S’pore duo among finalists for ‘Asia’s Next Top Model’

Singapore Showbiz

23-year old Kyla Tan is one of the 14 contestants taking part in reality TV show "Asia's Next Top Model". (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)

Kyla Tan, former Miss Singapore International 2010, has now set her sights on another bigger goal: the crown of "Asia's Next Top Model".

The 23-year old entrepreneur is among the 14 finalists who will be part of the first Asian spin-off of the reality TV show made famous by former US supermodel Tyra Banks.

Tan, along with other stunning finalists from Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Japan and Nepal, were unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday morning at Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa.

Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore, the down-to-earth Singaporean Chinese said what sets her apart from the rest of the contestants is her personality.

A "resilient optimist," she called herself.

Tan revealed though that the idea of having cameras on her all the time is intimidating.

"I'm quite a reserved girl, and the thing is at times I'm camera-shy as well. So the biggest challenge [in this competition for me] is to portray my own persona, to be who I am and not just become somebody else because I'm in front of a camera," said the chemistry degree holder who just recently launched her own fashion label as well.

But that is not the only thing the former Nanyang Technological University student has to deal with on this reality TV show.

Despite standing at 1.71-metre tall, the slim model doesn't feel tall enough.

"Once you compare [to other girls on the show], there will be that inferiority complex that comes in. After awhile, it's just learning how to cope who I am and what I have…You have to learn to accept what you have and be who you are."

Rachel Erasmus is no stranger to modeling as well, having bagged The New Paper's New Face "Miss Personality" award in 2010. (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)

The other Singaporean in the competition is 22-year old permanent resident Rachel Erasmus, who bagged The New Paper's New Face "Miss Popularity" title in 2010.

Erasmus openly admitted at the press conference that she is neither one of the slimmest nor one of the tallest models there are. She said that she has learnt to accept that of herself, and agreed with Tan that personality is most important.

Indeed, personality is one of the criteria that all three judges — ex-top model Nadya Hutagalung, fashion photographer Todd Anthony Tyler and renowned local fashion runway director Daniel Boey — are looking for. The fourth judge, model mentor Joey Mead King, was not present at the event.

Hutagalung, 38, told Yahoo! Singapore that she expects three things from the contestants: professionalism, a wonderful personality, and perseverance.

"Professionalism is really important. The girls have to really take the industry very seriously because this is a job, it's not something you do for fun," she said.

Former model-turned-photographer Anthony Tyler agreed, adding that he needs not just a model, but a "character".

"In front of the camera, I need someone who can emote, somebody whose confident, somebody who can take directions and not be inhibited…somebody who can give me some expression, some action, some activity to capture. Otherwise it's just a flat image," he said.

But the Singaporean duo will have their work cut out for them in order to bag the S$100,000 top prize in cash.

Among the standouts at the press conference are Kate Ma, 22, an aspiring, bubbly actress from Taiwan; Jee Choi, a 27-year old South Korean beauty who wishes to own her own fashion label one day; Aastha Pokharel, 20, who used to work as an intern nurse before she entered modeling, and Monica Benjaratjarunun, 19, who is half German and half Thai.

During the 13-week show, the 14 finalists will be knocked out one by one.

On top of the cash prize, the last one standing will bag the coveted title of Asia's Next Top Model, be offered a modeling contract, a car and and a cover feature with Harper's Bazaar magazine. She also stands a chance to become the face of Canon IXUS 2013's campaign.

Catch "Asia's Next Top Model" on SingTel mio TV channel 301, 501 and 555 starting Sunday, 25 November at 8.55pm.