Lips pursed, hair slicked back in a ponytail, Lisa Haydon stands ramrod straight as she poses for photographs, owning every bit of her white cut-out dress. For the model-turned-actor, life has come a full circle — she is one of the judges on MTV’s India’s Next Top Model, the Indian adaptation of the American model-hunt show. “This is very close to my heart, helping other models groom themselves to achieve their dreams,” says Haydon, as she tucks into a piece of cheese toast.
The show features 13 girls from across the country vying for the top title. Akin to the American syndication, it follows the reality-show format, with glimpses into the lives of the models as they live together in a house. Physical attributes such as height and looks aside, Haydon — along with photographer Dabboo Ratnani, VJ Anusha Dandekar and grooming expert Neeraj Gaba — will judge the participants on creativity.
She explains that the profession isn’t about walking the ramp alone; it demands that one enact stories through body language. “Modelling is an art, it requires one to bring personality, character and style to the table. As a top model, one will do editorials for magazines. These are just pictures, no words,” says Haydon, who stumbled into modelling as a means to earn some extra money while she aspired to be a yoga teacher in Australia.
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With a number of new platforms, provided by multiple fashion weeks, the opportunities in modelling over the last decade have multiplied in India. But the supermodel phenomenon seems to have faded out. Haydon attributes this to commercialisation. “The world has become a lot more transient and temporary. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to stay. Most make quick money and move on to other things,” she states, citing instances of social media sensations Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner.
While she made her Bollywood debut five years ago with Aisha, Haydon garnered critical acclaim only last year, for her role as a free-spirited single mother in Queen. She clarifies that it wasn’t her western aesthetics that led to the character’s mass acceptance. “My intention was to deliver a good performance, whatever be the character. I didn’t intend it to change conventions but it’s good if that has happened along the way.” She also confesses that being a model, in fact, has proved to be a disadvantage to her acting career as people assumed she cannot act. “It was a notion I had to work very hard to break. People initially took to the character for its sex appeal but eventually it resonated with the audience,” she says.
Haydon is tight-lipped about her next project, the multi-starrer Housefull 3, and says that she will continue to remain picky about the films she signs. She says, “While I love a big banner, I also look for integrity, the commitment of the people involved and what I can offer to