Q&A: Jay Manuel Ramps Up Canada's Next Top Model for Third Season
Posted: 05/25/09 10:46AM
Filed Under: Canada's Next Top Model
By CHRIS JANCELEWICZ
Well-known across North America, Canadian-raised Jay Manuel is back again for another cycle of Canada's Next Top Model. Just like last year's smash hit So You Think You Can Dance Canada, this season of CNTM promises to be higher-budget, faster-paced, and incredibly entertaining. Manuel insists that Canadian TV doesn't have to be boring, and his personal goal for this cycle was to be certain of that.
Manuel sat down to talk with us about the upcoming cycle, which premieres on CTV on Tuesday, May 26.
Things have certainly taken off for you...you've been the mentor for the girls on 'America's Next Top Model' for several seasons, you have your own show, 'Style Her Famous', you're an E! correspondent, and now you're returning to host 'Canada's Next Top Model'. Did you ever imagine you'd be where you are right now?
That's a heavy question...especially in the world of fashion. For me, in retrospect, I look back at myself, even as a teenager, and I certainly had a sense of drive. I knew what I was passionate about. It was an interesting road, getting to where I am today. I would be lying if I said I was totally shocked about where I ended up. I'm saying that with no ego - I really wanted to be a part of this business, and I worked really hard to get here.
How important was it for you to be part of 'Canada's Next Top Model'?
Very important. We're on CTV now, and that in itself ensures a broader reach, more eyeballs. Everyone in the country can see what we're doing. Right off the top, it was important for me to represent the country from coast-to-coast - and if you look at the group of women on the show, I think we've achieved it. We honour the ethnic diversity that Canada has.
When I looked at the 11 finalists, I was surprised at how many weren't from Ontario. Last season, the majority were from there.
A lot of them were from the Greater Toronto Area, yeah. But because we're going national this year with CNTM, we wanted to properly represent the country. Often, top models are plucked from obscurity. There's such amazing Canadian talent everywhere in the international scene. We have to have girls come from all over this country. There's a couple girls in this cycle who've never even been on a plane. I love that.
How are the contestants looking this season?
We found a group of girls who truly have the potential to be top models. Rebecca [Hardy, cycle 2 winner] is successful as a model, and supports herself as a model, and I'm very proud of that. I really wanted to find a group of girls that would make the competition really tight, so that the audience is sitting at home pondering who's going to win. Also, I wanted to pick up the pace of the show; I added more challenges, and we're going to throw more twists and turns at the girls. That's what this industry is all about.
I've heard through the grapevine that the contestants get to travel, too.
No international format of Top Model has ever travelled anywhere, but we do have two international trips for the girls. And right off the top in the first episode, there's a really major twist - something we've not done on ANTM - another interesting trip added in there. There's a lot of change and a lot of motion in this show, which I think accurately reflects the industry.
How about the judges? I assume you guys are more of a team at this point.
I've brought on photographer Mike Ruiz this season - he's a remarkable guy and an incredible photographer. Yasmin [Warsame] is returning, and of course Jeanne [Beker] will be there. The four of us, there's such camaraderie there - even though we all come from different experiences, we're all looking for the same thing. And even though we're all agreeing, it's kind of like a group of good friends. When you're hanging out with them, you don't really mind your p's and q's. No one is afraid to say anything.
Oh, and you've got Nole Marin back as well. He's a character in himself.
[Laughs] Yes, he is.
Canadian shows have this reputation for being boring, having lower budgets, being slow-paced, etc. But shows like 'So You Think You Can Dance Canada' did so well...
I can guarantee you that this show is not slow-paced. At all. I grew up in Toronto, and I'm very proud to be a Canadian citizen, and I personally feel there's a bad rap for the Canadian versions of shows. There's no reason for it. There's so many talented people up there, you just have to pull all the right people together to make it work. I think the audiences want the pacing of an American show, and they want everything thrown at the girls.
Are there any guest stars on set this season?
Oh yeah. Of course. We had to bring people who make sense to the show. I can't say who, unfortunately. In terms of Canadian talent, I wanted them to be people who are recognized on the international scene.
I really hope you try to get Linda Evangelista in there.
I can't say - and this isn't a knock against Linda - but at the end of the day, if you want to make sure you have a show, you want to have people who are articulate and bring energy to a show. Sometimes there are people in fashion who you think 'Wow, they're a name!', but there's a reason they're just a face.
Watch as Jay and the other judges search for 'Canada's Next Top Model', which airs on Tuesdays on CTV at 8 pm ET, premiering on May 26.