Thai schoolgirl tapped as novice super model
August 7, 1999
By Bangkok Bureau Chief John Raedler
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Ever notice anything peculiar about the ethnic origins of the world's top super models? There's never been one Asian among them. Perhaps Tidaduan Kantamala will be the first.
The 13-year-old schoolgirl in Thailand has not done any modeling. But John Casablancas, who runs the world's biggest model agency, thinks she could be the first Asian super model, and he's giving her the chance.
Every year Casablancas, who directs the Elite agency, holds a worldwide contest and offers the winner a shot at modeling stardom. He chose Tidaduan to represent Thailand on the potential of her natural elegance and distinctive beauty, despite an audition in which she couldn't walk in high heels.
"We asked her to take the heels off and walk flat-footed and she did it," he said. "And she tried to emulate Elite model agency professional models, and she did it all wrong -- but very gracefully."
Casablancas said Kantamala can be taught the 'mechanics' of modeling, but how far she goes is largely up to her.
"Whether she will have it in her to develop, beyond good looks, a fashion style, and then become a super model, that's something where time will tell," he said.
Tidaduan thinks the reason there has not been an Asian super model is cultural.
"Thai and Asian girls are shy, reluctant to show off and to wear revealing outfits. Girls in the West are not shy," she said.
Becoming a super model would be nice, Tidaduan said, but she will never pose in skimpy clothing, not even a bikini.
Besides, she has ambitions beyond modeling. "I want to become a medical doctor, so I can help other people."
For now, she remains the gawky, tall, bright student at her school, where friends call her "cartoon" because of her supposedly funny face and manner.
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