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J.C. Lam
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Asia's Next Top Model winner Sheena Liam is your typical girl-next-door

The Star/ANN | J.C. Lam | Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Ever since she was a five-year-old growing up in Kajang, Selangor, Sheena Liam's mother had always believed she would someday be a model.

And last Wednesday, Liam, 22, proved a mother's always right by bagging the top prize in the season finale of reality modelling competition Asia's Next Top Model (AsNTM), where she did Malaysia proud by consistently impressing the judges.

Now, she's all geared up to claim her main prize - a three-month modelling stint in London under Storm Model Management; along with a S$50,000/RM120,000 cash prize (which she gave her parents), a brand new car (also given to her parents), and a fashion spread in Harper's Bazaar Singapore and Malaysia (not something she can give her parents).

But it was a tough journey to the top for Liam, more so when everything she did was broadcasted to the entire world.

Throughout the nearly three-month weekly broadcast, the world bore witness to countless cat fights between the contestants, lots of tears, and all their successes and failures in the various modelling challenges.

"The fighting is real, the emotions are real," said Liam during an interview with R.AGE the day after the finale.

"There's no one coming in saying: 'Oh, today you have to fight with her'. So, everything was self-initiated."

With so much at stake, the emotional stress became a common theme throughout the competition. Sure, it made good TV, but as Liam can attest to, it really wasn't easy to deal with.

"I (had to) psych myself up all the time," she said. "When I watch the show on TV, I realise how seriously I took everything and how much pressure I put on myself. If I could do it all over again, I would actually chill out and have some fun."

The stakes were so high it even got to the judges. According to Liam, two of the judges (she wouldn't name who) were at each other's throats during the finale, where they had to choose between Liam and the other two contestants who made it to the finale - Filipinas Jodilly Pendre and Katarina Rodriguez.

"You could see how seriously the judges take it. It wasn't (as simple as): 'Yeah, we like her, so we're gonna pick her,'" Liam explained. "They were fighting among themselves over the judging."

Eventually, of course, Liam was famously (or infamously) announced the winner.

The big announcement was slightly bittersweet for Liam, though, as social media was soon flooded with hate messages, ranging from the typical keyboard warrior-type "you're so ugly you look like a horse", to the more extreme - death threats, and claims she only won because producers felt sorry about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

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