Huddersfield teenager Gemma Davy will be heading for London this weekend to find out if she’s got what it takes to be a supermodel. She was chosen from among 4,200 entrants for the finals of the annual Top Model UK competition. Hilarie Stelfox reports
GEMMA DAVY is a leggy 5ft 10ins tall and has a naturally slender size 6/8 frame.
She looks like a model – and has every intention of being one.
Since the age of 14, when she entered her first beauty pageant, she’s had her heart set on it.
Now 18, the former Huddersfield New College student, who left full time education last year, is pinning her hopes on reaching the top in the Top Model UK competition in London this weekend.
In fact, she has yet to look for a job because she is so focused on a career in modelling.
Gemma, from Kirkburton, has already beaten thousands of other hopefuls to a place in the final and is just one of just 20 girls who will take to the catwalk in the high fashion ‘editorial’ category, which aims to find the next generation of runway and photographic models.
“I applied for Top Model online and sent a few pictures in,” she explained. “They emailed back to ask me to go down for an audition in the ‘editorial’ category.
“I went to London in October and they told me that I was through to the final.”
Since that time Gemma has made three further trips to the capital – one to the competition’s official launch and VIP party, a second to rehearse and another to model on the runway for a designer at London Fashion Week.
So far Gemma has worked unpaid, but if she wins the Top Model UK title she will scoop a modelling contract and a raft of luxurious prizes, including a five-day photoshoot in Malta, free hairstyling for a year and an appearance on the Top Model UK television channel.
Even those who don’t win have the chance of a modelling contract.
Last year, several finalists were approached by modelling agencies and have gone on to work as models.
Gemma’s mum Nicola, a community care officer for Kirklees, says they are quietly hopeful because Gemma has already had offers.
“She was approached at London Fashion Week but one of the conditions of entry into the model competition is that she doesn’t work professionally,” said Nicola, who is fully supporting her daughter’s quest for supermodel status.
“Gemma was studying textiles, photography and fashion at school. She’s very creative but wanted to leave because she wasn’t enjoying the sixth form at all.”
“I’m looking at this experience as like an apprenticeship, to build up her confidence. It’s done wonders already.”
Although the family has had to meet the costs of travelling to and from London – including overnight stays – Gemma is being sponsored by Shepley businesswoman Lisa Monaghan-Jones and Leeds company Photography One.
Lisa, who runs the Internal Beauty clinic in Abbey Road, has been giving Gemma complementary skin treatments and helping her to prepare for the competition.
“I get spots and a few problems with my skin so I’ve been having Environ vitamin facials and microdermabrasion,’’ said Gemma. “The pores look much tighter now and my skin is much better.”
This week, in the run-up to her big day, Gemma has also had a manicure, pedicure, a further facial and a spray tan.
Photography One has helped Gemma put together a portfolio of pictures – an essential for any would-be model.
Both sponsors have also made a donation of £175 to the Top Model UK 2011 charity, the Great Ormond Street Children with Leukaemia.
Being a model will put Gemma into the spotlight, something her mum says she couldn’t have imagined when her daughter was younger.
“Gemma has always been quiet and quite shy so it was a real surprise to me when I saw her all confident on the catwalk,” said Nicola.
She also has no worries about Gemma joining an industry often accused of promoting waif-thin ideals among young women.
“Gemma eats like a horse, but she likes to eat healthily,” she explained.
When Gemma arrives in London this weekend she will have access to teams of hair stylists and make-up artists and a wardrobe of designer clothes that have been fitted to her figure.
Although she’s had no formal training as a model, she has attended a rehearsal weekend and plans to give the competition her best shot.
“I haven’t added up what it’s cost us so far for Gemma to enter,” said Nicola. “But when she’s a top model she can pay me back.”