A Date With The Enigmatic Lisa S
By Prabhu Silvam
Supermodel Lisa Selesner has been strutting it up on the catwalks of Milan and Europe since the tender age of 14, which practically makes her one of the most sought after fashion icons in the Asian modeling coupe. She emanates a bubbly persona, full of strong vigor and energetic drive. Pair this with her infectious smile and she’ll have you entranced.
She’s been in and around the scene both as a model, VJ and of late – host and judge of Supermodelme, Season 3. We spoke to her prior to her production schedule to make sense of this multi-faceted modelling icon.
Firstly, thank you for taking time off your busy production schedule from Supermodelme. Tell us how Supermodelme differs from the usual top model competitions. What can viewers expect to see.
I think that most top model competitions tend to be mostly only based on photoshoots and what models do when they’re on the set, while Supermodelme is an all encompassing show of what you need to be a supermodel – fitness, health, resilience, tough skin and how that translates from everyday life into being a better model. We put them through their paces, we make them do some pretty crazy things and this year is even crazier than last year! We’ve had to take into account their actions and behaviors off the set because modeling its not just how you act on the set, its also about how you relate to your peers, the customers, clients, photographers – everybody. Its about judging them on the whole.
How does being a professional top model yourself help mold your scope as a judge.
I’ve been through it all. I was a very unsuccessful model for many years so I know what its like to do the daily grunt. And I know what its like to have people tell you you’re not good enough every single day. I kept getting that for a good 10 -15 years. I didn’t find success until I arrived in Asia. I’d worked in New York and Europe. I was what they call a “Working Model” which is not glamorous. Lets say you see a hosiery ad and if you see the legs – well that would have been me! I never did the cover for Italian Vogue and all that kinda stuff. So I was constantly being compared to those type of girls – I have the experience of not being good enough until I got to a stage in my life and career where I did become good enough for people. So I know both sides of the spectrum, somebody the girls can relate to.
Now that the tables have turned, you get to dish out some tough love!
(Laughs) Well I can give them advice, I can finally share with somebody all my experiences and give them valid advice because this is what really happens.
So whats it like being the decider of fates.
Its been hard for me because I just want to hug them all and take them home with me – you know what I mean! Like I want to take care of them and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I got hurt myself for so many years and I know how it feels but I also feel I have an obligation to show them what the real world is all about. So being a judge is my chance to show them what constructive harsh criticism is about.
You’ve had a prolific career working with models from fashion capitals like Milan and Paris. Do you think local models have what it takes to match up to their international counterparts.
Absolutely. I think the only thing local models need to work on is getting out of their shell. Part of the culture in Asia is trying to be prim and proper when people are looking. You don’t want to belie personal issues – and im not asking them to hang their dirty laundry for all to see. What I am saying is that they’re very easily intimidated by loud people. And if you’re going to be in the international market, you’re going to get yourself some really loud models – like me! I know a lot of girls in this region who think “I could never do that.” I think they need to get more gumption. There’s some really beautiful girls in this region who definitely have a chance to make it big out there.
As an active ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness, do you feel that models have a moral obligation to give back to society or does it stop at the catwalk.
I strongly believe that if you’re in public eye of any sort – if you’re somebody a little girl or boy looks up to then I think you have a moral obligation to do so. Us models are very lucky to be in the business where we get a lot of attention, free stuff and a lot of money. All these things that a normal person would dream and would love to have. And I think if there’s a way to give back, that’s the least you can do as well mannered individual.
Ultimately, other than style and confidence, what do the contestants need to bring to the table.
Definitely resilience. And EQ. EQ is something very important – how to deal with people, how to be a good ambassador for your brand. Whoever wins this competition will be our ambassador for Supermodelme for a year until the next person is crowned. We need to find somebody that will represent us correctly. We’re looking for somebody who can help run the gamut, its not just about being a pretty face.
As a model, who is your muse?
I come from a different era than most of these girls so I derive my inspirations from people like Christy Turlington. She was of my generation – simply amazing top model from my era. She was the Kate Moss of my generation. She’s stunningly beautiful, if you look her up on the internet you’ll know what I mean. All those iconic Versace photos you’ve ever seen, well she’s probably in them. She’s got this serenity and calmness about her. When I worked with her in Europe a couple of times, she was never frazzled. Another person would be Heidi Klum. I’m going for the Heidi Klum approach in this show by being very motherly, very nice but very straight. Its funny because they’re both blonde!
Finally, If you weren’t a top model, you’d be a…..
A horse trainer. That’s where my passion lies. Had I not gone into modeling, right now I’d be on a horse farm somewhere. I’d probably have never met my husband, so thank god for modeling. I’d be training horses, training kids how to ride. Training horses for resale and horse showing myself. Hopefully I’d have made it to the Olympics!