Amanda and Kelsey. Our podium-perfect Next Top Model and the girl who is turning her silver medal into gold. By Rachel Sharp.
Every supermodel has to start somewhere. For Kate Moss, that magic happened at an airport, where she was spotted by a model scout. Claudia Schiffer’s moment came at a nightclub. Gisele BŁndchen was discovered in a McDonald’s in S„o Paulo, while Heidi Klum won a European modelling competition when still in high school. And Miranda Kerr first found the spotlight as victor of the Dolly cover girl competition in 1997.
On a regular day, the winner of Foxtel network’s Australia’s Next Top Model would use the title and prize haul — which this year included a starring role on BAZAAR’s November cover, a feat many great models aspire to their entire careers — to grab the industry’s attention. But this year’s ANTM finale was no regular day. Thanks to an error of now world-famous proportions, whereby runner-up Kelsey Martinovich’s name was wrongly announced on live television before eventual winner Amanda Ware, both aspiring models have been catapulted onto the international stage via global news bulletins and the internet.
With public voting neck and neck right up to the final seconds of the live finale, one thing is clear: both finalists won the hearts of the public and proved themselves worthy winners throughout the series. Both are beautiful, but more importantly, have that inexplicable “X factor” that helps translate genetic gifts into international modelling work.
“Both girls have amazing careers ahead of them — and both are deserving of covers,” says BAZAAR editor Edwina McCann. “They are fine young women who handled themselves with grace and humility under media fire — proof in my books that they have what it takes to cope with instant celebrity. Both covers are beautiful. Both girls are beautiful, inside and out.” Because BAZAAR’s philosophy is to embrace the excessive in appreciation of talent and beauty, we are breaking the rules to celebrate both women as November cover stars — a first for us as a magazine, and a unique opportunity for readers to choose the Top Model they most love. Or both.
“Being a BAZAAR cover girl is a real privilege. I hope [both] understand just how much of a head start she’s got,” says photographer Simon Lekias, who shot Ware, Martinovich and third finalist Sophie Van Den Akker for our cover stories-in-waiting (each was ready and awaiting the final verdict). “It was great to have the opportunity to work with these girls and watch them embark on a true adventure.”
When Amanda Ware watched last year’s ANTM final at her home on Queensland’s Gold Coast, it never occurred to her that she should join the aspiring hopefuls this season. “I didn’t think I was good enough to be there — I didn’t think I was beautiful,” says the clearly gorgeous Ware, who, at just 17 years of age, already measures 176cm in height.
“I still don’t really believe I’ve won,” she told BAZAAR straight after the final, laughing. “But I suppose I’ll get there in the end.”
Despite the confessed crisis of confidence that was obvious to both judges and viewers at the start of the series, Ware, quite rightfully, has self-belief in buckets now. Two weeks before the final, when BAZAAR asked her who she thought would win, her reply was frank. “I think I’ve got all the assets they’re looking for, all the attributes that will make me a better model in the real world — my versatility, for one … I can be transformed into something completely different.”
While she’s spent years getting used to well-meaning strangers telling her she should be a model, it was ANTM that offered her a “crash course” in how difficult the job really is. “Modelling is harder than I ever thought it would be. It’s not just you working by yourself and standing there. You’ve got the photographer, who has to get the right lighting; the stylist, who makes the clothes look right; the makeup artist; the hair … Then you yourself have to have a great body shape, and make your face as alive, or as alluring, or whatever the brief is, as the client wants. There are so many different elements that have to work together.”
It also means stepping way outside your comfort zone. “In the first episode, during Australian fashion week, we were just thrown into it. There were professional models and stylists running around and I [thought], ‘OK, where’s the changing room?’ They were like, ‘Just drop your daks [in front of everyone], get changed and get out there.’ Now it’s like second nature to strip off and get on with it.” But the real “penny-drop” moment where it all “came together” in front of the camera for the first time happened during this BAZAAR shoot with Lekias, she says. “Everything just clicked into place. I was in the Cťline leather dress, and the sun just came out, and we started getting these really good shots. That’s one of the most memorable moments of all the shoots.”
Despite now being a household name herself, Ware admits she’s in awe of other Australian models of the moment, with Jess[ica] Hart being her favourite. “She’s such an Aussie girl and representing Aussie brands. Then there’s Bambi [Northwood-Blyth] and Samantha Harris, who are like mega-stars right now. I see them everywhere.” Elle Macpherson’s recorded message to the winner that aired on the final episode left Ware open-mouthed with shock on stage. “Oh, my God, it was just amazing. I haven’t even met Elle yet and she said congratulations.”
