Britain’s Next Top Model: We Talk To Harleen & Susan

This week’s instalment of frivolous fashionista-fest Britain’s Next Top Model saw a Celtic cull with lovely Oirish Susan (pictured) and sassy Scot Harleen both ousted from the show. We caught up with them both to talk about their experiences in the cut-throat world of catwalk…

Afternoon girls, last night’s episode saw both of you leave the competition, with Susan’s departure being particularly harsh. Has your experience of participating in the program disheartened you at all?

Harleen: Obviously I was disappointed to go out but I enjoyed the whole experience so much and it was great fun working with Elle and getting to do all of the challenges and tasks with the other girls.

Susan: I was disappointed to go and I know that the business can be ruthless but I haven’t taken it to heart. I’ll still carry on modeling and being involved with the show was very satisfying even though I didn’t make it to the end.

Harleen, you’ve said since leaving that you didn’t feel comfortable with some of the things you were asked to do on the show, in particular the lingerie shoot. Do you think that you were exploited in any way?

Harleen: I don’t think I felt exploited per se, but I do think that it was perhaps a little bit more than I expected. I’ve obviously seen the show before and know that in every series the girls are asked to do something that’s a bit risqué – in the last series they did a naked photoshoot. I’d prepared myself mentally to do something like that but what I wasn’t prepared for was to be asked to writhe around on a bed almost having a threesome. I think that they could have come up with a scenario that was a little less extreme, but they wouldn’t do because that because it wouldn’t have made good TV.

Did the lingerie shoot experience taint your view of the industry a little? Did you expect to be pushed to those sorts of levels?

Harleen: The whole point of the show is to see if you have what it takes to make it as a top model. Being pushed to your limits and being tested to see if you can cope with the pressures is what the judges are looking for. You might not have to go to those levels in the ‘real world’ but they need to know if you can do it and I did it and performed despite not feeling entirely comfortable. The experience for me was a mixed one; it was very difficult at times but also incredibly enjoyable.

Susan: We put ourselves up for everything that we did on the show and were under no illusions as to why we were there and knew that we’d have to do some things we found difficult. I can totally understand where Harleen is coming from though, her upbringing is different to mine and I can see why she was upset at being asked to something at odds with her culture.

The modelling industry is quite bitchy. Did living in such close quarters with your competitors lead to any

Harleen Kaur Nottay
back-biting or sniping?

Tensions are so high in the house as there was a lot of pressure on us, but every time the girls said anything nasty to someone, they were all really apologetic afterwards. Sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment – we all go on really well at the launch, it’s just when you’re in that environment, tempers get frayed from time to time.

Susan: In the episode when we both left, there was a bit of a disagreement with Amba and the rest of us which came about after she accused us of stealing her poses. She could be quite intimidating at times and rile people but I don’t think she meant to it maliciously. She was just being Amba.

Is there anyone you got with particularly well and will be keeping in touch with after the show has ended?

Susan: I speak on the phone with Amelia every week. Her family are all so lovely and Welsh, I love their accents!

Harleen: Me and Rachelle are really close and I’ll keep in touch with her. I’m actually going to see her after this interview.

Is Elle as lovely as she seems and did you get the opportunity to spend time with her?

Harleen: Elle is lovely and it was fantastic to work with her. It was also quite intimidating though as she’s an international superstar and being in her presence was quite overwhelming at first. That all disappeared though as we got to her know her as she’s so nice to get on with.

Susan: We didn’t get to spend that much time with her, what you see on camera is basically how it happened. Of course we’d have liked to but we also know that she’s a one of the world’s most recognizable models – we didn’t expect her to be mollycoddling us.

Finally, we asked Rachelle this question last week and we’ll probably be asking it until the end of the series – how annoying would you say Tiffany’s voice is?

Susan: Awww…I love Tiffany. The more you get to know her the more you realize that her voice is actually hilarious. She made me laugh a lot with some of the things she came out with, like when she had her hair cut and she was like (adopts deadpan Tiffany accent) “I look ridiculous. I look like a farmer-boy!â€? She’s a character and the voice works for her.

What are your future plans then now you’ve left the house? Do you plan to continue perusing a modeling career or do you have other opportunities that you want to explore?

Harleen: A modeling career is quite short-lived and I always planned to continue with my studies regardless how well I did or didn’t do on the show. For the moment, I’m going to keep at the modeling as it’s something I love doing but I’m definitely going to complete my degree, even if it means taking a year out should the modeling take off.

There are so many things that I want to do –I love modeling but I also act and do photography. I really enjoyed the experience but winning and making it was not the be all and end all for me as I have other strings to my bow. I’ve been acting as well as modeling for the last five years and I’d say that the acting is probably my main focus and what I’d want to succeed with most.