The Caribbean’s Next Top Model Hostess with the Mostest
By Kia Standard
If you ask WENDY FITZWILLIAM how she defines beauty, she’ll tell you, “I don’t. I just know it when I see or when I experience it.”
That “Je ne se quoi” is the exact quality the panel of judges experienced when they crowned Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Wendy Fitzwilliam, to reign as Miss Universe 1998. Beauty, talent, intelligence and determination. Determination being her most prevalent superpower.
As the other pageant hopefuls faded behind the footlights, Fitzwilliam’s star was gathering momentum. After Miss Universe, she became an attorney, entrepreneur, recording artist, author, philanthropist, and full time mom. All roles which have led to her latest venture, Executive Producer and Host of Caribbean’s Next Top Model.
TIMMAG: What gave you the idea to launch a franchise of Next Top Model in the Caribbean?
WF: Upon receiving American’s Next Top Model as a business and recognizing the lack of original programming created in the Caribbean, once the opportunity presented itself, I bit. Top Model is a proven and popular TV format, which provided us a chance to put our own unique Caribbean spin into this fabulous fashion and beauty mix.
TIMMAG: What makes CNTM unique?
WF: This show is the first pan-Caribbean show to be televised across the region. We are presenting ourselves as we see ourselves. It’s very empowering and translates well to our audience, whether from the Dutch, English, French or Spanish Caribbean.
TIMMAG: As a Miss Universe winner, how does it feel to be on the other side of the table, mentoring the next generation of models and superstars?
WF: Like everything else I have done in my life, there are aspects of the show that I love, working with the girls and fellow judges, planning challenges each week. Elimination is not easy. Being on the panel is great until I have to axe a young lady, particularly when it’s on camera. The further into the process we are, the more attached I become to my girls, despite my better judgment. Secretly, I love them all. I must maintain a balance between nurturing and aloof as not to compromise the competition. But it is hard.
TIMMAG: How do shows like Caribbean’s Next Top Model propel a model’s career?
WF: One word…VISIBILITY.
TIMMAG: With the evolving aesthetics of the fashion industry, will Caribbean’s Next Top Model welcome plus-size and transgender models?
WF: Caribbean’s Next Top Model will evolve to include whatever the ideals are of beauty in this industry. ANTM has a history of venturing into less popular waters and making a difference, as a franchise we plan to make ANTM proud in this regard also.
WENDY FITZWILLIAM, Miss Universe 1998
All images © Pedro Virgil Photography ™
INSTAGRAM : @pedrovirgil, TWITTER: @PEDROVIRGIL1
TIMMAG: What lessons are you hoping to impart CNTM’s hopefuls with?
WF: The business of being a model is real and tough. It’s fiercely competitive. To be a sustained success you have to work hard and consistently, be disciplined and bold. Our winner should be ready to take on the industry, armed with her CNTM experience, and a modeling contract with Mint Management of New York.
TIMMAG: You are a woman of boundless
energy, who continually reinvents herself.
Do you have other projects in the works?
WF: Always, always, always…