Abu Dhabi walked the walk on Friday afternoon when the capital finally got a crack at the Elite Model Look competition.
The second and last UAE open casting for the global modelling contest followed one in Dubai last month and took place at Al Wahda Mall.
Hundreds of entrants registered for get their chance to walk the catwalk in front of judges Adriana Usvat and Ganesh Iyer from FLC Models (Elite’s local partner in the contest) and Karen Pasquale-Jones, editor of Friday magazine (for the second time, I was also a judge). 15 women and 12 men were shortlisted in two rounds to go through to the national casting stage later this summer.
Reflecting the UAE’s diverse population, there were candidates dreaming of a modelling career from Denmark, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, India, the US and Australia. Plenty of lessons were learned, like the Danish candidate, who found that wearing a brand-new pair of high heels is a bad idea (she was asked to take them off and walk barefoot — and made it through to the final cut). Hair was another issue: some who had styled their hair in big bouncy curls were asked to pull it back away from their faces, while many of the young girls proudly swung their waist-length hair, but cringed when asked if they would be prepared to chop it off for their career. Usvat repeatedly reminded us that it’s not just about looks, but also about a strong desire to be a model — and put in the hard work that the job requires.
That hard work involves being physically fit, so the judges frequently found themselves politely declining the aspiring male models who showed up sporting a potbelly; an unusually high number of men turned out for this casting.