Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FORD SUPERMODEL OF THE WORLD MALAYSIAN WINNER!

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ATIKAH FROM KOTA KINABALU, SABAH, WINS FORD MODELS SUPERMODEL OF THE WORLD SEARCH AT SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT!

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Me and Atikah, winner of 2011 Ford Supermodel of the World for Malaysia

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We stood in front of a fan at STYLO Tent but her hair flew and billowed splendidly while mine simply got pushed back and became flat!

I had an exclusive chat with Atikah the next day on Monday, 11 April at STYLO Academy in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar. I assumed she would turned up dolled to the nines in designer gear and exquisitely made-up. Instead she appeared in a Pocohontas blouse (which was outstanding) and in jeans. And without a shred of make-up! But she still looked fantastic and every inch a winner! Of course the fact Atikah is 18 may have something to do with it so ladies over 40 or even 30 should not emulate her...

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Both of us did not wear make-up but Atikah looks infinitely better.

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The Malaysian winner of

Ford Supermodel of the World, Dayang Nur Atikah binti Karim from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, almost did not make it! Ironically Atikah almost failed to make it into the semi-finals as some judges wanted another candidate but luckily organising chairman Dato Nancy Yeoh pushed for her!

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Aikah wearing the RM 100,000 Mouawad diamond pendant as part of her prizes which includes a RM 100,000 model contract with F & F.


By a bizarre and eerily scary twist, Atikah’s victory seemed to be foretold to the six thousand strong crowd waiting for Korean singer Rain to perform. Ford Models Supermodel of the World 2011 Malaysia was the opening act for Rain and emcee Bernie Chin waved the winners’ list and asked “Who do you think is the winner?”.

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We are the winners! Me with the top 3 winners; from left, second runner-up Karen, first runner-up Gabrielle Boudville, Kee Hua Chee and winner Atikah.

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First and second runners-up kissing winner Atikah

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This is more like it!

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The first runner-up is still at it!

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We can tell Gabrielle is having a breather before she kisses

again...

Below are party time pictures! Everyone had left STYLO Tent at Sepang International Circuit and only the 12 finalists, STYLO staff, organisers and models' friends were left.


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The cameras scanned the waving crowd carrying placards and clappers and projected the images onto the giant screens. The cameras zoomed in on a girl carrying a banner of her insurance company; Etiqa. Although her name is Atikah, on stage it was spelled in neons as Atiqah. As if on cue, the crowd started to chant ‘Atiqah’! In hindsight it was a stunning coincidence someone would be holding Etiqa’s promotional signboard instead of Maybank or KFC’s! Even I felt the same as I could not remember all the finalists' names so Etiqa or Atiqah was as good as any name!

Below are scenes of the stage as images of the finalists were projected onto their giant screens on both sides.

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Bernie Chin announcing the winners

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Atikah getting her RM 100,000 model contract from F & F.

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Antoine Bakache from Mouawad presenting the Heidi Klum diamond pendant necklace worth RM 100,000 to Atikah.



Atikah was such a bundle of nerves she hardly heard what the crowd was chanting. She recalls, “I was enjoying myself so much during the catwalk I thought I would be second or first runner-up. I did well on stage and felt confident. When my name was not called for the second and first runner-ups, I felt ‘kecewa’ (sad) and disappointed as I thought all hopes were gone and I started wondering who the winner would be. I never dreamed it would be me!”

When her name was called, “All I remember is being ‘blur’!” she grins. “I heard my name ‘Nur Atikah from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’ and it struck me I was the winner as there was no one else of that name! I was so blurred and felt like I was in a dream. I only knew it was real when Antoine Bakache placed the RM 100,000 Mouawad diamond pendant on my neck. It felt so cold so I knew I couldn’t be dreaming!”

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Atikah's dream came true on Sunday night, 10 April 2011

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Atikah won RM 200,000 worth of prizes and cash!

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By chance, all three main components of Malaysia produced winners! The first place went to Sabah, first runner-up Gabrielle Boudville came from Peninsular Malaysia and second runner-up Karen Lugun hailed from Sarawak! A few might even think this politically correct scenario was rigged but Dato Nancy Yeoh insisted all was aboveboard. "All 3 winners could have come from Sabah! We chose the best, not the location!"


