Web exclusive: Aspirations in supermodel stardom

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An adventurous trek of one wannabe Top Model

I am America’s Next Top Model. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself after trying out for the reality show in Granger, Ind., Feb. 27.

I’m another one of those model wannabes. Every season I watch “America’s Next Top Model,” drooling over the extravagant photo shoots and glamorous lifestyle of the young hopeful models. Every season I say, why is she on here? I could so do this [model] better!

Nervous, ecstatic and determined, I took my dear mother with me on a three-hour trek to the tryouts, held in the Martin’s Supermarket of Granger.

When we finally arrived in the South Bend-adjacent town, our trusty directions left us smack-dab in the middle of a snowy, upscale neighborhood. Thankfully, we left a getting-lost-thanks-to-Mapquest buffer in our travel time. We found Martin’s Supermarket with a full 45 minutes to spare before tryouts.

I found it odd and amusing for a thing like “America’s Next Top Model” tryouts to be in a supermarket, but the store was actually quite polished — very Carmel-esque, complete with a Starbucks inside. 

A registration table was situated in the middle of the coffee shop/cafeteria. Twenty or so stiletto-clad, skinny-jean-wearin’ young model wannabes already sat there, awaiting their chance at model stardom. The vibe was mildly competitive — every girl, including myself, sizing up the competition. In my tallest, funkiest black boots, skinny jeans (of course) and mini vest, I remained confident, especially considering I was the only girl sporting a (red) faux hawk.

As the 6 p.m. tryouts drew closer, I drew closer to the registration table — the line was first-come-first-serve, and I hadn’t gotten there early to wait in line as long as I had driven! Two fellow wannabes approached me while I waited, giggling that I looked like Sarah, from Cycle Eight (a statement that I highly contest). 

A minute later, the registration table opened up, and I jetted myself to the front of the line (wannabe lucky number seven, to be exact). One by one, they took our applications (by the way, the full application consisted of 74 almost entirely essay questions, a waiver, a birth certificate, copy of driver’s license and passport, and preferably three photos — a bathing suit shot, headshot and body shot — one in black and white). Along the way, girls were turned away because their applications were incomplete. I prayed I hadn’t forgotten anything in mine (thankfully, I was cleared).

They had us put our completed application materials in a giant manila envelope and led us upstairs, where we lined up to take our shot at Tyraland. I lined up with a cluster of other jittery beauties. A makeup artist, with a table full of vibrant cosmetics, and several hair stylists hung nearby for “touch-ups.” I opted for some lipgloss. 

In line, I bonded with an 18-year-old Maryland-native named Sam over our love for “Top Model,” aspirations of runway stardom and relentless nerves. Knees knocking, we racked our brains over the possible questions we might be asked during the tryouts and the names of our favorite Top Models from previous seasons (it took me 10 minutes to recall mine: Yoanna House of Season Two).

A cute, young, semi-befuddled reporter from the “South Bend Tribune” approached us with questions about our experiences and dreams for catwalk fame. From the look on her face, I have a feeling she went home mocking us all, or maybe she was just uber-smalltown-gal.

Before we went for our turn, women from the CW South Bend crew recited to us what we were to say during our auditions: your full name, age, height, weight, hometown and best telephone number to be reached.

Finally it was my time.

Jazzed to impress the false eyelashes off Ms. Banks, I made my way up to the auditions. A pre-teen girl in a CW T-shirt handed me a microphone, and a woman sitting to the side of the cameraman prompted me to talk to the camera. She asked me several questions, to which I started off, “The first thing that comes to my mind is I’m a complete dork …” Then she asked how my friends would describe me and tell why I would make the best next Top Model.

It was very similar to a job interview — one that’s filmed, viewed by Tyra Banks and (if you’re lucky) shown on national television.

After my interview, I was told to do my catwalk on a 10-foot stretch of carpet marked with electrical tape. They took a few profile shots and then I was done! One of the pre-teen assistant girls took my microphone and said, eyes sparkling, “I like your eyes,” referring to the electric blue mascara I wear daily.

I tried my best to be unique and focused but felt thoroughly goofy auditioning in front of a crowd of grocery store on-lookers, with the produce department a floor below. I began scrutinizing what I said or neglected to say during my interview immediately thereafter.

I skipped back downstairs to my mom and found a line of at least 100 nervous, bored gals awaiting their audition.

“You had a sparkle!” said my mother, who had been watching from the area nearby, dubbed for family and friends. She said I seemed completely comfortable and at ease in front of the camera, but that’s proud-mama speak.

I ran into my new model-wannabe-friend, Sam, and we giddily chatted about our auditions. We hugged and exchanged e-mail addresses before parting. “Hopefully we’ll make it together,” we called to each other.

The young South Bend reporter ran into us again during my goodbye with Sam, and with a bit of bemusement, asked why I would make friends with “the competition.” “Why not?” I said. 

By the by, that chick did not get me at all. For instance, she also asked me what was “with” my electric blue mascara, and what I called my hairstyle (I told her I call it a “girly hawk” — a goofy answer for a goofy question, right?).

On our way out of Martin’s, we decided to pick up some groceries — as I had a work pitch-in the following day. The supermarket location proved pretty useful, after all.

In the end, a confident model wannabe and her mom celebrated their successful tryout trek with an 8 p.m. dinner of Belgian waffles at IHOP (scrumptious). I couldn’t think of a better way to prepare myself for “Top Model” than gorging myself with whipped cream, syrup-saturated waffles.

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