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America’s Next Top Job Opportunity!

Hi, I’m Asha K, I’m one of the ladies lucky enough to be an Element Eden advocate. I am originally from Australia, and have been living in LA the past 4 years as a TV and Web Host, and I love blogging, writing etc.

I have been working in TV for roughly 8 years now, the reason why I moved from Sydney to Los Angeles. When I was asked to write a blog about my experience on ANTM, I was in the middle of filming cycle 18 (!) and now that I am wrapped I have a few key things I wanted to share. I didn’t just want this to be a post about working on the show, etc.

I thought I would start with how I got the job...

Early in 2011 I was hosting and writing my own music web series “This Week in Music”, as well as a travel series for Mahalo.com, and hosting and blogging about reality TV shows like ‘The X Factor’, ‘American Idol’ etc for Myspace.com. Within the space of a month, all these freelance gigs ended for different reasons. I’m sure most of you read or heard about Myspace being sold to Specific Media LLC.

So I was at a quandry and started to worry about finances, as i’m sure a lot of us have these past few years. I can say I am a child of the modern day recession and it has hit some of us very hard. One of my best friends from Australia, Andrew Patterson, whom I had previously worked with before on TV jobs here and there as a PA, met up with some friends and me on a night out and he broke the news to me that he was offered the job as Photo Shoot Producer on America’s Next Top Model. I was so stoked for him! He had been through the same struggles that I had job-wise. During this time, Joey and I looked at our bank account and realized we were not going to be able to make rent the following month (which was May, in a few days). I was sharing what I had been through with Andrew and he was very comforting and sympathetic.

The next day I received a call from Andrew asking if I wanted a job. He had hired a friend of his as his assistant but it didn’t end up working out with her, so he immediately thought of me. I was taken aback but immediately knew my answer, “YES!”. “Good”, he said, “You start on Monday at 9am, Tyra is in the office at 10am and we have a creative meeting with her.”

The following week I started at the office in West Los Angeles. I was quickly introduced to everyone, and then we started work. I learned a lot, and fast! This is a very intense show, we filmed the whole season in 9 weeks. The crew is very large, and a lot of them have been there since cycle 1. They are also a hell of a lot of fun to work with!

Every season the show travels to an abroad location, and if you have been watching this season, you will know they went to Greece. I unfortunately didn’t get to go there because I was only an assistant, but I was able to work on all 8 of the domestic episodes, producing all the photo shoots with the models and the celebrities we worked with. While the rest of the team went to Greece, my boss/friend Andrew decided to send me to New York for a week to network at an advertising and creative event called Le Book in Soho, that was such a great experience for me and I really felt like for the first time in a fe years, I was part of something really special and valued every experience in this job.

In case you aren’t too familiar with the show, each episode is broken down into a few categories, as it is a competition after all. There is a “Tyra Teach” segment, where she imparts her wisdom and knowledge of the modeling world in some way, they have the “reality” aspect which can range from doing a challenge with a celebrity, the girls being filmed out and about or simply what they are doing back in the cast house. They then have a Photo Shoot, which is what I am involved in. Essentially this is the most important aspect of each episode for the models, as it is what they are judged on, and also what they need to know how to master the most if they want a modeling career.
Lastly, they have judging each episode where one girl is eliminated until the winner remains.

For those of you wondering, Tyra Banks is a very sweet, charismatic, down to earth, kooky, creative fun-loving chick! I love working for her, and while she isn’t on set or in the office every day due to her busy celebri-schedule, it’s great seeing this life-sized barbie doll when I get the chance :)

As an assistant on set most of my duties were running around, getting lunch orders for our team, making sure all the hair, makeup and wardrobe team were situated and knew where to set up, making sure all the photographers, their assistants and anyone physically on set had signed confidentialities etc, helping out with the cast (models) during the shoot so we stayed on schedule, and anything else my boss needed.

Each photo shoot had a specific theme and reason. Cycle 17 was the “All Stars” season, which meant all the models had been on a cycle previously. Because they were brought back, this time around there was a heavy emphasis on branding, and being a supermodel personality, rather than just breaking into the biz.

This meant all the celebrities we worked with were also involved in their own branding in some way, and were able to teach the girls a little about what it is like to create your own brand.

So after the season had wrapped and everyone was overseas, I was trying to network with a few contacts from another TV show to see if I could continue with my momentum. I really really wanted to work on The X Factor as their online correspondent. I had made an audition tape, sent it to (spammed it to!) everyone at Fox, Fremantle Media, Sony Music and Syco Entertainment who I knew were part of the show. Simon Cowell’s global head of media saw my tape and immediately sent it to Simon who also loved it!

I was the frontrunner to be picked for the online job because I was so keen and shoved myself in front of these people because I love the show. At the last minute, the 2 exec producers of the show decided to pick a youtube “personality” for the online position. To say I was gutted was an understatement, especially since I ran my own “campaign” and it made its way all the way to the top (Simon Cowell). Unfortunately he doesn’t have a lot of power in the everyday decisions of the show, that was a network decision.

So now it is toward the end of August and I don’t know what to do. I was so sure I would be working on The X Factor. I wrote to my friend Andrew again and asked if there was any office work I could help him out with, making phone calls that kind of thing.

He immediately wrote back to me offering me a job on cycle 18 of ANTM, this time with a promotion! He asked if I would like to be the Photo Shoot Coordinator as the previous girl was now working on another TV show. He told me the pay rate, and I immediately said yes! Not because of the pay, but because I realized in that moment, everything happens for a reason, and some things DON’T happen for a reason.

Andrew is one of my best friends, and the best boss I could ask for. He really looks after me on this job, and entrusts me with a lot. So in September I started work on America’s Next Top Model cycle 18, and have just wrapped as I write this today, December 5th. I cannot write details of the show, or any locations as there is strict confidentiality on this show. If we keep everything a secret, the more the public will want to watch when it goes to air. The more views = more ratings = more jobs. And I am all for that :)

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, although I know it was rather long. I didn’t just want to share about my job, but I wanted to share from my heart about the struggles us young women experience  in the arts and entertainment industry. I wanted to share because I know I am not the only one who has been through this and it is very hard. I am a career-oriented Type A personality over achiever! Not the best combination for a recession! But throughout it all, my learning to let go, have faith and just be thankful for my experiences and opportunities (yes, even the bad times) allowed me to see the bigger picture and breathe a sigh of relief.

I am currently working on a TV pitch idea, aimed at inspiring women between the ages of 18-35, and posting on my new blog centered around this theme www.girltalktv.tumblr.com. If you have any thoughts, ideas, questions, comments, suggestions, feel free to tweet me @thisisashak, or facebook me www.facebook.com/ashakofficial.

Here are some photos of the shoots I worked on, on America’s Next Top Model: All Stars, taken from the CW website.

Until next time, keep dreaming, keep believing, keep persisting and keep loving.

Asha K :)