ALEX QUILL chats with Cork model Kellie Forde abot her role as a contestant on Sky TV show Britain And Ireland’s Next Top Model
GROWING up on a farm in Glanmire, 21-year-old Kellie Forde (above) could never in her wildest dreams have imagined that she would be in Dubai rubbing shoulders with Elle ‘The Body’ McPherson in the final 14 of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model.
Although Kellie remained tight lipped on who the winner of the show is, she said that the experience was one that she will never forget and she feels that it is something which will stay with her forever.
Speaking about appearing in the Sky Living show, Kellie said that while it looks easy and carefree on television, the series really puts the girls through their paces, challenging them to breaking point, so that the judges can decide who is really up for the challenge.
“The experience was amazing, but at the same time it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done.
“It was overwhelming and daunting and I feel that it helped me to learn more about myself and grow as a person. When people sit down on a Monday night to watch the show, they don’t realise how hard it is, like you are on television with complete strangers, taken completely out of your comfort zone and the judges really push you to your limits.
“It’s one of those points in my life that I feel will really shape me as a person.”
While the show was filmed months ago, one of the strangest things for Kellie is looking back on it now as it is being aired, with her friends, family and boyfriend Stephen McDonnell.
Being the youngest of six, she said that her family and boyfriend have been really supportive, but it is quite hard to watch the shows, because they filmed so much and edited so much out that it is hard to speculate on what will be shown in the end.
“I’m my own worst critic, like I cringe watching myself, but when my brother and boyfriend saw it they were just laughing and making jokes, which was good because it took the pressure off.
“When I’m watching it, I just don’t know what to expect because they filmed so much footage and you don’t know what they will pick for each show.
“But luckily I think I’ve been painted in a very true light so far.
Although I know that the tears and crying fits are yet to come and I’m dreading that part of it!”
Kellie said that when she first entered, she kept going through each round not really believing that she would get anywhere, and even now the reality of it all is still starting to hit home.
“I come from a really normal family and I grew up on a country farm and one of the things I found was that when you hear people on TV, they are often American or English, and here I was among all of these neutral accents with a really strong Cork accent.
“I felt like my accent really stood out like a sore thumb. I felt like I was so different from everyone else, I was sure they would think I was a complete bogger.”
Throughout the show, Kellie and fellow contestant Lisa Madden, 20, who is also from Cork, became really close and she said because they had the Cork connection it was really easy to be comfortable with each other.
“Lisa and myself hit it off instantly, she’s just such a sweetheart and throughout the show, we were such a support to each other.
“The competition is by its very nature, tough, lonely and competitive, but me and Lisa were more like allies and we were there to pick each other up and by the end of the show we were like sisters.
“All of the girls were a great bunch, I genuinely got along with everyone. The whole show was a real eye opener for me, because there were girls that I would have judged and been intimidated by before and then I got to know them and realised they are human just like me, so it has really taught me not to judge people.”
In the first episode of the show, the 20 finalists were whisked off to Dubai and for Kellie, who said she still gets excited going to London, this opened up a whole new world.
“When I was getting call backs, I just went along to see what would happen — I never thought that I could be the girl on the show.”
Kellie’s family are so proud of what she has achieved and it’s hard to imagine that the girl striding confidently down the catwalk is the same one who was happily chasing cows when she was just a tot.
Kellie works in Top Shop in Opera Lane and studied fashion design in the Mallow College of Further Education. Even if she doesn’t go into a fully fledged modelling career after this, she hopes to work within the industry, possibly as a designer.
“The judges all really like my style and asked me in one of the first shows if I had a stylist, which was really flattering.
“I’m going to keep my options open, I love modelling, but at the same time I know I’m not going to be the next Gisele Bundchen. I’ll see where the show takes me and creativity would be my strongest point. I do see myself working in the fashion industry, so I’m hoping the show will point me in the right direction.”
Being a bit of a home bird, Kellie said that it would be great if the fashion worlds of London or Milan could just be transported to Cork, because this is where she would love to be, but in order to succeed in the fashion industry she is willing to go wherever she needs to.
“I love home and I love Cork, I just wish there was a bigger fashion industry here.
“Eventually, wherever I go, I would love to think that I will get to come home to Cork, but the fashion world is in London.”
Elle McPherson described Kellie as being a young lady with more charm than meets the eye, saying that the young Cork girl has great potential and is sweet and loveable.
“During the show Elle gave very good and honest advice and I was quite taken aback by her at first, because she is a self-made millionaire, so everything she said I listened to intently and it is all advice that I will keep with me throughout my career, no matter what I do.”
The winner of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model will win a contract with international model agency Models1, a cover and feature with Company magazine, a contract with Revlon cosmetics, a luxury holiday to Dubai and an apartment in Central London with an international campaign with Miss Selfridge — so fingers crossed for our Kellie and Lisa!