember the big picture




Always a pleasure 👟 #adidassg


A post shared by A N G I E 🌸 (@angiewatkinsss) on

Nobody said success was going to be easy, but no one also said how hard it could get. It was definitely a big step outside of her comfort zone for Singaporean rep Angie Watkins, who voiced her discomfort at being clad in a bikini for a beauty photoshoot. Overwhelmed by the pressure, she broke down on set, and managed to struggle through the session with the help of the judges and mentors, celebrity and fashion photographer Yu Tsai and Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore’s Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Goh.

While her reluctance to be portrayed in a certain way was understandable, it was a common scenario that most professional models would face. If she had caved in and abandoned the competition, it would be a waste of her earlier efforts and talent. Thankfully, she persisted and went on to bigger and better things, such as becoming the 2016 face of dance festival ZoukOut.

Image from Angie’s Instagram account @angiewatkinsss

#3 – Have grit in spades

Korea Nylon magazine editorial

A post shared by Sang In Kim (@sanginkim987) on

In any competition, there is always a cool cucumber that never looks ruffled, no matter how choppy the competition gets. In AsNTM, that person is South Korea’s Sang In Kim, who half joked about “overthinking about overthinking” when she was facing the swimsuit challenge.

The Korean beauty was tensed at the start, but got in her element as the shoot wore on and gave an admirable performance, sealing her fate as the face of Neutrogena 2016. Represented by Storm Model Management, the waif-like model recently walked at London Fashion Week and Chanel’s Spring/Summer Haute Couture 17 private presentation in London. Ever since the competition concluded, her hard work ethic has seen her featured in fashion spreads in glossies such as Tokyo’s Numero, Nylon Korea, Elle Korea, Vogue UK, and Grazia UK.

Image from Sang In’s Instagram account @sanginkim987

#4 – Always give your best shot



Whether it’s for an assignment or a personal photoshoot, making the effort to put your best face forward will pay off, be it through a growing number of likes and followers, or landing your next big assignment.

Indonesia beauty Patricia Gunawan’s flawless skin and natural glow earned her the designated theme of “beauty” for the skincare shoot. Before the photoshoot, she quickly asked Yu Tsai if he could let her know when he felt her pictures were not working so she could change.

By proactively seeking feedback on her performance, the 1st runner-up winner was able to get into the zone and focus on delivering a great picture. While she didn’t win that challenge, she put in consistently good performance, and was chosen as the brand ambassador for Japanese automotive brand Subaru.

Image from Patricia’s Instagram account @patriciagouw

#5 – Unleash your inner roar

Yooo We’re cool! Lol @carine_nguz 😎😆

A post shared by JIRATCHAYA KEDKONG (Tawan) (@tawanjiratchaya) on

Apart from the drama and challenges that permeated the competition, one thing that remains consistent is Thailand’s Jiratchaya “Tawan” Kedkong’s shy smile. The soft-spoken model has such a likeable demeanour that the judges had to gently but firmly prod her to assert her presence by literally yelling out that she’s here to win the competition.

From an understated onscreen persona, the winner of Asia’s Next Top Model 4 transformed with polished confidence in front of the camera, after two months of competing and mentoring from the judges.

Image from Tawan’s Instagram account @tawanjiratchaya

About the Writer

Chia Sihan

A story junkie by nature, this TFCS scribe thrives on uncovering the backstories of her interview subjects, whether they are heads of corporations or a working Mum caring for a child with a developmental disorder. She finds it a privilege to be privy to these personal experiences. Some of the publications she has written for include the Singapore Women’s Weekly, L’Officiel Singapore, and Harper’s Bazaar Junior. It is this genuine love for storytelling and collaboration that led her to kickstart her journey as a co-founder of The Fashion Collective Singapore. Now the chief storyteller at TFCS, she is particularly inspired by the personal journeys of TFCS Mentors, not to mention their dedication towards the refinement of their craft.

Head over to The Editor’s Journal to read articles contributed by Sihan.

Follow the author at: