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Be a Supermodel Already!

Chris reflects on the first challenge.

Well, I am finally back in NYC and ready to throw myself, head first, into this exciting opportunity. I just can’t wait to get started already.

The first part of the show we worked on was the casting special. That was where the final models were selected to move forward and of course I was one of them. It was a great experience because it was our first taste of filming and also one of the first chances to see all the other potential competition.

I was sitting up in the studio going through each model in my head and deciding whether or not they would make it into the house. On the guys' side, I definitely had a unique look from everyone else which I feel will help me move forward. I would think the competition would gravitate towards someone with a unique look and not someone who looks like anyone else.

Out of all the guys there, the only one I really thought to look out for was Gabriel. I feel like he could be the biggest competition for me because we have a similar style. I think we are the only two guys who dress a little more forward and have a Euro look about us, but we’ll see what happens.

The first thing we did upon entering the studio was go into a room where Tyson was waiting for us. I guess Niki Taylor will not be working on this season, which was really disappointing. But after meeting Tyson we were then put to the test by performing our runway walks not only for Tyson but for a panel of judges. It was slightly intimidating at first but I was confident in my walk and I think that came through to them on the runway. I did not receive any negative feedback on my walks alone. I think the only thing they said was “that’s it” or “good” or something like that which was a huge relief to me.Then, we were sent down the runway with a partner. I was partnered with Branden and our first walk was a little off sync but the second time we walked together was a lot better and I felt like we worked well together.

It felt like we were walking together and for the same show. His walk was just a little bit stiff, in the shoulders.

After the catwalk test we were lined up and stripped down to our swimsuits for a body evaluation. I knew I still had to work on some parts of my body because I am very thin and need to gain a little weight. But it’s hard for me to gain weight because I have a crazy high metabolism. I had been working out for about a little over a year before coming on the shows.  I was really happy to have met some of the guys in the competition because not only was Ken a personal trainer but a few other guys were extremely knowledgeable in fitness and diet. That is exactly what I needed. I realized later that all that time I had been working out wasn’t the right routine for my body.

After the body evaluations the last part of the day was a photo shoot. We worked with an excellent photographer and it would be this shoot that was judged along with our walks that determine whether or not we make it into the model house. We had to pick a prop to work with during the shoot and they were very random items. I ended up choosing a can of whipped cream. I have a big sweet tooth and it just looked so tasty.

At the end of the day it was time to choose who would move forward and who would go home.  I’ll never forget the moment that Tyson called my name to step forward and it was then my time to find out if my dream was coming true and if I would be moving forward or not. The pause after my name was called seemed like it lasted for hours … and Tyson said “Thank you …,” another everlasting pause. My heart felt like it was going to explode. After what seemed like eternity, I was able to step forward and claim my invitation to join the competition! I was the first model to make it.I remember saying “Thank you a million times. I will prove it to you that I can be a supermodel” to the judges before walking over and claiming my spot in the lineup.  I was so excited that I had made it!  It was the most amazing feeling in the world.

The next day all the models set out early to begin filming intro segments. We were taken to various scenic locations around NYC and filmed walking separately as if we were off to an exciting job or something. It was really fun. My scene was this great area with cobblestone streets and an old railroad track built on the street with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like and what it will be used for.

We still hadn’t been able to see our new house yet so I thought that’s where we would be heading to next but the day had just begun. As we walked from our beginning locations, I saw that now Tyson was set up and waiting nearby. He informed the models that today was our very first photo shoot for the judging panel. Above him was a large red box suspended in the air. As Tyson’s info finished the box flew open and revealed a girl standing enclosed in it.  Nicole introduced herself to us as the mentor for the girls. Tyson let us know that on this season, instead of judging, he would be mentoring the male models.

The theme of the shoot was sexy sleepwear. We would be working with a partner and suspended high up in the plexiglass box with the objective of capturing an intimate moment together. I was really excited because I had never done anything like this before. I ended up being paired with Branden for the shoot. It takes a lot to make me feel uncomfortable but I could tell Branden was a little nervous being that it was our first photo shoot and that also we were both guys who needed to capture an intimate moment. Since I was completely comfortable I went over to talk to Branden several times about working together and what we could do once we got up in the box in hopes that he wouldn’t feel nervous in any way because I knew it would totally show to the camera. After we talked and got to know each other a little better we even practiced some poses so we would really feel prepared enough for the challenge ahead of us.

One of the really cool things about this shoot was that we were in the public streets of NYC so naturally people around us gathered to find out what was going on. I sort of expected that, but what I didn’t expect was crowds of people on all sides of us! I really loved that feeling, I think it really put everything into perspective for me. Now I was thinking “This is really something big. This really is very exciting.” I love the feeling of people around you wondering who you are and what you’re doing. Up in the box, I felt like Branden and I had a really great chemistry for the shoot. We managed to work out different poses the entire time and unlike when we watched other groups go who looked uncomfortable at times, I never felt like we were. We were suspended for about ten minutes and then taken down. I felt like that was a really good sign because I thought that meant the photographer got the shot he really wanted.

I forgot to mention the photographer we worked with was Perou. At first I was really excited to work with him because he seemed to be really experienced and had a really unusual style personally which I liked. It wasn’t until the first judging that I realized that Perou wasn’t as excited to work with me as I was with him.

I thought it was really strange because when Branden and I first got up in the box, Perou made a playful joke that we could just go ahead and kiss to make things more comfortable between us. I thought that was funny and even though we did not do that, we both did our best to seem like we were capturing that intimate moment that was the objective of the shoot.

Since we were told that the photographer had up to 10 minutes with each group, when we were lowered to the ground after 10-15 minutes I felt that we did a great job or else he would have kept us up there no longer until Perou was satisfied and felt he got the shot he needed.

When I stepped out of the glass box all I received was really positive feedback from other models and the people around us. Tyson even said that we nailed it. So I felt good about the whole thing.

That night, the models were finally going to be taken to the house. I was so excited to see where we would be staying for possibly the next few months. The only thing I wasn’t excited about was that fresh from the shoot, we had to take the subway to get there! I was so exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was go into the subway system which I didn’t know very well if at all in NYC.
Luckily we made it after the first one we went all the way down to find out that the train wasn’t running. I guess that was something I would have to get used to, right?

The house was pretty cute; in a high-rise of condos in the heart of Brooklyn. It was terribly exciting to finally be there. After the whole application process, the casting special, and photo shoot, I was finally able to chill out and relax for a second and know that my place was secure in this whole adventure. I was just so grateful that this is where I was at this exact moment in my life. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

With the cameras finally on us at all times, this was the first chance I got to really get to know all the other models. Shawn and I had already become friends; he’s such a sweet guy. In the house I roomed with Colin, Karen K., and Laury. I was really glad that we were together too because the four of us sort of had similar personalities and not having a choice of living with many other people, it made things a lot easier.

Not too long after the models settled into the house, it was already time for the first elimination. I hadn’t even gotten my makeover yet so I was determined not to be sent home. If you’ve ever seen the show before, you know elimination means catwalk challenge. This I was terribly excited about because I had never walked in a runway show before all I knew that was that my walk was pretty strong. I couldn’t wait to keep my dream of becoming a supermodel going further.

As we arrived at the location of the runway setup, it was straight to hair and makeup.  Being backstage and getting prepped for the show was really amazing.  I was thinking, “if this is all I ever had to do everyday from now on, I would be totally happy.”  While we didn’t have to worry about things like picking clothes or doing hair or fixing our faces, we did have a lot of other things to worry about.

There was limited time and space to perfect my runway walk, perfect my poses for each stage of the walk, and hope the judges would love me.My outfit for the first show was made up of this really fabulous Burberry grey button-up, Perry Ellis tailored trousers that fit amazingly, a really cute vest over the shirt and a fabulous pair of black leather Dolce and Gabbana shoes to top it off. I was so happy with the outfit because I literally could see all of it as something that would come out of my own closet.

We were able to do a few tests on the actual runway before walking for the judges and I felt that I had everything down. However, when you finally do walk out and the judges are sitting right in front of you, it sends an extra set of nerves through your body. It’s even more real that way. 

The only thing I would have done different was at the end of the runway pose, I should have looked at the judges in the eyes. Instead I thought it would be better to pick a focus point on the wall behind them so I wouldn’t be as nervous. But I think the judges wanted that little extra connection from me.

In the model house, everyone really liked my picture that week with Branden. Although I was upset that they picked a shot where I wasn’t looking at the camera. Also, I wanted to see the buildings of NY and some of the people below like some of the other photos had. But I just thought  that, well, they can’t please everyone and I thought that the photographer would pick the best shot out of all that would complement both models in the photo. 

Also I remembered switching up my poses in the box and only looking to the side in some shots. Sure enough the first thing Perou says at the judging was that he didn’t like my shot because I wasn’t looking at the camera! I was so upset because I knew that there were plenty of shots of Branden and I where I was looking at the camera and I felt that there were others with better poses. Not only that but Perou also was poking fun at the fact that Branden and I were kissing during the shoot. On more than one occasion he pointed that out and made his opinion seem very disapproving of the situation. However, Branden and I didn’t kiss and even if we had, who cares, it would have been hot. I thought back to Perou’s comment to us when we first got into that glass box about us kissing to get more comfortable and it just upset me to be standing on the runway in front of him now and hearing his judgment. He came off to me then as really homophobic. I would have expected his judgment from a common person off the streets, but not from a fashion photographer in the industry.

The other judges, the first week, told me that I need to “man up” a little bit and not be too androgynous. After listening to what they had to say about my critique, I sort of agreed with them. I came on the show as my own person but knew I needed to change some things in order to grow and move forward in this competition. I mean the show is called Make Me A Supermodel not “Be a Supermodel Already!” So, naturally I was ready to embrace change.

Ken was sent home the first week and I was safe. I was determined to come back next week and show the judges that I had in fact improved greatly with their advice and help.

After the tumultuous day of elimination we had some time to relax at the house.

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