KATHMANDU, Dec 18: Aastha Pokharel’s cropped hair frames her pretty face nicely, and she’s a known face in the modeling industry today. She started out two years ago, and with around a dozen shows in her kitty, she has established her presence firmly in the fashion scene in Kathmandu. Her participation in Asia’s Next Top Model pageant has served to introduce her to brighter things.
For someone who chanced upon modeling, she’s done very well for herself in the last two years. She has received appreciation for her work at fashion weeks, numerous shows and magazine covers. The 21-year-old model is equipped with a diploma in nursing which she wants to utilize during medical camps later in the future.
Republica caught up with the nurse turned model. Excerpts:
How did Asia’s Next Top Model happen?
It was my good friend Sakil Kunwar who suggested that I try for it. I checked what it was about and I sent in my application online. When I got through the first selection, I had to send in more pictures, and everything was again done online. It was only for the last round that I had to be present in person. For that, I flew to Singapore for a day.
How would you describe your experience there? Was there anything you especially liked or disliked about it?
Asia’s Next Top Model has definitely been a life changing experience for me. I made friends there with other participants, and especially Sofia Wakabayashi, Rachel Erasmus, and Stephanie Retuya have become good friends now. I was in Singapore for two months in July and August. Everyday, we had a lot of things to do. We either had challenges to win or photo shoots where we had to express ourselves in different spheres, like quirky, wild etc. There was, of course, a lot to learn, and my time there has cemented my desire to go out and try international modeling. I have a good portfolio now and it’ll be a great help.
There isn’t anything I particularly disliked about my two months there. However, I’m concerned about how I’m projected in the show. It’s a reality show and we were being recorded all the time, but they only put in bits of what actually happens. We were all staying in one house. There was no Internet to see what was going on or to stay in touch, and no connection for most of the time, with no other people apart from those on the show. We were only allowed to make calls back home a few times a month and we had to speak in English because it was recorded.
You said you want to go abroad. What would be your dream gig?
I knew I wanted to go overseas and see and experience what the modeling scene was like, and the show has made me want it more. We all dream big and I’m no exception. I would love to walk for designers like Roberto Cavalli, and see how it’s like in Milan and London. Even if I don’t make it to the big leagues, I really want to see the world. I see it happening within the next five years because, like most things, modeling has a shelf life too. I want to achieve whatever I can before it’s too late.
What sort of changes in the modeling scene have you perceived within your two years?
It’s just been two years for me, so I’m not qualified to talk about how things were before. But personally, I feel that things are better these days. The payment, the organizers, the events, they are all improving with each show and seem to be heading for more positive times. Nevertheless, it’ll take some 30 years before things are really on par and satisfying.
What is it about modeling that you find irresistible?
It’s how I truly feel in my element that pulls me to it. I enjoy photo shoots because it’s like art to me. One can be creative and expressive during shoots. And I love walking the ramp. Before every show, I have this moment where, for a few seconds, I go blank. Yet, the next moment I’ll feel very comfortable and good about myself.
So what have you got lined up for yourself now?
Currently, I’m looking at agencies abroad. I want to see where my face and body structure fit and I want to try in that region. In the meantime, I have TGIF Nepal Fashion Week and Trendsetters II to look forward to. I may also be going to Pokhara to walk for Tenzin Tseten Bhutia soon.