Reality check for ex-New Face winner
Catfights, tears, spite and plenty of drama.
These are ingredients that often make for good reality television.
At times, the nasty conflicts in reality TV shows might appear scripted.
That is what SupermodelMe Season 5 contestant Sharin Keong thought before she joined the reality modelling television series.
Her impression quickly changed after shooting began.
The New Paper New Face 2012 winner told The New Paper: "There is no acting involved. Before, when I watched other modelling series, I thought it would be scripted. Maybe they would give a certain person this particular character, but what you see in the show is what really happens."
Called SupermodelMe Sirens, the latest season debuts on Nov 24 at 8pm on Diva (StarHub Channel 513).
The series has 12 aspiring female models of Asian parentage taking on physically demanding challenges and competing to further their careers in the cutthroat industry.
The winner will receive $35,000 and other prizes from key sponsors, the chance to grace covers of leading fashion magazines, and a contract with an international modelling agency.
Singapore is represented in the series by Keong and Shi Lim, who was Miss Universe Singapore 2013.
Television hosts Dominic Lau and Lisa Selesner and model-actress Ase Wang are the resident judges on the show.
Keong, 22, a full-time childcare teacher, said that staying in the same house with 11 other female contestants inadvertently brings out the tension among contestants.
"Maybe for some, being bitchy is a strategy. For me, I don't think there was any incident that forced me to be bitchy. I'm just being myself. (This competition) did not bring out the worst in me," said the freelance model, who is 1.72m tall and weighs 50kg.
Her peers had different expectations of the outspoken contestant before the competition.
"Friends thought I would be one who would start a fight because they think I'm bitchy," she revealed, admitting that she "can be".
Keong said she did not get into any fights on the show.
But, she said: "Once, I was injured pretty badly and it affected my photo shoot. But I was left alone by myself while everyone did their own things. No one came forward to help me.
"That was also when I realised that it's 'game on' for these girls and it's every woman for herself."
She also revealed that some contestants thought she was faking her injury to gain the sympathy of the judges.
Keong had joined the competition prepared for the mental and emotional challenges.
"I knew what I was getting into, but I wanted to use this as a platform for me to venture out. I don't want to be constrained here. I want to go to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Milan," said the ambitious model.
Since her win in the TNP New Face competition in 2012, she has been on the runway at Digital Fashion Week Singapore and Fide Fashion Week and she fronted a campaign for local brand Giordano last year.
"I won the TNP New Face competition so I know I have the substance to be a good model... why not try?" she said candidly.
The competition in TNP New Face and SupermodelMe was different, she said.
"SupermodelMe's contestants were already in the industry and experienced while TNP New Face saw modelling newbies or first timers. It was (more pressurising) because I really need to step up my game to get somewhere in the competition," she explained.
Her advantage in SupermodelMe?
Keong says it is her oriental look.
"I was hoping it would bring me to the Top 3 at least or maybe even lead me to win the competition. The winners are usually Caucasians...I thought, let me be the turning point," she said.
Twins support each other
ALL-SMILES: Brazilian-Japanese twins Gabriela (left) and Raffaella Leonardo are among the 12 contestants in the new fifth season of SupermodelMe.
Be prepared to see double in the latest season of SupermodelMe.
Brazilian-Japanese identical twins Gabriela and Raffaella Leonardo, 22, are among the 12 contestants in the competition.
Double the trouble, double the threat?
The sisters disagree, but they think their united front gets under the skin of fellow contestants.
"She's my biggest supporter and I'm hers... I'm sure it annoys the others sometimes," said Raffaella, who goes by Raffi and is older by a minute.
The pair might be fighting for the same prize in the gruelling competition, but they do not see each other as threats.
"We will be proud of the one that stays and be happy because we both grew from this. We're equally competitive, yes, but we like to look for the best in each other," said Raffi.
It might be comforting to have a twin onboard but Gabriela, or Gabi, said that it made things difficult in the beginning.
"It's hard for anyone to distinguish the difference between us on the spot. But as we went into the competition, we accentuated our individual strengths. We live by the motto 'You do what you do, I do what I do'," she said.
So who's better? The judges had asked the twins that awkward question in one episode.
"I think my sister would like for me to win and vice versa. I will never sabotage her and say she's lacking something that I have," said Gabi.
The pair started modelling in their teens and do mainly commercials and are now based in Thailand.
Both are teaching themselves the Ayurveda (a traditional Indian system of medicine), as Gabi puts her business degree at Boston's Bentley University on hold to pursue modelling. They hope to use SupermodelMe Season 5 as a platform to venture into modelling in Europe.
The reality TV series will see them face their fear of heights and also have them riding in an ostrich race.
Will there be rivalry or drama from Raffi and Gabi?
Be prepared for disappointment. The sisters claim they do not flash their claws on the show.
"We bicker, but we do that at home anyway (like all siblings). It could be about borrowing each other's clothes, small things like that," said Raffi.
"We're more similar than anything... we have the same vibe," said Gabi.
Beyond modelling, they also hope that the show opens doors for them to pursue a career in entertainment.
"As children, we'd get our family to sit down and make them watch us perform for them," said Raffi.
Gabi added: "The limelight never scared us. We like it.
"We like entertaining and being humorous."
She's my biggest supporter and I'm hers... I'm sure it annoys the others sometimes.
- Raffaella Leonardo on her identical twin Gabriela. They are both SupermodelMe contestants.