The number of teenage girls at St Lukes mall in Auckland swelled yesterday as hopefuls turned up to audition for New Zealand's Next Top Model.
Wannabes at the back of the line chatted happily with friends but the tension mounted towards the front as an interview with judges Sara Tetro and Chris Sisarich, and TV3 producer Emma White loomed.
Yanna Hampe, 16, felt a bit "up myself" to be auditioning but her confidence paid off when she got a "yes" from the judging panel.
"I was excited, so I think I was quite confident and they liked that I was bubbly," said the Albany Senior High School student, whose friends urged her to audition.
Ms Hampe is now on the shortlist of about 100 applicants which includes two men.
Her photos and a video interview will be used to decide whether she will be one of 33 contestants on the show.
"I'm not going to get my hopes up too much so I don't get too crushed, but I would be quite excited," she said.
But with more than 650 people interviewed nationwide, some were inevitably disappointed.
The Herald sat in on an interview, which started badly when a nervous candidate refused to put her handbag down and ended with a plea of "can I do anything to change your mind?"
"No, because we don't want to force you into being what we need. We want you to comfortably be what we need without trying," came the practised, humane response from Tetro.
Sisarich said it was important to keep the contestants' feelings in mind.
"You can see it on their faces, they're so nervous," he said. "It's like all these girls see movies of princesses and models and things and that's what they want ... and good on them for coming in and getting in front of us but it's definitely not right for everybody."
Tetro said potential was not always obvious; last season's winner Danielle Hayes was a case in point.
"She came in with her head down and her beanie on. You could've missed it if you hadn't looked."
And what about the cringe-worthy interviews that reality TV thrives on?
"I call them impassioned girls," said Tetro. "They're not really interested in the questions, only the outcome. We could say, 'cut your legs off'. And they'd cut their legs off. They can be hard to talk to or deal with."
New Zealand's Next Top Model will be filmed and broadcast this year.By Nicholas Jones Email Nicholas