Friday, July 31, 2015
America's Next Top Model's Tyra Banks & Oppo Smartphones are Changing the Game in Fashion/Beauty and Society.
Last Wednesday night at Greystone Manor nightclub in West Hollywood, Tyra Banks officially kicked off Cycle 22 with announcing a partnership with digital remote app, Oppo, since models and aspiring models like to and need to shoot selfies. Why not make them the best selfies.
Underneath all the drama, the craziness, America's Next Top Model is the reflector of change...change in society, change in demographics, change in what is considered beautiful, and change in technology and how technology change society or how society change technology.
In this arriving Cycle 22, two significant things have happened.
One, Tyra removed the height requirements.
Second, American's Next Top Model did castings based submitted selfies, headshots and poses, and casting through social media.
Those two actions reflect current and emerging social demographics and reflect how people are using everyday technology, opening the most diverse cast of aspiring models reflected on America's Next Top Model.
Since top-notch modeling agencies and brands have been looking to and sourcing America's Next Top Model winners and contests to fulfill consumers' needs and desires, America's Next Top Model has always been proud in being a game-changer and predicting changes in business and society. They were proud to be the one of the first mainstream shows to have a transgendered model as a sign of beauty, way before Caitlyn Jenner.
From its simple and humble beginnings, "How do you become a model," to changing and informing viewers to various ideas of beauty to catering the fashion industry's needs to being early adapters of technology, America's Next Top Model has influenced society, around the globe, unknowingly.
Ken Mok, said he, as an Asian-American and one of his producing partners, Tyra Banks, an African-American, knows that American society is changing and the fashion industry has to be adapt to those changes in society and the consumer demographics but how to discover new talent that fit those needs and get them proper training and out in the commercial spotlight?
Why produce a documentary "reality show" that films the process from beginning to end? America's Next Top Model which spawn numerous franchises across the globe.
Ken Mok, "At first, it was educational. Tyra wants to show people what it takes to be a model, the right way. What it takes to have then, it turns into an aspirational show where we took average-looking girls then turn them into beautiful models then give them a career."
Ken's producing partner, Laurie, "I think it's a couple of things. One, what we were saying 'What's great about fashion and the beauty world and technology is that, they're always changing. Even in the thirteen years we've been on, every year there's a new trend, a new designer, new technology. They're so interesting. Then, we follow the experiences of the contestants that we're casting through the lenses. So, we're telling a great story. "
"We tell them (the contestants) we want to be on the journey with you. The fact there are new things to talk about in this world. With beauty and social ideas, there are different models with different stories on different journeys. A lot of them will be here tonight. It's so interesting to see what they've gone through the show and even beyond that. Because, they change physically. They change outwardly. Some have their eyes open to other possibilities."
"That's one, too, is that we have achieved. What I like about the show, whether you become a model or not, by exposing the viewer to different types of people and to different types of beauty, we have helped changed people's idea of beauty at home." Which Tyra has set out to do."
Ken Mok, "The industry that is always over-turning itself is the fashion industry. Multi times a year, you know. So, we always look to the fashion world and the modeling world for inspiration for our challenges, our photo shoots and such. So, it's quite easy for us to come up with new challenges in new directions within the frameworks of the show."
"It's also challenging since we go through twenty-two cycles; and you're doing a number of runway shows. Every cycle how do we do that? So, we spend a lot of time, creatively, sitting in a room together, beating each other's brains in how to be creative; but, that's the challenge of the show. Luckily, we're able to come up with fresh ideas."
In retaining fans and keeping the concept fresh,...
Ken, "Like we always said, we try to keep on the cutting edge. In terms of fashion, in terms of what goes on in fashion world. For example, we did a partnership with Oppo phone (app). We talked that thirteen years ago, there was no such thing as a selfie. Now, I have a fourteen year-old daughter, who whenever she's in the car with me, she's taking three selfies in the car. Everybody now is a photographer. Everybody is a professional photographer."
"So, when Oppo came to us, 'Hey, we have this phone. It's incredibly stylish. It's like a fashion accessory. We have a camera in the phone that takes 64 mega pixels. It's professional grade quality and it's a great communication device. So, it's natural to partner up with you. We're gonna have our cast use it for photo shoots for challenges and use it to talk to each other. It's really easy. It's not just Oppo. Every year, we look for that cutting edge technology to use in the show."
Laura, Ken's producing partner, "One thing I like about Oppo is the entertainment value. Our show has a high entertainment value. It's all about fantasy but it's always been rooted into something real. Back to Cycle 1, Tyra said it's always has to be rooted to something that she experienced and learned. This ties to things we have to think up with. We will always have that fantasy but we root it to something that's real."
"No matter how crazy or how wild it gets, there is always something tied to an experience or a lesson."
"Actually, the partnership with Oppo is so perfect because, part of the reality, is that these kids today, we take away their television, we make them live in this house but once they have these cell phones; and they're able to take these selfies, bringing that reality of what kids are doing everyday to blend in what we're teaching them on "Top Model."
