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Wed, Feb 20, 2013
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There's something about Jessica

Many models would be wrapping up their careers at her age.

But 26-year-old German-Thai contestant Jessica Amornkuldilok will be starting hers, after winning the inaugural Asia's Next Top Model title.

The final episode of the reality TV modelling series, a spin-off of Tyra Banks' US show America's Next Top Model (ANTM), was aired last night on Star World.

The show's host, mentor and judge, 38-year-old Indonesian-Australian model Nadya Hutagalung, told The New Paper: "It would be a crime to rob her of the title because she really deserved to be the winner after she nailed everything.

"Whenever she saw the brief, she would be able to translate it in her own way and then really give it."

During the final deliberation of the show, guest judges like ANTM franchise creator Banks, Storm Model Management representative Marina Fairfax and Harper's Bazaar fashion director Kenneth Goh joined resident panellists Hutagalung and fashion photographer Todd Tyler to discuss the impact of Amornkuldilok's age on her modelling career if she won.

Banks said: "Age will be tough, but she has a presence...there is something about her that's very special."

Amornkuldilok, who is the second-oldest of the 14contestants, told The New Paper: "I didn't think it would affect my chances of winning, but it's just sad that they keep talking about my age.

"I understand that it might be tough, but there are other people my age who look much older than me."

On whether being 26 would shorten the duration of Amornkuldilok's validity in the fashion industry, Hutagalung said: "I think she still has a few years and she is very fortunate that she has a young face.

"But she needs to be able to broaden her capabilities in order to have longevity in her career like I did.

"Going from modelling to hosting...I've done some acting... I'm also going into other areas that are of interest to me."

As part of her prize package, she will be the face of the Canon IXUS 2013 campaign, appear on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine and take home $100,000 cash and a Subaru XV.

She will also be signed with Storm Model Management in the UK and Europe, which is known for previously representing Cara Delevingne, Emma Watson, Eva Herzigova and Cindy Crawford.

But even with an established and prestigious agency behind her, Amornkuldilok is concerned about not having a good command of English.

"I think my English on the show wasn't that good, but I never had the chance to converse in English as much. But now I think I'm improving in the way I talk to people and when I do interviews.

"And I also learn through movies and music and I try to read and refer to the dictionary when I can," said Amornkuldilok.

Modelling challenges

On Asia's Next Top Model, the hopefuls receive briefs in English pertaining to the modelling challenges.

Amornkuldilok said: "The issue that we face is...they don't let us know that they can't understand (us).

"So there is a miscommunication...that becomes a problem."

So what about her boyfriend?

Amornkuldilok was seen throughout the show talking to her boyfriend on the phone whenever times got hard.

Despite her title and the expectation that she will have to travel more now, she said he will be with her every step of the way.

She said: "I'm now based in Thailand, but I will be working for three months in London.

"My boyfriend will be moving with me and studying in a college in London, and hopefully, we'll be able to travel Europe together.

"He's worried as it's my first time travelling to Europe, so he'll be there to help me get accustomed to the place."

She added: "If things don't work out in London, then I will seek other opportunities.

"I've built up a stronger portfolio now and just like other models, maybe I can test my career in places like Milan and NewYork.

"This year is my year and it's going to be all about work."

crobert@sph.com.sg


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