MANILA, Philippines – Despite the odds, Malaysia's Sheena Liam bagged the title of Asia's Next Top Model (AsNTM) for the show's second season. In the process, Liam beat two Philippine representatives, Jodilly Pendre and Katarina Rodriguez.
The finale was set at Malaysia's Tanjong Jara Resort in Kuala Terengganu, where the finalists were made to deliver emotional performances in an editoral shoot that depicted "kampung life" (village life).
All-three ladies delievered walks worthy of the title in a well attended final runway event that included UK-based Malaysian fashion designer Jimmy Choo.
The all-male Australian hip-hop dance and pop music group Justice Crew performed during the episode, while Indonesia's representative to the competition, Janice Hermijanto, whom most of the girls took issue with during the previous episodes, got to make a comeback hosting a runway show.
During the final judging the ladies were first judged on their final photo. Filipino Katerina Rodriguez was sent home first. Judges noted how far she had grown as a model but said she was more of a beauty model than an editorial one.
Top Model Host Nadya Hutagalung told her, "I'll never forget the first time I saw you pose, it was terrible." Resident photographer Judge Mike Rosenthal added, "You have done such a great job of listening us and processing our feedback."
The final deliberation was based on their final walk and their overall performance. Pendre received the better critique of the two, model coach Adam Williams called her performance, "spectacular." But it was Liam's overall look that gave her the win, she was called "current" and the "face of modern Asia."
Liam's journey to the top wasn't easy. She first tried out for the first cycle of Asia’s Next Top Model. Standing 173 centimeters tall, Liam decided to complete her studies before pursuing a career in modeling seriously.
Throughout the show's second cycle, she's been a standout due to her bleached-blonde hair and pouty lips.
In an interview with Venusbuzz.com, Liam explained how her strategy in the show changed when she finally got to meet her competitors.
"When I got into the competition, I wanted to be quiet and not stand out at first but when I got there and I saw the level of competition I was pitched against, I couldn’t stick to my original plan," Liam told Venusbuzz. "I had to go all out and really push my hardest before each shoot because you make one mistake, and you can be cut out."
During the show, she excelled in photoshoots and repeatedly received positive feedback from the judges but on the show's 4th episode, she was called out for "playing too safe" in one of their photo shoots. Since then, Liam took into heart the judges' comments and starting putting in a little extra in her poses and aiming for something unique.
In Episode 11 of the show, Liam succeeded in being the first to be called out among the girls. They shot a campaign with Malaysia Airlines for the said episode but was omitted due to the Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing on March 8.
AsNTM decided not to air the episode out of respect to the general situation, but a recap of episode 11 was posted on the show's official YouTube channel.
Finalists Pendre and Rodriguez both went through a lot to get to the finals.
Pendre, tall and morena, was already a model in the Philippines prior to joining AsNTM. She had been walking the runway for Philippine Fashion Week and other runway shows and posing for various campaigns.
She finished her information systems degree at the University of Santo Tomas while modeling on the side.
Much was expected of her during the show's entire duration due to her experience and feisty personality.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is currently pursuing her literature degree at De La Salle University. She's an athlete who always wanted to give modeling a try. Her friends pushed her to try out for AsNTM.
Rodriguez was always referred to as a "diamond in the rough" throughout the show for having no professional experience prior to AsNTM. Her hardwork and willingness to learn eventually paid off and she found herself in the finals.
Both Pendre and Rodriguez got to be first call-outs in a couple of episodes, proving that their modeling skills were at par with their fellow Asian contestants.
The two Filipinas' success in the show follows Filipina representative Stephanie Retuya's in AsNTM Cycle 1.
Retuya was a runner-up to Thailand's Jessica Amornkuldilok. – Rappler.com