SPOILER ALERT - My The Face Episode 1 recap for People Magazine
I’m happy to announce that every week I will be blogging my experience filming The Face for People Magazine! Here’s the full version of my first entry! Keep checking back at People for more.
In what is technically the first episode of my new show The Face, the audience is introduced to “three of the biggest names in the world of modeling.” The world famous supermodel Naomi Campbell, Czech bombshell Karolina Kurkova and then some weird-looking girl named Coco Rocha… or was it Coca Roca? Oh hey, that’s me!
Last week in the casting special we hand picked our teams of four girls each. From thousands of hopefuls, Naomi, Karolina and I were presented with 24 girls, which we narrowed down to 12. The real games began as we picked our teams of four. There was a battle over the first girl who came out, a beautiful brunette named Margaux who Naomi announced she ‘had to have.’ I wasn’t going to let her go without a fight, but in the end the decision between Team Naomi or Team Coco was left up to Margaux herself. To the shock of everyone on set, Margaux picked me! What? Even I would pick Naomi over me! I later lost the battle for a Chinese glamazon named Zi Lin to Naomi but hey, one outta two ain’t bad! The next girl on my team was 23-year-old Marlee, a mom and an all-around great girl who I knew could be my chameleon. Then I picked Stephanie. Of all the contestants who made it to the top 24, Stephanie was the only one with absolutely no experience. That really excited me because I thought, here’s a blank canvas I can truly start from scratch with. The final model on my team is 26-year-old Brittany who 28-year-old Karolina Kurkova told 42-year-old Naomi Campbell was “too old” to model. Oh KK, them’s fighting words! Despite Brittany’s makeover (which made her look like she’d gotten her hair caught up in a lawn mower), I saw boldness and a fight in her, and took her onto Team Coco as my final team member.
The goal in all this is to win the coveted Ulta beauty contract, and throughout the season Naomi, Karolina and I hope to guide one of our girls to win that prize.
Episode 101 starts off with the girls moving into the loft. We are treated to some very, shall we say, “over-confident” sound bites from Christy (Team Karolina), making me glad I picked a team of humble girls. Team Naomi is a very entertaining, if not disjointed, team. The comic relief is Sandra, who announces that everyone “better watch out” - fair warning, I suppose. Naomi tells her girls she doesn’t want any fights on her team - a team of people who were already clashing five minutes into the show. This should be interesting.
Our host Nigel Barker announces that the first test shoot (sort of a practice run for the girls to really hone their skills) of the season is a “who wore it better” challenge to style yourself against a fellow cast member using the same wardrobe. In a world of paparazzi and Instagram, models are never really “off-duty” these days - we always need to leave the house looking put together. Naomi is judging this test shoot by herself and Devyn (Team Karolina) goes first, picking my girl Stephanie to go up against, adding that she picked her because she believes she is the “weakest link.” Turns out Devyn underestimated her and Stephanie wins! Yay #TeamCoco! Sandra is up next, letting us know that her personal style is “swagalicious.” She goes up against Marlee (Team Coco) and loses. As it happens, “swag on top of swag on top of swag” is NOT the look this season. The next pairing is Margaux (Team Coco) versus Aleksandra (Team Naomi) and the look they are going for is ’60s. Russian contestant Aleksandra lets us know that she doesn’t know anything about the ’60s because… well, she wasn’t born yet. Not sure how that is an excuse. I guess in Russian history they skipped straight from the 1950s to the 1970s. AGAIN, Team Coco takes the win and I’m really not sure how this is happening on Naomi’s watch. Overconfident Christy (Team Karolina) goes against her teammate Ebony and is incredulous when she loses. Zi Lin (Team Naomi) goes up against Brittany (Team Coco) and decides that she can’t fit into the pants, so she just holds them in her hand instead of wearing them. Zi Lin wins despite not wearing the pants, yet when Madeline (Team Karolina) complains that the shoes don’t fit her she is berated for complaining. So let me get this straight - crying over a small sample size is worse than just not wearing it at all? Seems inconsistent to me, but I do agree that no matter what she should have sucked it up and worn the shoes. Very rarely in modeling are you given the right size of anything (pants or shoes included) and yet you ALWAYS have to make it work - that’s your job. Welcome to modeling girls! I remember being in front of Miuccia Prada with a pair of shoes three sizes too small - I smashed my foot in there and walked like I was having the time of my life.