Born in bred in Kota Kinabalu, Dayang Nur Atikah binti Karim stands at 175 cm, weighs 50 kg and is all of 18. She is the second youngest as another finalist Alicia was 16, proving youth did matter. Like most things in life, it is best to start young as practice makes perfect! I started writing at 10 and at 15 I was editor of my Sultan Ismail College's newsletter and in Universiti Malaya I was editor of my campus magazine!

After an intensive, month long training at STYLO Academy which sponsored the coaching using the proven John Robert Powers system, the 12 finalists became super boosted. When asked if her age was a stumbling block, she replies nonchalantly, “No. My age is an advantage as I am fresh, eager to learn and enthusiastic about everything. I have no baggage and am happy to obey instructions from choreographers unlike some older models who think they know everything.” So true this as some aged models dare argue with choreographers about what to do and where to stand and for how long! If models could choreograph and choreographers could model, the world would be an easier place.

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Ditto for her skin colour. Atikah is not porcelain fair, white as a lily nor rosy cheeked. In Japan, she may not be a hit. I asked if her tanned skin was a liability.

Quick as flash, she replies, “An asset. Every skin colour is nice. This is my natural skin colour given to me by God so I am grateful. I have learned to be confident with what I have. When growing up, I never felt beautiful as I was much darker as I played netball. I was considered ‘hitam’ so I was self-conscious but at 16 I begun to appreciate myself so now I am happy with myself.” Almost a Cinderella story! Plus My Fair Lady as she almost didn't make it to the semi-finals! Or Dr Doolittle?

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Atikah looks around STYLO Academy’s conference room and laughs, “Only two of us. Normally there would be a chaperone during such interviews as I am new in handling people like you. But they told me they were throwing me into the lion’s den with you and if I survived this, I can survive New York!”

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Hmmm, flattery will get her everywhere! And don’t we love double-edged compliments! It is almost like saying I am pretty..ugly! Or 'I have seen better but then I have seen worse'!

She reveals her height and hair are her biggest assets. Her figure seems fine but she demurs, “I lost some kg from the time they picked me in Kota Kinabalu. I plan to lose 5 more kg and be 45 kg which is my perfect weight." I warned her about being anorexic but at this age she probably does not know what it means. I think 45 kg is too scrawny and agencies should encourage models to be slim but NOT skinny! There is a difference you know! The waif look as propounded by Kate Moss is history and we know now how she got that skinny---by smoking heroine!

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With admirer Thomas Teh

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Top three with top two fans.


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First runner-up Gabrielle Boudville with Thomas Teh


Back to Atikah. “I haven’t cut my hair since Form 3 and they now reach my chest. Shawn Cutters trimmed 1 inch off but they are still growing. I hope they reach my waist!”

Her mother is a finance officer and dad a retired contractor. She has 2 brothers and younger sister. Will there be a stampede from her family to claim beauty titles? Atikah is brutally frank in her assessment. “I am the third child. My younger sister is too fat. My eldest brother is ordinary looking so doesn’t qualify but my second brother Saifuddin is very handsome and tall at 180cm.” She shows me his photo on her phone and he does look like a model but apparently he has never shown any interest but now that his sister has won, he should consider!

Some think her ‘Dayang’ denotes aristocracy like ‘Sharifah’, ‘Syed’ or ‘Sheikh’ but she explains her honorific title has no royal connections. “It means I am ‘Bajau Brunei’ or from Brunei as I am half Bruneian and half Sabahan. My eldest brother has ‘Awang’ in front of his name which is Mohammad Shahril and I have ‘Dayang’ as third child but my second and fourth siblings don’t have anything in front of their names. My parents just alternated our names so we have two Malaysian and two Bruneian names!”

She loved modelling since Form 4 since she had the height. “I was 168cm at 15 in Form 3. At 16 I reached my present height. I hope I can still grow as my dream is to be 180 cm. I shall think positive as I have 3 more years to go as girls stop growing at 21.

“I like modelling and fashion and I get to enjoy both working as a model. My dream was to model for Alexander McQueen but it’s too late now. I had just finished my Form 5 SPM and was planning to study Multi-Media and Design at Limkokwing University when I heard about Ford Models Supermodel of the World Malaysia in Facebook. They held the audition at Sutera Harbour hotel which was convenient as it was in Kota Kinabalu.

