The dream of fame lured a long line of model hopefuls to Colonie Center on Sunday.
Men and women came in high heels and false eyelashes, with neatly clipped beards, faded jeans and diamonds glittering in their ears. They were tall, they were young and they were wired, as they waited for their chance to step up on stage and strut their stuff.
Each was hoping to prove to be the ideal contestant for Cycle 20 of the CW Television Network’s “America’s Next Top Model” show. Hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks, the show pits participants against each other in a competition for a cash prize and a modeling contract.
Rob Croteau, general sales manager for WRGB Channel 6 and WCWN Channel 15, the Capital Region’s CW affiliate station, said he was expecting between 400 and 500 applicants to attend Sunday’s casting call.
Similar auditions have been held at locations across the country.
Men were invited to the casting call for the first time in the show’s history. They seemed outnumbered by women Sunday at Colonie Center, but there were quite a few of them patiently awaiting their moment in the spotlight.
Standing in line, blue-eyed, 6-foot-tall Alonzo Ford, 24, of Albany, was confident he was going to be the favorite.
“I can make anything look good and I make people want to buy what I wear, so why wouldn’t they pick me?” he reasoned.
His confident air went well with his not-quite-new-looking black-and-white plaid flannel shirt and black pants.
“I just put anything on. It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the look,” he said, but then thought a minute and took that back. “It’s about both, really, but like I said, I can make anything look good. I can put rags on and still look good.”
Christopher Williams, a 21-year-old from Menands, said he thought he offered a winning package.
“I’m a young black male and I’m good-looking, so that should speak for itself,” he said with a convincing smile.
Contestants got a glimpse of the sort of person casting directors look for in a top model when the show’s most recent winner, Laura James of Cambridge, took to the stage where the model hopefuls were being interviewed.
Tall and blonde, with a glamorous sort of girl-next-door way about her, she wished the contestants well.
“It just takes that one audition,” she assured the crowd. “It can happen for you.”
Offstage, James recalled the day in New York City when she was waiting for her turn to audition for the show.
“I just remember the nerves of sitting there and just thinking, ‘Should I really do this or not?’ But it’s totally possible and it’s very achievable,” she said.
Within a month, James said she’ll move either to New York City or Los Angeles to continue her modeling career.
Last year, Scotia native Laura LaFrate was a runner-up on “America’s Next Top Model.”
As mall shoppers stared curiously from the sidelines, scores of young men and women dreaming of a glamorous life in fashion smiled for a video camera, strutted back and forth onstage and answered questions including, “Would you do anything to win the competition?”
Competition is fierce, not just on the show, but in the modeling world at large, said Jean Paul Simille, owner of the local Jean Paul Spa and Salons.
His stylists were curling hair and brushing blush onto the cheeks of potential models who needed a little touching up before stepping in front of the camera Sunday.
Simille said he has worked with many models in New York City, and he’s seen how brutal life in that industry can be.
“It pays off in the end, but it’s grueling, and their ego gets crushed,” he said.
He surveyed the line of nervous hopefuls Sunday morning and decided some of them might have a slight chance.
“Maybe one out of 100, if that,” he projected.
Despite the fact that he makes his living in the beauty industry, Simille said dazzling hair and makeup isn’t what will win over the casting directors of “America’s Next Top Model.”
“It’s a presence. It’s not the beauty. It’s not even the looks. It’s something that attracts you … something that is different; just a plain beauty,” he said. “There’s zillions of pretty girls. They don’t become models. If you look at a magazine, [the models] have something. It’s natural. You have to be natural.”
Krystal Murry, who waited in line for the casting call from before sunrise Sunday, stepped off the stage a little after 11 a.m., radiating an exuberance that outshone her physical beauty. Standing over 6 feet tall in her sky-high heels, the 22-year-old Albany resident flashed a megawatt smile.
Sunday’s audition was her first step toward modeling, and despite the hours-long wait, she was walking on air.
“They asked some positive things about me and a bunch of questions about how I thought I could contribute to the competition and it just gave me the pump I needed,” she said. “It was definitely worth it. I’m so happy I came.”