Show gives models a showcase

KINGSTON, Jamaica - Host of Caribbean’s Next Top Model, Wendy Fitzwilliam, is enthused by the opportunity presented by the show to showcase the best of what the region offers in the fashion and beauty industries. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate us. We don’t value ourselves because our numbers are tiny individually,but our spending ability is great as a region. There are 20 million of us when we add the wider Caribbean and the Diaspora but we don’t see things like that. The opportunity for commerce that a show like this brings is tremendous.” The casting process was two-pronged, with live castings in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, T&T and Barbados, along with Internet castings. There were responses not only from the English-speaking Caribbean but also the Spanish, Dutch and French Caribbean, which Fitzwilliam said was very gratifying. “We have no programming in the Caribbean that transcends the language barrier. We’re close to each other yet outside of products and / or services, we don’t share very much. The only thing that connected the (English-speaking) Caribbean before this was cricket. So there was nothing for us women generally that connected us and that was wider than just the English-speaking Caribbean.” For those who wonder, Fitzwilliam said the girls not only have to look the part, but also go thorough screenings and psychometric testing before they are admitted to the house. “In terms of the scripting of the show, their challenges and photoshoots are well thought out before we do any principal photography but in terms of the backstory of the girls and how they interact with each other, that happens very organically. “Outside of what is shown on TV, there isn’t much additional work we do with them. Of course, we have to edit and put a show together but you get truly the crux of whatever the girls are doing, there’s no special training for anyone and everybody’s exposed to the same thing. “We do have someone on board, usually a psychologist, who interfaces with the girls who are eliminated every single week, because that’s tough. From the jump you’re always eliminating someone but it’s a competition, it’s absolutely necessary, and they get into it knowing that.” Fitzwilliam said she constantly reminds the girls the show is basically a job interview for the fashion industry.