The value of her first magazine cover being for an international luxury masthead isn’t lost on Ware either. “It’s a big leg-up in the industry and I’m so excited. I just want to get out there and do it. I hope to go international, but I want to make
a base here in Australia first.” She reflects on the events leading up to her being announced the winner with her usual laidback calm. “I had no idea what was happening. I was like, ‘Well done, Kelsey … Good on you for doing it.’ I was really happy for her. But then they [said], ‘No, it’s a mistake — Amanda, you’ve won’, and I was like, ‘Sweet!’,” she says, adding that she has nothing but admiration for Martinovich. “We’ve all come so far and it’s an amazing experience. This time she didn’t win, but she’s going to go so far.”
If news of the shocking Australia’s Next Top Model finale were to reach Cindy Crawford (and there’s every chance it has, with the buzz surrounding the announcement mistake going global), she’d probably have a kind word for runner-up Kelsey Martinovich. Crawford was just two years younger than Martinovich when she came second in Elite Model Management’s Look of the Year competition in 1983. The runner-up tag didn’t stop her becoming one of the most revered supermodels in history.
That Martinovich, 19, has a shining career ahead of her is obvious. Her shy-but-cheeky personality captured the public’s heart and her stunning looks saw her win the coveted U By Kotex Platinum campaign during the ANTM series, but it was her composure after the now-famous finale blunder that really proved she’s a class act: trying to comfort a clearly mortified Sarah Murdoch onstage; smiling graciously for countless photos with fans long after filming stopped; and reiterating to BAZAAR the following morning how sorry she was to have “stolen Amanda’s light”. The former Zimmermann shop assistant, who grew up in the beach town of Lennox Head, northern New South Wales, says she genuinely believes she achieved what she set out to do on ANTM.
“I didn’t enter this competition for the title,” she says. “I entered it because I want a career. I just wanted the industry to see that even though I was a little bit shorter, I can do this, and I think I proved that. [Martinovich’s height is considerably
shorter than most runway models, but matches that of Kate Moss.] The prizes such as the Kotex campaign are just a bonus. I was just so thrilled to be up there on the stage with the finalists.”
“I do feel so bad for Amanda,” she says of the eventual winner. “She won fair and square, and I feel like I took a big moment away from her ... [But] she’s so beautiful, I’m sure she has an
amazing career ahead of her.”
Despite the heart-stopping process, Martinovich agrees that the fallout from the finale has definitely been to her advantage. The day after the finale involved back-to-back media interviews for Martinovich — a rarity for runners-up in a reality-television showdown. “A friend told me it was on international news. Oh, my God, that’s just crazy. I still can’t get my head around it. It’s a surreal feeling.“ “[The mistake] was kind of a blessing in disguise. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten the Harper’s BAZAAR cover, and that was the thing that I really wanted most. Even though I’m runner-up, I feel like I’ve won.”
Martinovich’s ambition has been fermenting for a long time. Her first taste of modelling came when her mother entered her in a local competition at the age of 13. “Then I started to get into drama at school; that was the class I always ran to get to and I think it’s really helped me with modelling, which is like acting, telling a story, getting into character. “There are moments I’m not confident at all, but my mum taught me to say to myself three times when I wake up
every morning, ‘I’m Kelsey Martinovich’, and to just go out there, not hide anything and be myself.”
Now she has momentum, there’s no rest ahead. Even the trip to New York with $25,000 cash that Foxtel awarded her as a consolation prize will be used to canvass for modelling work. “I don’t want to take a break. I’ve really wanted this career for a while, so I want to get straight into it and start going to castings and get a great portfolio together as soon as I can,” she says. “It’s not as glamorous as it looks; it’s hard work, but I still love it.”
And her thoughts on the parallel with Crawford’s career start? “I never knew that, but hearing it makes me feel amazing.”
oh, it's the dress from Sophie's cover!!! can't wait for all the pics to be released.
and seriously, seeing her and Amanda in the same outfit (bikini) and basically the same pose, it's like night and day.
There's one more shot of Amanda, but apart from that there's all the pics. I'll scan Kelseys two shots when I get home unless someone beats me to it. Theres also two pages on the making of the U by Kotex ad, but it's not very interesting.