Say you're a woman of a certain age and never took that chance to venture into the world of fashion modeling. With a business obsessed with young beauty, is it too late? TV Land doesn't think so. The second season of its hit reality competition show "She's Got The Look" kicks off tonight with thousands of over-35 women auditioning for the coveted slots on the show. Serving as judges are Sean Patterson (President of Wilhelmina Models), supermodel Beverly Johnson and celebrity stylist Robert Verdi while famed model Kim Alexis hosts the series. The potential model that 'has the look' will take home $100,000, a Wilhelmina modeling contract and a photo spread in "Self" magazine. Alexis talked to our Jim Halterman about the surprises she saw in this new season as well as how the judges factor in any plastic surgery with the contestants and what she thinks is the one thing you need to possess to be a successful model.
Jim Halterman: You have had such a long career as a model, how does it feel to be on the other side?
Kim Alexis: I don't do it in the gloating way. I do it from a position of 'been there, done that.' So, it is much better to be on my side than theirs. I have been there so I know what they're going through and I believe when I deliver most of my lines � maybe not the "I'm sorry, you gotta go" thing � that I try to tell them something that would be helpful to them to be a better person or be a better model.
JH: With the women being over 35, are their habits harder to break than models just starting out in their teens or 20's?
KA: Yes, I think they really are especially when it comes to what they think they look good in - either what they are wearing or their hair or makeup. They start to get stuck in a rut. It's amazing.
JH: Were you surprised at who blossoms and who doesn't in the course of the entire season?
KA: Yes, and that factored in during the last season, too. It's just some transform and they take everything you say and really just use it and you can just see them develop and turn into someone who is confident and successful. I mean, they were beautiful but it brings out the better parts of them. Others are just, 'You know what? I've had enough of this.' And they can't take it or it's not for them or whatever. The show is up in their face and their body language and a lot of stuff especially by the end.
JH: So much of being successful in the modeling world seems to be the models stepping outside of their comfort level. How important is that in the modeling world?
KA: When you're a model, you don't have anything to rely on but yourself because you are always in a new place with new people. You can't rely on how your hair or makeup looks. When most women go to work, they go and they park in the same spot, work with the same people, eat lunch in the same spot; everything is already pre-established. They know who their boss is or they might like to wear suits or flats or their hair a certain way. With a model you don't have any of that. Everything is stripped. You're always with different people, your look is always different and you're put in different situations so that's what these women have to learn. You can't rely on these things that you've been relying on in the past. You have to be strong, figure out who you are on the inside and make it work on the outside.
JH: How much drama will we see in terms of how the women get along with each other? Is it what you expected or are you surprised at what happens?
KA: You'll see drama. There are some girls and their jaws just drop and that would be me. I would be like 'Wow, what's your problem?' But each person is different, I guess, and some are really into drama and are happy with that and others are not. You can see that some of the girls might be uncomfortable and others are just trying to get it off their chest.
JH: Plastic surgery is such a big part of our society now especially as women get older. Does that play into the show at all?
KA: It's not something we highlight or really bring up. There may be comments made by judges but it's not as important as trying to get them to present themselves in their best way. So it's not like you're really holding it against them unless they might be using it as a crutch. If it just compliments nicely in terms of the whole package and they're not highlighting it, then we don't highlight it.
JH: What are some of the competition challenges in the course of the season?
KA: They will be outside shooting in very cold weather in their underwear. They will be doing an ad on trampolines. They will be facing their fears in a photo. Those are some of the things that they have to go through.
JH: That sounds fun.
KA: It's fun unless you know what your fear is and you have to face it.
JH: OK, so maybe fun to watch but not so fun to do?
KA: There you go!
JH: You've been vocal about your faith in the past. In general, does that faith ever conflict with the modeling business?
KA: Yes, I guess so, because the modeling business can be construed as art and art can be so liberating and so general. There were certain things even when I was younger that people would think was art and I thought 'Nope, that's just taking your top off and I don't want to do it.' It wasn't comfortable for me so I would have to say no. For the most part, things are fine and there's no real big deal about anything but once in awhile any woman is going to find herself in a situation where she's not comfortable and you have to be strong enough to walk away.
JH: Are any of your kids in the modeling business or aspire to be? Are you supportive of that knowing what you know about the business?
KA: My three sons, no. My oldest tried for a little bit in Miami and it didn't work. Then my younger step-daughter � she's 21 � she loves the hair and makeup and she's out in LA and she's done a little bit of modeling. She's short but she's done a little bit of it but it's just who she is. She's always been that way so I think she'll end up in hair and makeup. She's just always looked at fashion and always looked at hair and makeup and always wanted to volunteer to do people's hair and makeup and that was from a very young age so you gotta let your kids be who they're going to be.
JH: What is the one piece of advice you'd give to anyone of any age who wants to enter the modeling business?
KA: To know who you are and what's important to you, what drives you, to have a good solid foundation of you yourself and your parameters because then you'll be more confident when you're meeting people and that will show up in the photographs. Some of these young girls when you see them, they don't know quite who they are yet, they haven't found themselves yet. You see a lot of the deer in the headlights looks. It's good to know to have a solid foundation of who you are on the inside and let that be portrayed to other people on the outside. That's all you've got.
The second season of "She's Got The Look" premieres tonight at 9:00/8:00c on TV Land.