“I never expected to win. I took part for the experience and fun. I never liked beauty pageants and have no wish to be Miss Malaysia. All I wanted was be a model. I auditioned to see how far I could go. If nothing happened, no problem! I only felt I could be second or first runner-up on the finals night at Rain concert but even then I didn’t expect to win.”

There were 24 semi-finalists and 8 were from Sabah. The 24 semi-finalists underwent 6 days of gruelling tests before they were whittled to 12. By chance, 12 semi-finalists were from Kuala Lumpur so the remaining dozen stayed in what is known as Models House near STYLO Academy. Atikah was selected as finalist and returned to Kota Kinabalu for 2 weeks where she gymmed and dieted. All returned to Kuala Lumpur on 20 March and stayed till 11 April.

“We had the time of our life as we trained daily at STYLO Academy for a month. I really learned a lot from John Robert Powers system. We learned voice control, posture, deportment, catwalk, fashion sense, make-up, diet, health care and public speaking. I loved everything and looked forward to classes daily from 10am to 8pm. We had 2 Rest Days which I used to go shopping. No clubbing for me! Working with professional, fulltime models during the STYLO shows at Chin Woo Stadium was out of this world. I admire Angie Ng and Tengku Azura so much!”

Her mother, sister and handsome brother witnessed her triumph. “My father and eldest brother were in Jakarta. They told me they were pleasantly shocked when my name was announced. But they didn’t cry or maybe they did but by the time we met, we just hugged and jumped up and down.”

Ford Supermodel of the World 2011 finals will be in August in New York. This time Atikah is more positive. “I will do my best to bring home the title. If not, I hope to be in top 5...or maybe top 3!”

She gets a RM 100,000 model contract with F & F the new fashion label exclusive to TESCO. As for the RM 100,000 diamond pendant from Mouawad, she will treasure and wear it on her wedding day. Will she will sell it? She grimaces, “No, I will never do such a thing.”

Her plans next year after her reign?

“I hope to continue modelling. If not, there is always Limkokwing University waiting for me!” smiles the winner of Ford Models Supermodel of the World Malaysia 2011.


NOTES FROM DATO’ NANCY YEOH, ORGANISING CHAIRMAN

The judges that evening were Dato Nancy Yeoh, Calvin Cheng, licensee of Ford Models Asia Pacific and Colleen Francisca, National Director of Ford Models Supermodel of the World for Singapore, former winner, ex Miss Singapore and former Mrs Singapore! What a load this Colleen has to carry! Her name card must be double-folded. She really is stunning looking, in real life and in photos. She is a Malayalee and exquisitely made-up and groomed to an inch of her life though she wore a jacket that looks like Chanel which was too warm for the STYLO Tent though there were plenty of whirring fans.

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Colleen Francisca with Cheryl Hansen of Miss Earth Singapore.

Below show the judges in intense concentration; Calvin Cheng, Dato Nancy Yeoh and Colleen Francisca.

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Finally, the verdict is in!


Recalls Dato’ Nancy Yeoh, “We expected the winner to be from Peninsular Malaysia but I was adamant Sabah and Sarawak would be included so we flew there to scout for participants. Most told me it was a waste of time going to Sabah and Sarawak unless we were looking for 4 ft 8 inch baboons from the jungles! Now my rude friends have to eat their words!

“Atikah was the last to be selected to enter the semi-finals because she was ‘senget’ or sloped her shoulder to one side. However this was just a bad habit which could be rectified by STYLO Academy. Atikah had such a fresh, stunning face and obvious raw talent but it was a toss-up between her and another girl. I told her I was giving her a chance of a lifetime so she had better make the best of it! We are not just interested in what they are but what they can be!”

Atikah had to lose weight but her potential was obvious. “Even so, I didn’t realise I was looking at the 2011 winner!” chuckles Dato Nancy Yeoh. “During the month long stay, a few finalists had a head start. But Atikah was very disciplined, obeyed instructions, punctual and enthusiastic. She did everything she was told. She didn’t monkey around and soon she caught up and overtook the rest. She was a bit shy but now after John Robert Powers courses, she is a confident young lady. She is quiet but when on stage, she transforms dramatically and takes on a different persona!”

Atikah should be like me; flashy in real life, flashier on stage and flashiest on TV!

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