"This whole cycle, you'll see the phone being used in various ways. From just being social with each other, taking photos, beautifying themselves, doing different features, to what Ken said, we actually did professional photo shoots with them (on the camera).
On using the Oppo phone, Laura, "We actually had professional photographers use the Oppo Phone on professional photo shoots."
Laura mentioned they significantly crossed that line from causal shooting to doing professional photo shoots using Oppo Smartphone.
"It's based on fantasy but it's using what people at home can do."
Ken Mok, "We also have a cast member use the phone. One of the cast member is deaf, hearing impaired. So, the phone became important for him to be able to communicate with the cast members too. So, it got used in many ways.
What to expected in the new Cycle 22,...
Ken Mok, "What to expect...in Cycle 22, boys and girls. This was our second cycle where we did boys and girls. In the third cycle, we did men and women. This adds a new dimension to our show in eleven years. We only introduce girls in the series. Now, that we introduce guys, it completely makes the show new and fresh, creates a brand new dynamic for the show. That's big plus for us. Every year, we always cast in an interesting way. Not only do you find the cast very diverse, in ethnicity and in size, their personalities and backgrounds that the cast members have, are really, really interesting. This is the most fascinating group I ever seen."
Laura, "One thing, too, is what we talked about earlier, we changed the way we did casting this season. So, one thing Tyra took away the height requirement; and now a days, people used to submit some kind of photo to be taken into consideration and find some people in there. Several people have gotten onto the show because of their selfies. They're doing poses and submitting them via the internet. Between Oppo and doing a lot of castings through social media and taking away the height requirement, it really open up a lot of wide variety of people."
"This would make people look at them differently, as I said again. Evolving them (the cast), looking into what new areas we can put them into the modeling industry. Even in the fashion industry, there are a lot of campaigns right now that want the photos look like a selfie. Something relatable because that's what their audience is kinds used to."
"So, the cycle we have is a very interesting cast and in addition to Oppo which is seen through the cycle, is used in a really unique way. We're also back working with Next Model Management again and Nylon Magazine. Again, they bring so much to the table. Then, our brand prize partner is Zappos Couture. Tony Shay is a friend of Tyra's. Zappo Couture is re-branding their luxury line. The winner of this cycle will be the face of the new luxury line, Zappo Couture, adding a new element as well."
"We're still crazy, high-fashion photo shoots as well but it's hard to fit all in an hour-long show. We're still editing this as well."
After thirteen years and twenty-two cycles, Ken Mok always revert back to the show's roots and purpose,...
"I'm Asian-American. Tyra is African-American. From the beginning, we always wanted to make a social impact to redefine what beauty is. When we first started the show, I think if you saw the fashion show, out in the modeling world, it was very homogenous. You know, white, beautiful, blonde types of gals. Don't see a lot of people of color in there. You know, the only two people of color in that type of business, in that time, were Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks and nobody else. And in terms of size, it was always 5'10, 5'11; a certain weight; and there was no diversity in the terms of that."
So, Tyra and I were really determined to help redefine beauty. That beauty comes from all shapes, sizes, and color. That our cast, from day one, is always very diverse. Fully half of our cast, if not more, are Latina, African-American, Asian, different sexual orientation. Trans-gendered, Everything. We always push the envelope there. While we think we kinda change the discussion a little. We kinda move the ball. I think the fashion world is kinda different now a days than it was back then. I think we would like to take credit for that and help change people's perception."
When the lead reporter conducting this rare interview, commented Tyra did this all by herself, Ken Mok agreed,...
Ken Mok, Tyra's producing partner, "I agree."
Taking this scribe's question that fashion reflects change in society, what are the changes occuring now in the industry and society?
Laura, producing partner, "It is changing. I think that the fashion industry is reflecting our culture changing. The one thing that I was thinking was that I find interesting is that Caitlyn Jenner and transgender. The one thing I love about that show is that we had Isis on the show several years ago, the first transgendered contestant; and we had another one a couple of cycles ago. Yes, we had our crazy cat-fights and drama but the cast was so accepting that we (the producers) never expected that. Those personalities accepting one another. People have seen on the show and evolved. As we worked with partners that are looking for models for their grand prizes, Next Model Management, even they've been telling us that the audience wants people that they can relate to all different types. It's not no longer...what Tyra wanted to change is that if you don't have a certain look, you're not beautiful. You can't achieve what you want. Today, different people all want to relate to different types of beauty. I really seen in the last few years, just even working with our partners in the professional beauty and modeling industry, they tell us 'We're looking for that. We're craving for that differentiation. Their clients are as well. I feel like we're ahead of that trend; and it's nice because it helps us keep evolving too because every year when we're casting, is this viable? Because, we make sure that people we cast in our show will have a viable career; and what's been wonderful is that the answer has always been "yes."
Laura, producing partner, "All people are welcomed to join this industry."