(Photo : Patrick Wymore/The CW )
Renown photographer Yu Tsai is the newest creative director and judge for "America"s Next Top Model." International photographer Yu Tsai joined Cycle 21 of Americas Next Top Model as a creative consultant and judge. Prior to Americas Next Top Model, Yu Tsai photographed many high fashion models including Kate Upton and Alessandra Ambrosio. Yu Tsai joined Americas Next Top Model following the departure of Johnny Wujek, who had served as the creative director of the program since Cycle 19.
Americas Next Top Model first aired in 2006, with model and television personality Tyra Banks as the originator of the program and executive producer. The significance of the current season of Americas Next Top Model to K-Pop fans lies in the fact that Seoul was selected as the international destination for Cycle 21.
Cycle 21 has been one of the most successful seasons of Americas Next Top Model and has yielded some of the highest viewership numbers for The CW since the teen drama Gossip Girl.Cycle 21 filmed five segments in Korea, which featured an appearance from James of the group Royal Pirates. The episodes in Seoul will also feature special appearances YG Entertainments 2NE1 and BtoB Korean drama actor and model Lee Soo Hyuk, who recently starred in High School King of Manners, also appears in the finale along with renown designer Lee Sang Bong.
(Photo : Patrick Wymore/The CW )
Yu Tsai pictured with Ben for "America"s Next Top Model" during the episode "The Girl Who"s A Player." Americas Next Top Model continued with the GuysGirls theme that was established with Cycle 20. Twenty-one male and female contestants began the filming process. However, only seven were given the opportunity to make the trip to Seoul.
The final seven who made the journey to Korea included Chantelle Young, a fan favorite who was eliminated in episode four. Chantelle faced challenges from the beginning of filming, due to her uneven skin tone which is caused by vitiligo. She was given an opportunity to return, following a fan vote of 6.68% which was revealed on episode ten, The Girl With The Bloodcurdling Scream.
Episode 12 which is aptly named "The Guy Who Parties Too Hard" kicks off the episodes which were filmed in Seoul. The models enjoyed the street food in and had an opportunity to interact with K-Pop male group BtoB.
Kpopstarz had an opportunity to speak with Americas Next Top Model creative consultant and judge Yu Tsai prior to the airing of the episodes filmed in Korea.
Yu Tsai expressed a strong love for K-Pop and Korean food. He enthusiastically exclaimed, I loved the K-Pop scene. I think the food was amazing! I love Korean food.
Yu Tsai introduces the contestants to BtoB, who teach the choreography for "Beep Beep."
During the filming for Episode 12 the models performed outside in Seoul, under the dance instruction of BtoB. Yu Tsai positively described the interaction with K-Pop fans,We did a challenge with one of the [K-Pop] groups, the K-Pop fans came out.They were so supportive and warm. I thought it was fantastic and really loved seeing that.
When asked about his thoughts regarding the role of that the visual aesthetic in Seoul played in the filming process Yu Tsai responded, It is such a unique environment where ancient history collides with modern technology . It was so technologically advanced. Everywhere we went, there was WiFi.
Historical buildings including palaces found in Korea were incorporated in filming. Yu Tsai expressed his awe at the juxtaposition of the present day and ancient architecture in Korea, stating We were able to shoot within one of the ancient palaces. It was amazing to see the modern technology right in front of it.
He discussed the incorporation of male and female models on Cycle 20 and Cycle 21 of Americas Next Top Model. Both seasons approached the model search with the Guys and Girls concept. According to Yu Tsai, I think it is the right time to look at both male and female models. There has been an increased demand for male models, as well as female models. This had led to celebrities becoming more active as models through advertising.
K-Drama star Lee Soo Hyuk is a prime example of a model who segued from the runway to an acting career. His career trajectory is similar to Kim Woo Bin, who also debuted in modeling before transitioning to become a successful actor. This career experience undoubtedly made Lee Soo Hyuk an interesting person for the models to work with for the finale of Cycle 21.
Yu Tsai then discussed the career paths that past Americas Next Top Model contestants have explored. He said, There have been past models who have received offers from designers such as Ralph Lauren. Other models have gone on to acting or have received their own reality shows.
He attributed social media for the success of Cycle 21, Tyra [Banks] has recognized the importance of social media in building the audience. People are curious about the change in the judging lineup, also.
One of the final questions for Yu Tsai centered on the growing popularity of Korean beauty products such as BB Cream, CC Cream, and Konjac sponges. He responded, As someone of Taiwanese descent, I recognize the value in using these products. For example, if someone is going on vacation, they can use BB Cream and will have a glowing look. Its become interesting that these products are extending past the use of people from Eastern regions.
Yu Tsai has channeled his professional experience to become a mentor for aspiring models. As the newest addition to Americas Next Top Model, he joins iconic figures from the modeling industry, who continue to seek the newest stars of modeling.
2NE1, BTOB, Lee Soo Hyuk, James from the Royal Pirates, and designer Lee Sang Bong will all appear during the episodes filmed in Korea.
Americas Next Top Model Cycle 21 episodes which were shot in Korea begin airing on November 7 with the episode entitled The Guy Who Parties Too Hard. Americas Next Top Model airs Fridays on The CW.
Thank you to the publicity department at The CW and Yu Tsai for this interview.