From The Straits Times    |

Image: Gavin Foo / The New Paper

Since The New Paper New Face’s walk-in auditions scrapped its age limit two years ago, girls of all ages have tried their luck at the annual modelling competition.

Now in its 24th year, about 200 people registered for the auditions at Bugis+ last Sunday, and we saw our youngest contestant at eight and our oldest at 65 strutting down the runway in front of the judges and members of the public.

Neither of them advanced to the next round, but both are new records for New Face.

Mrs Le Minh Mueller, a 65-year-old American retiree volunteering at Westwood Secondary School as a part-time teacher, told The New Paper: “I believe that beauty (is ageless). Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you aren’t pretty. So I thought I’d give it a try.

“I wanted to send a message that beauty has no limits and that you have beauty at any age. You must be confident with your beauty.”

Mrs Mueller believes that you have to maintain your beauty “inside” – one’s personality – and “outside” – one’s appearance.

She goes to the gym six days a week and eats healthily, only occasionally indulging in chocolate and red wine.

“On stage, it was exciting,” she recalled, adding that she wasn’t self-conscious at all. “Especially when the audience applauded. I thought that they loved me because I’m brave.”

She added: “Thirty-five years ago, someone approached me to ask me to be a freelance model but I was so shy and scared, I said ‘no’.

“Now, I’m more confident. It comes with age.”

Mrs Mueller had hoped to advance to the finals. She said: “I was disappointed but I will do it again next year if I’m still in Singapore.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum was eight-year-old Camille Lesslar, the youngest to audition.

She told TNP: “I was inspired after my parents took me to watch the New Face finals last year. I was hoping to be the youngest to go through (to Round 2).”

The Punggol Green Primary student added: “I like modelling. I like that the models get to wear nice clothes and walk on the runway.

“(Being on stage at the auditions), I felt like I was on top of the world.”


On not getting a passport to move forward in the competition, Camille said: “I was sad and disappointed but I won’t give up.

“I will still practise my modelling and take part next year.”

Her father, music teacher Chris Lesslar, 43, said: “I don’t want to (stand in the way) of her passion. Age doesn’t matter. Since Camille was keen to give it a try, I will help her and give her that extra push.”

Another parent who held a similar attitude was Mrs Esther Koh. Her daughter Cara Jordan Koh Xinrong, 11, is a student at Raffles Girls’ Primary School and a competitive dancer in ballroom and Latin dancing.

The 53-year-old housewife, who found out about New Face through its newspaper advertisement, said: “(Cara) was interested in modelling and I told her that I would try to get her an agency when she’s older.

“I felt that since New Face has no age restrictions, it was like a door had opened for us, so I thought ‘let’s just do it’.”

While she did not make it to the next round, Cara said of her experience on stage: “I felt confident and it was very fun and enjoyable.”

Mrs Koh added: “In all competitions, we prepare and deliver. We did a post-mortem (for New Face) and we will learn from it.”


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