I love me some The Color Purple. I laugh, I cry. And then I cry some more. (By the way, I believe Oprah was robbed. She should have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Sophia. And this will be the only gracious thing I will have to say about the all consuming one.) My favorite line is when Celie tells Mister,”I’m poor, I’m black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here.”
Being still here is an accomplishment especially when you believe that your time has run out or is about to run out. When you believe that the ship has set sail and you can no longer see it over the horizon.
The reality television show, She’s Got the Look (TVLand, Thursdays 9 PM Eastern/Pacific) now in it’s second season, features women, 35 and older, who are still here, who still have the hope of becoming models after life’s twists and turns, who have the hope of winning a contract with Wilhelmenia Models, a photo spread in Self magazine and $100,000.
Only a select few get the chance to chase the dream. The process is essentially the same as last season. Casting calls were held in various cities including Dallas and Chicago. The beauties of a certain age walk onto mini catwalk and stand in front of the panel judges — Wilhelmenia Models president Sean Patterson, supermodel Beverly Johnson and celebrity stylist Robert Verdi — to be evaluated for their beauty as well that ever elusive “it” factor. And in a twist from last season, the aspiring models were photographed on the spot with their photos becoming a part of the decision as to whether or not they have the look.
There is always a delusional clown or two in the bunch like Ernestine, the overly limber, animal print wearing sistah from last year who made a return visit to the runway. And there was the egg-shaped Asian sistah who wants to be the first plus size petite Asian model. What a hypenate! But for the most part, the women who auditioned were viable contenders. And 20 were selected to go to New York City where the competition began in earnest.
Like most reality competition shows, contestants are put through their paces in various challenges. Their first challenge, in which the 20 would become 10, they were asked to create a sexy runway look using only the clothes they had on their backs which they could alter any way they saw fit. The women could also choose items from the various accessories provided.
This seems to be the year to break the rules in reality shows when it comes to the number of final contestants selected (Think: American Idol 13) and She’s Got the Look is no exception – 11 women were chosen instead of the announced 10. This season, the show promises more difficult challenges that test the women’s modeling skills as well as their emotional resilience.
Here’s a recap of Episode One: The judges top 10 plus 1:
I must admit I was disappointed by the inclusion of Laurie, 42, in the top 11. She comes across as unhinged from the start — manic to the max. Perhaps her presence is an attempt to add a bit of crazy to the experience. Completely unnecessary. And the not-to-be-believed stunt she will pull in front of the judges is one for the books.
Also, I question selection of the emotionally fragile Shelly. She has a great story which many women can relate to — one of never having had one’s beauty validated. But I wonder if the producers are taking a risk with the such a person. If she doesn’t win, what happens to her self-esteem then? Aftercare looks like it would definitely be in order. I hope they are not sacrificing her emotional well being for a good story. I have to trust that they are not.
Seeing that she is vulnerable, the attack on Shelly begins in earnest by LeeAnne and Laurie during a second episode challenge. Shelly, in own way, tries to fight back but her effort comes across as an overreaction inappropriate for the setting — in front a panel that included the client, an agency representative and guest judge Rachel Hunter. (Admission: I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same thing but you know I ain’t right in the head.)
Here’s a sneak peak of the second episode:
With that said, the show looks to have maintained its can-do spirit having selected women for their beauty as well as their compelling and inspirational stories and fierce resolve.
Here are my ones to watch:
Delores De Vega, 72 Hometown: Los Angeles – Yes, you read that right. Sistah or rather Miss Delores is a beautiful 72 year-old, a regal white haired grandmother of eight who oozes with class. Back in the day, she modeled for Ebony and Jet magazines. The “non-ethnic” magazines would not hire her. She stumbled (metaphorically) a bit on the catwalk during the first challenge but makes a stunning recovery during the second.
Cindy Cohen, 39 Hometown: Calabasas, CA – Her beauty is captivating. Her story compelling. Cindy found herself homeless nine years ago with a 10-year-old son citing “poor choices” and the fear of being alone as the reasons. She’s back on track and is now a real estate agent. She doesn’t say much but the quiet folks are the ones you have to keep your eye on.
LeeAnne Locken, 41 Hometown: Dallas, TX – She’s this season’s mean girl. The daughter of a carnival circuit owner, she mixes it up with fragile Shelly in the early going.
Shelly Marks 39 Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH – I love her. I just do. Yes, the single mother of two, is a bit too fragile, too self-effacing but you want her to win. If she doesn’t win you want to her to, at the very least, come to realize that she is a winner.
So now, for these women, to parapharse author and philosopher Ayn Rand, it’s not who is going to let them pursue their dream but who is going to stop them.