The first batch of hopefuls for the next season of New Zealand's Next Top Model were put through their paces yesterday, and judges deny that they are going soft.
About 100 aspiring models turned up for auditions at Botany Town Centre. Seventy-one girls and three boys passed the requirements of being 1.7m or taller and aged 16-25 to appear before the judging panel.
About 20 walked out with a smile and ticket to the next stage from presenter Sara Tetro, TV3 executive Andrew Szusterman and producer Emma White.
After two series it appeared hopefuls had wised up to the judges' intentions.
Born in New Zealand to Ghanaian parents, Janina Asiedu 17, of Avondale, knew where Tetro's questions about her chemically-straightened hair were heading.
"They always have the black girls and shave their heads. I'm willing to do it," she told the judges.
Asiedu was accompanied by Rebecca Chi, 17, of Orakei. The friends are students at Glendowie College and both made it over the first hurdle in their matching shorts.
A group of 33 girls will be selected from the first round of auditions, to be whittled down to the final 13.
The nationwide search continues this week with auditions around the country.
Physique and fashion were key topics in the audition room but the judges also probed into personal issues - adeptly digging out the stuff that makes good telly.
In a few minutes they uncovered a fractured relationship between Aseidu and her father and that Chi was a neat freak who thought Kiwis were rude to the elderly, something that would never be tolerated in her Taiwanese culture.
The judges started off generously, accepting half the first 10 contenders.
Tetro said she wasn't getting soft. "This is the third cycle and you can get phases where you see lots of girls you like, then you see lots of faces you don't like. You never know how it's going to go."
Alongside elation came disappointment. Tetro told Julia Burrows, 22, of Lynfield, she was too quiet and her personality wouldn't shine. "I feel a bit down," said Burrows.
For future audition dates, go to www.tv3.co.nz