By Victoria Barker
REALITY show America's Next Top Model (ANTM) made headlines this year on account of two controversial contestants - Isis King (above) and Sheena Sakai. Singaporeans have been enthralled by the Tyra Banks-created show, now in its 11th season.
The show has been airing on Channel V since October.
"Isis has broken the stereotype of what a model should be," said Mr Iskandar Jantan, 29, who is in the food-and-beverage industry. Licensing manager Fadhilah Lee, 25, enjoyed Sakai's raucous personality, calling her a 'breath of fresh air'.
Why are King and Sakai the talk of the town? Read on.
ISIS KING, 23
King's claim to fame is being the first pre-operation transgender contestant on ANTM. Born Darren Walls in Maryland in the United States, she came under fire from the other girls for being different. But she told my paper in a phone interview from her Maryland home that she was "there to conquer all my fears of being myself in the public eye".
"More of my struggle (with transitioning) than my personality was shown, but I have no regrets," added King, who works in a non-profit organisation and who was the fifth contestant to be eliminated.
"I am ready for the fashion industry now, more than ever," she said. Last month, Banks announced that she intended to pay for King's gender-reassignment surgery.
SHEENA SAKAI, 22
In the first episode of the season, she proclaimed: "I am not your typical Asian-American female, okay!' The half-Korean, half-Japanese, Hawaii-born bombshell with an attitude is an aspiring actress, singer and dancer. Over the phone from her home in New York, Sakai told my paper that she did not care if naysayers criticised her for being 'too voluptuous' to be a high-fashion model.
"I am who I am... At the end of the day, my character made for good TV, right" she said cheekily. One fellow contestant who really liked Sakai's in-your-face personality was Elina Ivanova, 18. "Elina had a crush on me," said
Sakai, who was ninth to be eliminated. "I told her thanks, but I have a boyfriend."
America's Next Top Model airs at
8.45pm on Channel V (StarHub Ch 85) every Sunday. There are
three episodes left.