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Interview With Australia's Next Top Model Judge Charlotte Dawson on 2011 Series

Australia's Next Top Model Catch Up With Charlotte Dawson

With only six girls left in the competition, we’re definitely at the pointy end of Australia’s Next Top Model. In last night’s episode it was Madeline’s turn to say goodbye, as her paint-splattered body pose wasn’t considered as strong as some of the other contestants’. One judge who was especially sad to see her go was Charlotte Dawson, who has seen something special in Maddy from the start (despite all the makeup!). We caught up with Charlotte to talk about her friendship with Maddy, the role of social media on the show, and much more.

On her bond with Madeline: “The first day that I saw Maddy, she was one of those ones that I really did see potential in, but I just saw her as being a real challenge because I could see that she was one of those young girls who definitely had her own sense of style. She loved all the makeup and it was gonna be hard to budge her. Maddy has a very sweet quality about her, and she’s one of the girls where I could sense that I was going to take her under my wing, but that she would also be able to give me a hard time [laughs]. You’ve got to be careful though, because there are certain girls you can’t do that with.”

On chopping Maddy’s hair off in the makeover episode: “I even get upset when my hair comes out as well, but I can just have them sewn back in! [Laughs] It was good TV but all of those girls, not necessarily just Maddy, know that when it comes to that makeover day, there are going to be major changes. And the changes aren’t made just to make good television. They’re changes to make them good models, and that has to be considered . . . It’s part of that evolution to being a great model. And even if she leaves that week, she’s going with a hair ’do, and a look, and a couple of photos and a portfolio that could possibly see her working. Our final cast are all capable of being working models, I really believe that.”

Keep reading for more from Charlotte . . .

On what’s next for Maddy: “Aside from tweeting and texting me every bloody day, she’s in Tassie and she’s gonna come and stay with me soon, she’ll be here for the final. She’s gonna come and give it a go. She’s got a great portfolio. She’ll be couch-surfing with me for a bit while she finds her feet, and hopefully she’ll do some work. She’s a beautiful girl and I have a lot of faith in her. She’s a dancer, she loves her yoga, and she’s just such a sweet girl.”

On getting to know the contestants: “I was with them a lot this season, more than I ever have been, and we all understand and respect each other, and understand that we’re there to make a TV program. When we’re on set we’re in our roles of judges and they’re in their roles of models learning, and when we’re off-set we’re mates! Those eliminations take 10-12 hours to shoot for four minutes of television, so there’s a lot of time to get to know people. And there are genuine moments that we’ve handled off-camera where girls have been upset, or girls have been challenged, or girls have missed home, which is not for TV or relevant to the story, and we’ve spent time really helping them out and bonding with them. Obviously it’s very important for us, cast and crew, to have a really good relationship and understand that we wanna make really good television.”

On the Top Model audience: “We want to give our audience what they expect. Our audience is a destination audience — we’re not a X Factor or MasterChef where we’ve got the attention of entire country. We’re kind of a niche show, because we’re about fashion and modelling, so we’ve people that watch us, they watch America’s, Britain’s, New Zealand’s . . . They love the Top Model franchise, they want to be delivered their show, they don’t want it too messed around with, but they want it bigger and better than the last time. And we’ve all gotta fulfil that expectation.”

On the role of social media: “I think it’s in episode 11 that I sit down and talk about social media [with the girls] because it’s become such a huge part, not only with television but with our show, and also the girls’ lives. So we have to tell them how to handle that. It’s incredibly confronting — I’m a little bit used to it because I’ve been in this business for a while but it still gets a bit of getting used to, picking up your BlackBerry in the morning and reading personal insults being hurled at you because you’re so accessible. Until you’ve actually experienced that and become equipped to deal with that stuff, the cyber bullying, it can be really confronting, especially if you’re not emotionally equipped to deal with it.”

On who’s embracing social media: “Simone’s adoring it! She’s hysterical. She loves seeing herself on the TV, she loves that there’s controversy — she just is who she is. She’s having a great time with it. Thank goodness, because she’s copped a bit of crap on that [Facebook] page. A girl that’s not as confident as Simone could really be affected by it.”

Photo courtesy of Harold David/Foxtel

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