|Jessica Amornkuldilok of Thailand (left) and Stephanie Retuya of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of www.asiasnexttopmodel.com
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Jessica Amornkuldilok of Thailand has been named the first ever “Asia's Next Top Model” during the TV competition's finale which aired on Sunday.
Amornkuldilok beat Philippine contestant Stephanie Retuya and Kate Ma of Taiwan for the title.
In the finale, the three women had to shoot a TV commercial for Canon, as well as a cover for Harper's Bazaar magazine.
Although Retuya did well in the TV commercial, she had a difficult time with the magazine shoot.
The last challenge was a runway show for Singapore designer Frederick Lee, which was attended by “America’s Next Top Model” host and creator Tyra Banks.
Banks praised Retuya's runway walk. "I thought your runway walk was spectacular. You have sass but you're also very sweet."
But her downfall was the magazine shoot. "You were thinking strength but not giving strength," Banks told her.
The Filipina was considered to be the underdog going into the finale since she was in the bottom two five times and never won any best photo. She was only a runner-up once.
In comparison, Amornkuldilok won five best photos and four challenges, while Ma won two best photos.
Still, Banks was obviously taken by Retuya. "This is a model now although she is not modelling," she told the other judges.
Retuya, 23, is a part-time model and a full-time mother to a baby girl. She only started modeling about a year ago.
But her budding modeling career was interrupted when she got pregnant.
Now, she feels “that surge of desire to continue pursuing what she believes is meant for her.”
Described as “very passive and shy,” Retuya grew up thinking she was “freakishly tall” and did not talk much to people. She had said taking part in the reality TV contest was her dream, as she had never traveled outside of the Philippines until she joined Asia's Next Top Model.
As the winner, Amornkuldilok, 27, gets a modeling contract covering UK and Europe with London-based Storm Models, which represents supermodels Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford. The contract also includes a three-month, all-expenses working trip to London.
She also gets a cover shoot with Harper's Bazaar magazine, a contract to become the face of Canon Ixus 2013 campaign, a cash prize of S$100,000 and a new Subaru XV.