Photo: Katherine Lowe
Major New Zealand's Next Top Model sponsor Nivea held a breakfast for media this morning to get everyone amped up for the action starting tomorrow night. While eating (I had the French toast), we were treated to speeches from TV3 Network Executive Andrew Szusterman, Colin Mathura-Jeffree and Season One winner Christobelle. "Top Model was a high risk show for us," said Szusterman. "Everybody told us no one wanted to watch a New Zealand reality TV show, but Top Model was one of the highest rating shows on TV3 last year." He promised lots of drama to come. "This season you can expect lots of in-fighting and factions, young versus old, cliques and cattiness." Mathura-Jeffree said it was an honour to be on Top Model, and that it had come at just the right moment. "I was at the end of my career – I'm almost 40, you know." The audience gasped. He laughed, and pointed at his skin. "Black don't crack."
After breakfast I was given the opportunity to ask Christobelle some questions. We covered everything from getting recognised on the street to her post-school modelling plans and what she thinks of the new Top Model contestants. Full interview below.
So Christobelle, how has New Zealand's Next Top Model changed your life?
Well, now I'm modelling, and I wasn't doing that before, so that's a whole new side of life, and also all the publicity, now people know who I am more, which is random, and next year now I'll be going overseas hopefully and that wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Top Model.
Do you get recognised on the street a lot?
Yes, yes, not so much nowadays because it has been a year now, but especially at the beginning, especially like girls around my age, at cafes their parents would come up and say, 'Can I have a photo?' Yeah, but it's fun, they're really nice and sweet.
So you like the attention?
Yeah, it's been weird at times, especially when I'm with my friends. One time I was by myself and I was in a shoe shop and a woman kept staring and I knew that she had recognised me and I was just really really rude, and she asked if I was Christobelle and I just said, 'No, no I'm not,' and just like walked off. I don't even know what came over me, I was really embarrassed, I was like she so knows it's me. But I do like it most of the time.
So you're still in school? But do you still get to castings and things like that?
Umm, yeah, I don't go to so many castings, I don't know how that even works but I have been working, like after school and stuff.
What sort of stuff have you been doing?
I've been doing runway stuff for like Trelise Cooper and I did like Yvonne Benetti and um I did an advertorial for Ed Hardy...
Oh yeah, that was with Michael Whittaker.
Yes, and Hosanna (laughs), that was funny, and also I did a TV ad for Glassons and some Farmers work and did a lookbook for Karen Walker, oh God it's really hard to think. I don't really know (laughs).
Cool, and you travelled to New York and to Sydney? What happened when you met with those agencies? (Next in New York and Chic in Sydney.)
Well I stopped over in Sydney on the way to New York and I met with Chic, and they basically were quite intense, cos they knew I was going to New York, and they were like, 'Okay, you need to like prepare yourself, they're probably going to be quite harsh,' and all this stuff, and then I was getting all scared, I was like 'Oh my God New York's going to be really scary,' but then I went to New York and they were soo lovely and so casual and they were just talking to me I didn't even feel like they were judging me, you know, we just had a nice conversation, and they were like, 'Yeah, we'd be keen to take you on.' So yeah.
So you're planning on going to New York when you finish school.
I'd love to go to New York, but I've also got lots of family in London, and I've got a British passport as well so I might go over there for a while but I definitely want to take advantage of the fact that I can go to New York.
Sure. So you're saying you want to go to London on your gap year, is that going to be for modelling?
Yeah hopefully, I would love to model as much as I can and so yeah if I can I will.
So you do want to be a fulltime model.
Yes I would like to. But then I'll go to university the next year.
Cool, and Sara Tetro mentioned in an interview recently that you've been working internationally as well?
Well I did the Nivea shoot in Sydney, that's pretty much the extent of it (laughs).
And your contract with Nivea goes for the whole year right? What does it entail?
TVCs, print, events like this, I'm the ambassador so I have to do little speech things, and yeah interviews...
(Nivea publicist interjects) – And a segment in the show, you'll see Christobelle on the show this year...
Oh yeah, for a Nivea challenge. (Covers mouth in horror.) Oh my God!
(Nivea publicist interjects) – Well you were wrong anyway, so don't worry about it.
Oh, I mean... Yeah. Whooo.
Have you met the girls this season?
Yes, I have.
All the final 13?
Not 13, I met like 11.
(Nivea publicist interjects) – They were all there.
Do you have a favourite?
There's one or two that I thought were really cool, and thought they'd do really well... but yeah.
But at this stage if you had to say, 'This is the person I think is going to win the competition...'
Ummmm, no I don't really know, cos it was only like a brief few minutes when I met them, and yeah there definitely was one girl that I was like, you know, but I don't know, you know, because at the beginning you have no idea what's going to happen and I don't know.
Which one was that? What was her name?
I can't remember what her name was. I know that's terrible, I'm really bad with names, and also it was a really, really short introduction. I'm not sure what her name was.
Okay. Do you have words of advice for the Top Model contestants?
I'd say try and, like don't get too caught up in the whole thing, you know, don't like, I know the last couple of girls it would just consume their thoughts the whole time, and you'd always be like, 'Oh my God what are we going to do tomorrow?' Because you have no idea what you're going to do, so I'd say just take each day as it comes and try and stay relaxed and do make friends if you can, because obviously you're going to be in the house for like two months, and if you don't have friends you're going to have a pretty miserable time, so don't be like, 'It doesn't matter, this is a competition, I'm not here to make friends,' because that's really annoying, and yeah just try and stay true to yourself.
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