In the end Naomi’s girl Zi Lin wins the test shoot and a $5000 shopping spree at Topshop. This comes as a shock to some of her fellow contestants - and myself - as she styled what should be a “masculine” look with a midriff-baring, floral crop top. Masculine? Really? Personally I felt, given the direction, Margaux from my team should have won.
Up next is the girls’ first campaign. This is where the show gets serious. This is a team challenge and each team is doing a photoshoot for W Magazine. If that wasn’t a big enough deal, the photographer is the legendary Patrick Demarchelier! The girls are told that the story is uptown meets downtown and are left to come up with their own game plans. Team Karolina seems to get started well together, while Team Naomi is not cohesive at all. Sandra’s idea is basically that she beats everyone up and her teammate Jocelyn doesn’t really get too excited about that. Team Coco works together well, but they are a little apprehensive about Stephanie, who has no experience at all. We three mentors roll up in a black SUV - I’m wearing a DSquared outfit, a look that is sort of a homage to ‘90s-era Cindy Crawford. Aviator shades. Feeling like a boss. We immediately head over to our teams to see what they are thinking. Of the three mentors I am definitely the most theatrical in my posing and, as I mention on the show, I never, EVER play it safe. I push my girls to follow suit and give them the inspiration of “West Side Story meets Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’” I’m picturing this as an epic musical in my head but, in reality, I’m expecting a lot from my team.
The photoshoot begins with Team Naomi in front of Patrick’s lens. Their pictures are fine, but a little too safe for my taste. I’m also not sure of the general story they are selling. The picture just appears to be of four girls that stood and sat proudly on a bunch of old fishing dock stuff. Patrick has a very particular way of speaking with his thick French accent and Aleksandra, also foreign, has a hard time understanding him. In her defense, there were no subtitles (like the ones you’ll see on your TV screen) in real life.
Up next is Team Karolina. They all look cute, but again, just four girls randomly hanging out on stuff. Team Coco is last and we bring our everything. This is choreographed, this is scripted, there’s a story going on. We are West Side Story and we are Michael Jackson in “Beat It.” Unfortunately, Stephanie struggles to keep up. To be fair, it’s nearly impossible in a big group photo to get everyone perfect in the same shot. In shoots we nearly always cut and paste group images together, but this is not an option today. Our final picture is three out of four stars, nowhere near the perfection I had imagined. I wonder if I took an unnecessary risk in really pushing my girls this hard right off the bat.
It turns out, I did. Karolina’s “safe and nice” picture wins the campaign. I could have had my girls do this, but I pushed them for exceptional. I can’t help but feel guilty that we lost, as taking the risk was my decision.
As one of the two losing teams I had to submit one girl from my team to go up for elimination. I picked inexperienced Stephanie, the only fair decision I could make. Naomi selected Aleksandra to go up for elimination and they both plead their case before Karolina, who is in the position to pick one of the two to go home. Karolina spares Stephanie, I guess because she saw potential in her inexperience. All in all I felt it was a fair decision, but Naomi is not happy when she hears she lost the first girl on the first real challenge. Doors slam (the door would go on to slam a total of three times in this episode), and quite possibly the bravest cameraman in the history of television attempts to follow Naomi Campbell into her room. He’s immediately thrown out. Karolina comes back into the loft from the elimination room and can instantly feel the tension in the air. She asks me if she should go see Naomi and I say, “I think so,” which in retrospect was sending the lamb to the slaughter. Karolina fares no better than our intrepid cameraman and is promptly kicked out, the door slamming quite literally on her heels. After about half an hour (moments in TV land), Naomi emerges to tell Karolina in full diva style that she is “not happy with her decision.”
Well well, I guess no one told Karolina that she was supposed to be on Team Naomi.
Stay tuned to People Magazine for more.