I guess I’m not crazy after all!” said Josephine Yee, 23. Coming from an Asia’s Next Top Model (ANTM) finalist and former pageant queen, you might say that’s a pretty bold claim – but Yee did get tested.

Yee is one of two Malaysians, alongside freelance model Sheena Liam, 22, who made it to the top 16 of ANTM’s second cycle, and they’re just one day away from having their lives changed forever when the show premiers tomorrow to millions of viewers around the region.

But before they were selected, they had to go through a gruelling month-long selection process where they were up against some pretty well-known names on the local modelling circuit (though the girls wouldn’t say who), and thousands more from 18 other countries. And they also had to have their heads checked, through a series of personality and psychological tests – which is why Yee is convinced she’s not crazy.

“Maybe they were intentionally looking for the crazy ones!” said Liam with a laugh. “That’s what my mum suggested.”

On the contrary, Yee and Liam came across as perfectly grounded during their interview and photoshoot with R.AGE – a far cry from the catty personalities audiences have come to associate with the reality modelling competition, which is part of the global “Top Model” franchise created by supermodel Tyra Banks in 2003.

Asia's Next Top Model finalist Sheena Liam and Josephin

Asia’s Next Top Model finalist Sheena Liam and Josephin

The two have been friends for years on the local modelling scene. Liam’s career started when she was 15, modelling for a friend studying design in college, while Yee made her debut at 18 as one of the briefcase models on the

Malaysian version of Deal Or No Deal before moving on to beauty pageants.

While we all know reality shows can be a springboard to fame (or infamy), the girls are clear on what they want – to make it in the fashion/modelling industry – and they’re not gonna let these 15 minutes in the spotlight get to their heads.

“My parents are very grounded people. They tell me not to get my head in the clouds,” said Liam.

“My parents still want me to get a nine-to-five job!” added Yee. Incidentally, both girls recently graduated with degrees in mass communications, and both their fathers are engineers.

The 16 finalists on the show come from 12 different countries, with Yee and Liam one of the few who had a compatriot to lean on during the entire process.

“The emotions you see on the show are definitely real,” said Liam. “(During filming), we are completely cut off from the rest of the world. No handphones, no Internet, no newspapers… We aren’t even allowed to talk to the hair and makeup people. We actually got told off for that once, so it’s very, very tough.”

Watch the premier of Asia’s Next Top Model cycle two tomorrow at 9:40pm on Star World (Astro Ch 711 or HD Ch 722).

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