Yahoo! TV Q&A: Model mentor Coco Rocha on 'The Face' and getting real
WARNING: This interview may contain mild spoilers for the premiere of "The Face." If you're concerned about spoilers, please stop reading now!
Oxygen's new reality series "The Face" puts a new twist on modeling-competition shows. Three teams of model hopefuls – some of them already working in the industry, others newbies to the profession – are each assigned a mentor to guide them through photo shoots and runway shows, while photographer and former "America's Next Top Model" judge Nigel Barker hosts. The judges? Real designers and magazine editors, who hire the teams for real campaigns and shows.
Mentoring the teams are swimsuit star Karolina Kurkova; member of supermodel Mt. Rushmore Naomi Campbell; and Coca Rocha, a 24-year-old Canadian model and muse known for her fierce walks and posing. (Her Tumblr is pretty rad; check out her "pretty ugly" photos. The woman is not afraid.)
Yahoo! TV chatted with Rocha earlier this week about what sets "The Face" apart from shows like "ANTM"; how the concept itself brings the drama; and not knowing who Naomi Campbell was.
You must be crazy busy with Fashion Week and everything, so we will try not to keep you too long – even though we have many many nerdy questions for you.
We like nerdy questions.
Awesome, we will try to nerd out as much as possible then. …We think this show, "The Face," is a new, unique set-up for a modeling-slash-fashion competition, because it has more of a "Survivor" feel to it – but it also feels more real-world practical, in a way. What do you think about that – do you think that setting up with teams and captains this way lets the best talent come through? Is this more sort of realistic?
It is realistic in the sense that in our industry, that's kinda how you make it; someone takes you under their wing and kinda mentors you through the beginning of your career, and that's usually the girls at the top of their game, that's how it works. For example, for me it was a photographer named Steven Meisel who helped with my career and told me what jobs I should do, what shows I should be doing, and here I am today!
And so it is a practical thing, it is realistic, and to show the world how it works is I think a great thing, and seeing last year how many mentor shows came out, you know, for best talent, or music, or singing, whatever, but people really love that, and for people who love fashion, will definitely love the fact that there's three models, mentoring young models. I think, a formula of success, really.
What else about "The Face" would you say sets it apart from, for one, "America's Next Top Model" – is it giving us more, like you were just saying, practical behind-the-scenes insight?
It is! Your three mentors, we never actually get to say, you know, who wins out of the three teams; that is not our job. Our job is to mentor the girls as best as possible, but in the end, it is up to real campaigns, it is up to the real people behind, you know – the clients, really; it's up to them.
So as much as we like to think, you know, "Team Coco, you're gonna win," it's not up to me, and that is how it works in real life; it's not up to the model, it's not up to your team behind you, it's up to that client what they're looking for that day, that season, and a lot of people are gonna think, "Well, that's silly," [that] they don't win just because, say, the client doesn't like the hair color, or they don't win because they don't like how the model posed. But that is our life, that is real, and I think people will be fascinated by that, because for example, you, when you write a story, you go to your boss, and the boss says, "I don't really like this story, please bring something else." For us, we come into that room and it's just, our body of work is us, and sometimes you see how, like, these girls are let down, because they did everything they needed to do, but they weren't the pick of the season.
So it's fascinating to people that this is how the industry works, and how we try and teach the girls.
Do you wish they'd shown more of the team selection process in the premiere? They sort of sped through that, which we get from a TV standpoint –
Yeah, it's hard for me because I'm not TV at all, so I don't know why they choose things that they choose, but you know, last week was the casting special, so they did air it. Maybe they didn't announce [it], to make it sound like it was the premiere of it, but they did air the casting special. But that of course is very fascinating to me, even if I'm watching – I always watch "American Idol," and I always like the people that come and think they can sing, I think that's really fascinating. So they did show it, they have it online, but we're starting off, day one starting with campaigns.
Have you worked with Naomi Campbell before? In other capacities, like runway?
You know, my first season, actually, I had the chance to walk by her on a show, Anna Sui, but funny enough, at the time I didn't know who she was, like at all, and people think that that's impossible, but believe me, it is possible, I did not know who she was, and after everyone was making a big buzz about how she had come up to me after and said, "You know, I really love your walk; your walk is my favorite walk," I thought, "Well, this lady's nice!" And I looked into who this lady was, and realized, I'm an idiot, for not knowing who Naomi was.