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    The model-actor
    turns ‘Tyra Banks’
    in a new fashion
    reality series
    and talks about
    what it takes to
    stay ahead

    This an art that is
    all about
    personality and
    making sacrifices
    to stay on top. Not
    everyone is cut out
    to be a model

    ITH the box office giving her performance
    in Queen and Shaukeens the
    thumbs up, Lisa Haydon is back on reality
    TV. This time, she is a judge on MTV’s
    India’s Next Top Model, the Indian adaptation
    of the American show. With big
    shoes to fill (she takes on super model
    and “brutal judge” Tyra Banks’ role in
    the original), Haydon confirms that the
    panel of judges have been chosen keeping
    in mind the format followed by the
    American series. “We have a fashion
    photographer, Dabboo Ratnani, the host
    who is VJ Anusha Dandekar, a mentor
    and stylist who is Neeraj Gaba and a
    model personality, who is me. All judges
    and mentors have been picked keeping in
    mind their area of expertise, which will
    evidently reflect in their personality so I
    guess my job is to become Tyra Banks,”
    says the model-turned actress who
    staunchly believes that modelling is not
    only about “being tall and pretty.” The
    29-year-old who has been walking the
    runway since she was 18 believes that this
    is one of the hardest yet most prestigious
    professions one could take up. “It is not
    always that a model gets to work with top
    brands and photographers so she has to
    put her best foot forward in terms of presentation.
    The job in the end is about
    understanding people around,” she says.
    Made for India
    Talking about the show, Haydon confirms
    that has been contextualised keeping
    the Indian audience in mind. “The
    tasks that involve a photo shoot, the
    challenge and weekly elimination
    has been contemporised to suit
    young Indian fashionistas in
    the country, and the prizes
    will also gear towards
    Indian fashion magazines,”
    she says, adding
    that the 13 contestants
    who are part of
    the show are all newbies
    to the industry and are a
    mixed bunch, ranging from
    first-timers hailing from tiertwo
    cities to Mumbai-based
    models. “They all come with an
    equal chance and we judge them
    based on who has transformed the
    most given that they have limited expertise,”
    she says. So how does she counter
    feminist theories on how pageants are all
    about beauty and nothing else? Hayden
    brushes them off saying that not every
    beautiful girl can become a model.
    “Speaking as someone who endorses
    women empowerment, I see this as an art
    that is all about personality and talent
    and making sacrifices to stay on top of
    the game. Not everyone is cut out to be a
    model,” she dismisses, adding that her
    biggest word of advice to her contestants,
    besides understanding the world
    of fashion and keeping up with trends, is
    to nurture relationships in the industry.
    ‘‘I always wanted to be on top of my game
    and I got here because of my relationship
    with people. I can candidly say that the
    people who choose me are ones I can genuinely
    call my friends,” says Haydon who
    is also the muse of top designers like
    Tarun Tahilani and is rumoured to be in
    Housefull 3 opposite Ritiesh Deshmukh.
    Meanwhile, when she’s not shooting or
    busy with modeling assignments, the
    watches shows such as So You Think You
    Can Dance and Big Bang Theory on the
    telly. She admits she’s been watching
    America’s Next Top Model since she was
    a little girl and reckons Cat Deeley “kills
    it” as the hottest reality TV star.
    India’s Next Top Model is on July 19 at
    7 pm, on MTV.
    —Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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