Island girls vie
for YM cover
Two make the cutBy Nadine Kam
out of 10,000 national
Assistant Features Editor
TWO teen-agers from Kamehameha Schools are among the 10 finalists in the 37th annual YM Cover Girl Model Search. Derika Tamura, who will be a sophomore in the fall, and Kaleinani Keawe, who will be a senior, left for New York during the weekend for the Wednesday contest, which drew 10,000 entries from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The contest winner will receive a $10,000 modeling contract from Cover Girl.
This makes it the third year in a row that finalists have been from Hawaii. Past finalists include Stacie Hess (1996), who has since signed with the Wilhelmina modeling agency in New York and local agency ADR, and Kimberly Nault (1997), who models locally.
Hawaii's women represent the new diversity in beauty. Lesley Seymour, editor in chief for YM magazine, said, "We try to reflect what is going on with the population at large. We still know that blond hair and blue eyes sells, but that's not America anymore.
"Modern beauty is about diversity, different looks and personality, and the Hawaii girls reflect that. It's not about plastic, cosmetic beauty anymore. Think real life."
Seymour said the trend toward diversity likely started with Calvin Klein and Benetton ads 10 to 15 years ago, and the movement is enjoying momentum as the millennium approaches.
"Our October issue, which is when we announce the winners," Seymour said, "will propel us into the year 2000."
For the first time in the history of the model search, "We threw out the height and weight requirements," she said. "I want a real girl with a real body, a real person."
Tamura and Keawe, acquaintances at Kamehameha, said they were surprised and elated to hear about one another making it into the finals. Both sent in photographs on a whim.
"I was very surprised," said Tamura, an avid soccer player. "I didn't expect anything, although in the back of my mind I thought it would be good to go to New York.
"My mom was more excited than I was. I just concentrate on school and sports."
Keawe is hoping her speech classes and discipline learned from hula will pay off during the contest, in which 50 percent of the judging is based on poise, 25 percent on personality and 25 percent on interview.
"I never really considered myself the model type, but if it doesn't work out, I'd still like to work at an agency or something."
She said she's glad that Tamura will be there. "I feel like I know someone so I won't have to go through it alone," Keawe said.