It’s the second week of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, and another group of girls have been sent home by our aesthetic quartet of judges. Cue tears… Tonight it was Anna Vokes who got the boot and we caught up with her to chat about modelling pranks, the B&INTM ‘brand’ and how all the girls who bullied her at school have been asking to meet up..
What made you apply?
It’s always been a show that I’ve loved watching, and it always used to be a joke each year that my freinds would be like “why don’t you just go for it!” and then one year, I said “right, just to shut you up, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna fail!” I got through one stage, then the next, then the next… then I’m in the top 20.
You mentioned that you had a tough time at school. How did that effect you on the show?
It made me a better person. I’ve always had very low confidence, and had issues at school and issues at home. I’ve never been a confident person, but those issues taught me to always be a happy person. On the show, I do come across as a hyper, bubbly person. The fact is, I’ve gone through worse – I always tell the girls to be positive..
Did you go on the show with the intent of getting more confidence?
Yes and no. It wasn’t just about me getting confidence, I was doing it to show other people to get confidence. Alot of people have been bullied, and bullying is a big issue these days. For someone like my self who was bullied quite viciously, to say I was on this show, it’s been brilliant. All the people that bullied me at school are now trying to contact me and be all like “I knew you could do it!” well – no you didn’t!
So they’ve come out of the woodwork then?
Absolutely. “Oh you’re so pretty these days blah blah blah we should get together sometime.” I literally just reply back; “no.”
When the judges are evaluating the contestants, they have a bit of a joke at their expense. Did you have a thick skin for this?
Oh yeah. In this show, you’re not always gonna get the most positive feedback. You can’t go into the show thinking they’re going to praise you all the time. If something’s wrong they tell you, so next time you can change it. That’s what it’s about. You don’t want them to go “oh you’re brilliant, fantastic” and then be sent home.
Elle said she’s looking for someone with an “x factor” – what is it?
They need to represent the brand that is Next Top Model and a new area of models. It used to be just the pretty faces but now the reason why supermodels are supermodels and why people know model’s names is the fact is that they are a personality as well.
Is there an emphasis on confidence?
Yeah, because if you’re not confident in yourself, then you’re not gonna be able to sell it. If you’re the prettiest girl in the world but you don’t believe it, then no one else is.
Were you given a fair chance on the show?
I was given a fair chance, yeah. Obviously I wish I had a bit more time in there, but they got to see my personality – they got to see me, which I thought was a very good thing about this cycle. They did make more of an effort to get to know you, rather than; “here’s some clothes, do a shoot, then we’ll eliminate you”. This time they wanted to see you..
You went fairly early, and there were over a dozen girls at that stage. If there were less girls, if you were spending more time with the judges, would it be different?
Elle took a shine to me, and they were liking my personality. But Whitney said it was a bit too much for her, which I understand. People get that first impression from me. When I met the girls in London, they were like “woah, full on!”, but when we went to Dubai and spent more time together, they realised it’s just my nature. I can be quite a calm person.
Do you think the judges know what they’re looking for, or do they make it up on the spot?
I think generally, their opinions change each week. They need to see the different looks of a girl. If a girl is just a ‘standard pretty’ she’s not going to be able to do commercial one shoot, and high fashion the next, but for the show, they need a girl that can do both.
What’s the audition process like?
It was quite weird, it’s very much ‘if you don’t hear anything by this date you havn’t got through’, so you’re counting down to that date. The day we were told the top 20, you had to hang around for a phone-call, and then they extend it for another week! You don’t see the judges. Just producers and people that work for the show. They ask you questions about yourself, how you look, what your personality is. The next stage was in London, where you’re being watched to see how you interact with other girls – games and scenarios are set up to see how you are. You have to make a video for Elle aswell as a photo. You’re stood there in a bikini in front of Model 1 and the producers, they want to see your walk, how you are. It’s pretty much like in Dubai but without the judges. You have to go through a psychological exam.
Where they gauging to see any volatile personalities? Any clashes?
Of course, it’s reality TV. You can’t just have beautiful girls, that won’t make a good show. They want different personalities. They wanted the whole package.
Madeline seems to rub people up the wrong way…
Girls are gonna be like that. People get the wrong impression from me sometimes. It’s just how it is. When you’ve got 20 girls who are seen as bitchy, people are gonna rub each other the wrong way. Sometimes it’s first impressions, sometimes it’s a long term thing.
Madeline maintains she’s not being antagonistic, is that the case?
It is and it isn’t. She’s a very opinionated person, and I respect that. She’ll say what she thinks. It’s just how it’s said can be offensive and you can take it to heart.
Will you be coming back next year?
Yes. The auditions start in October and you never know what’s going to happen in the next six months, so you have to play it by ear really.
Would you do anything differently?
I’m not going to change who I am. This has given me experience, so over the next three months I’m going to get some more modelling experience, so where my personality was good and my shots let me down, I can improve on that, and next time they can see I’ve taken everything on board.
Do you think the judges have any favorites yet?
Well Julien was seen to have a favorite, I think that was Ritacat. It varies each week. When you’re dissapointed in a favourite you tend to go for another one.
A lot of the audience is going to be young girls – and young boys! What would you tell them about the modelling industry?
People see the modelling industry as a fake, plastic and bitchy environment, but honestly, it isn’t. It’s just how it used to be perceived. It’s more open – 10 years ago they weren’t a massive fan of girls with tattoos and piercings, now some of the most famous models in the world are tattoeed and peirced. They are very open to you as your personality and how you look, rather than before which was how you looked.
Was that a conscious change within the industry?
Yes, definatly. They were realising after a while that if people are going to follow brands and follow campaigns, they want to engage with the models aswell. When you see a model “outside” and they’re a nice person, you’re gonna follow the campaigns, buy the clothes they wear, simple as.
What was your funniest moment on the show?
Me and Fiona were roomates, and she’s a good impressionist. We decided to prank call the girls to say there’s a surprise elimination and they needed to pack their bags and Elle was going to meet them outside the door! That was brilliant!
Who fell for that one?
Penny, Anita, Madeline – loads! Then we weren’t allowed to do it anymore! They found it hilarious, although Penny didn’t take it too well. It lifted people’s spirits, because it was when everyone was worried that they were going home!