KOTA KINABALU: Popularly known as the Land Below the Wind, Sabah should probably be now known as the land of hidden beauties.
Sabahans swept the Ford Models Supermodel of the World Search Malaysia 2011 by producing eight out of the 24 semi-finalists, the largest number so far from a single state.
Organising chairman Datuk Nancy Yeoh said she was thrilled with the audition which was held on Saturday at the Magellan Sutera Resort.
“We came here hoping to find four or five semi-finalists and it is extremely fulfilling to be able to leave Kota Kinabalu with an unexpected eight which makes up one-third of the semi-finalists,” she said.
“On top of that, they comprise a cross-section of ethnic groups, something we have been advocating from the start – that we are looking for a true, all-Malaysian girl.
“It would appear that the east Malaysians (Sarawak produced five semi-finalists) are going to give the girls from the capital city a serious run for their money,” Yeoh said.
The eight semi-finalists from Sabah are from the Bajau, Visaya Dusun, Sino Kadazan, Runggus and Banjar ethnic groups.
They are Nazarah Nicolous, 23, Iyliana John, 20, Atika Karim, 18, Hafizzah Karim, 25, Jassinta Mirasol, 23, Joey Yong, 17, Nur Jawaheer, 23, and Audrey Mu, 24.
Nur Jawaheer, who is a mix of Bajau, Runggus and Banjar, said: “Ford Models can improve my career in modelling. It is a great opportunity and platform for me. I have joined many pageants before but I have always aspired for a career that would take me to the international level.”
Iyliana John, who is of Malay and Scottish descent, said she had always wanted to make a mark in the modelling industry outside of Sabah.
The Sabah audition was the third nationwide pit-stop of the Ford Models search, following Sarawak and Johor which produced one semi-finalist (Phoebe How).
The last audition will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
It is open to Malaysian women aged 18 and above. Participants younger than 18 (minimum age 14) require written parental approval. Interested parties can call the Ford Supermodel Hotline at 014-729-7541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.