Second time's the charm for New Face 2018 winner
American actress-model Tess Smolens, 17, wins 26th edition of The New Paper New Face
When she auditioned for The New Paper New Face three years ago, Tess Smolens only made it through the first round.
Then 14, she went to America, where she joined several talent competitions.
With her newfound experience and training, Tess, 17, returned to Singapore and took part in New Face this year.
Last night, the actress-model was crowned the winner of The New Paper New Face 2018, winning herself $10,000 in cash, $2,000 worth of hair services from Kelture Salon and an exclusive feature in Cleo magazine.
It proved to be a night for young winners, as Jane Fernandez, 18, was first runner-up, while Cheri Teo, 16, was second runner-up.
They won $5,000 and $3,000 cash respectively, coupled with $500 worth of hair services from Kelture Salon each.
The New Paper New Face 2018 is the 26th annual run of TNP's signature event.
The finals were held at the Bugis+ Atrium yesterday evening.
The venue was packed last night, as members of the public and supporters filled the areas around the atrium and peered over the railings from the floors above.
The 15 New Face finalists strutted down the runway dressed to the themes of Desert Rose, Cabana Glam and Offbeat Chic, drawing applause and deafening cheers.
Supporters were also seen holding up signs and placards to cheer their favourite contestants on.
The crowd and judges were also entertained by a special guest performance by singers Marc Than and New Face alumna Hashy Yusof, who performed several duets together.
For Tess, an American, it has been a long road back.
When she was in Los Angeles two years ago, she was scouted to compete in child talent showcase Premiere in Los Angeles, where she placed second.
She also signed with an acting agent from The Savage Agency and talent manager Jackie Reid, and trained with a Hollywood acting coach.
In Los Angeles, she even competed in talent competition iPop, after which she received more than 40 callbacks from acting and modelling agents and managers.
Speaking to TNP fresh from her win, Tess said her family has been her greatest support, with all of them just focusing on her the past few days.
"Hearing my dad say 'go Tess' while I was walking the runway really pumped energy into me," she said.
"My family, especially my sister, have been so supportive."
Her sister, 16-year-old Kaitlyn Smolens, was seen with her head buried in study notes before and after the show. She is taking her O-level Chemistry paper today.
But during the show, when Tess appeared on the runway, Kaitlyn was seen cheering her sister on enthusiastically.
New Face alumna Julie Tan, an actress and entrepreneur, and one of the judges yesterday, said she sees Tess doing both acting and modelling, for both magazine spreads and the runway.
"I love that Tess is so full of energy and confidence, plus she's cute," said Ms Tan.
The other judges were Ms Diana Wong, deputy general manager of Motor Image Enterprises, Ms Angie Soon, chief executive of Cosmoprof Academy, Ms Smita DeSouza, beauty editor of Cleo Singapore, and Mr Eugene Wee, editor of The New Paper.
Mr Wee said: "After more than two decades, The New Paper New Face contest continues to help spot undiscovered talents who may start their journey on our runways, but go on to walk in London, Paris, Milan and other fashion capitals around the world.
"With the strength of the finalists we saw tonight, we hope to be doing this for many years to come."
Winners of The New Paper New Face 2018
Over the years, The New Paper New Face contestants have gone on to make a name for themselves, including actresses Constance Lau, Joey Pink Lai, Julie Tan and Atikah Suhaime, entrepreneurs Nura J and Velda Tan, and models Jean Yong and Diya Prabhakar.
Last night's winners were:
Yap Yu Jun
Miss Beautiful Hair
The New Paper