‘But I’m only wearing … a thong!’
As the scent of hairspray wafted through the air, the clicking of high heels could be heard above the nervous chatter of more than 120 young women awaiting their chance of securing a spot on the next season of the CW’s hit TV show, America’s Next Top Model, starring Tyra Banks.
The place was the Giada Salon and Spa in Chico, the mecca last Thursday (March 6) for dozens of women from throughout Northern California eager to tape auditions under the glitz of hot production lights.
They were supposed to bring photos of themselves, including swimsuit pics, but some forgot. When one woman asked a member of the promotional team what she could do, explaining that she didn’t have a swimsuit handy, he replied nonchalantly that she could just take the photos in her underwear.
“OK, but I’m only wearing … a thong,” she said, combing her fingers uncomfortably through her long blonde hair.
Najmah Stucks, 18, who drove to the audition from Sacramento with her mother, aunt and sister, had the same problem. “I had no swimsuit, so I had to do it in my underclothes,” Stucks said.
Last year, when auditions were held in Sacramento, Stucks, now a student at Sacramento State, was only 17 and didn’t meet the age requirement. This year she was so excited she woke her family up at 7:30 a.m. and begged them to drive her to Chico.
“I want to be the best,” Stucks said, beaming. “This is my dream.”
Although many tall and slim young women turned out for the casting call, only one from the Chico area will be selected to compete at the semi-regional audition in Los Angeles. The local audition was held by Chico’s KVRU UPN 21, a CW affiliate. The casting call was one of 12 for the 11th season of the show. The only requirements were that the women be between the ages of 18 and 27; stand taller than 5 feet, 7 inches; and be American citizens.
After spending up to an hour in line, the women were called one-by-one into a private room, where they a panel of judges interviewed them. Under burning hot lights, the women were asked their height, weight, city where they lived and phone number. They then were asked to strut across the room as if on a catwalk and strike a couple of poses, while a monitor behind the judging panel recorded the women’s on-screen presence.
Interview questions ranged from “What supermodel do you aspire to be like?” or “What do you think is your best trait?” to reality-TV-inspired questions such as, “Would you smoke or be rude to people?”
The object of the audition tape was to allow the women’s personalities to shine through. Some kept their cool and brought a lot of charisma and poise to the interview, while others let their nerves show and giggled their way through. One woman writhed under the pressure of the question Tyra Banks often asks on the show: “Why do you think you’re America’s Next Top Model?”
“Well I think I’m beautiful on the inside, and some of these girls are beautiful on the outside, and I’m sure some of them are beautiful on the inside too, but… I don’t know,” she said nervously, laughing.
Some local students gave it a try. Skylar Young, a freshman at Chico State, said she auditioned “to have a good time” and rated her chances as “slim to none.”
“I’ve always wanted to be a model,” Young said. “I watch the show; I mean, every girl does, right?”
Rachel Bartel, an 18-year-old student at Pleasant Valley High, also answered the casting call because she thought it would be a fun experience. She and two friends didn’t realize they needed photos, so they left to take photos and returned to the audition.
“It’s worth it just to say I did it,” Bartel said.