EXCLUSIVE: “First It Was Asia, Then The World!”—You Haven't Seen The Last Of Top Model Adela-Mae Marshall
On Adela: Coat by Mango and top by Ulysses Caragayan (pants by Stradivarius and heels by Charles & Keith, as seen in the gallery below)
This photoshoot was scheduled after Adela-Mae Marshall's Asia's Next Top Model journey in Bangkok, Thailand, a mere few days before the airing of the show's last episode. She was back in Manila, but the finale of the AsNTM's sixth cycle hadn't happened yet. By that time, we were all well aware of the pride she had given the Philippines for making it all the way to the Top 3, but Adela-Mae already knew then who the winner was.
And without the slightest hint on the result, everyone at this shoot was convinced she was the winner—from her bright and positive aura, to her refreshing and bubbly personality off-cam, to her strong presence and pro modeling skills on-cam, even down to how she talks eloquently and carries herself sophisticatedly in both our audio and video interviews. Though admittedly quite an introvert, she's the total package, packing on the beauty, wit, talent, charm, and great attitude.
Last October 24, Filipinos were tuned in as AsNTM revealed its winner. In the end, however, Thailand's Dana Slosar emerged victorious. Our country's representative was gracious in defeat, as she hugged and congratulated the season's top model. Adela-Mae, former runner-up at Philippines' Next Top Model Cycle 2, took to Instagram to express how grateful she is for the opportunity to represent the Philippines internationally.
Adela-Mae's last photo shoot for Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 6
She wrote, "Sabi ko noon, ‘Laban Pilipinas,’ and kahit hindi ako manalo ngayon I will continue to try and represent the Philippines in the best way I can. Maraming maraming salamat para sa suportahan n’yo I’m sorry I couldn’t bring home the title for a back-to-back win but I hope I was able to show you na pusong Pinoy ako. I hope I was able to represent the Philippines well and I hope to be able to see you soon... or maybe you’ll be seeing me."
Seeing her achieve more things is something that's guaranteed, with her goal-oriented, driven, and competitive personality.
In this exclusive interview with Metro.Style, you'll get to know more about Adela-Mae Marshall as she talks about her life in England, her family, her passions, and her top model dreams.
On Adela:Top by Mango and coat by Zara (skirt and boots both by Forever 21, as seen in the gallery below)
On her Filipino roots and being "different"
Adela-Mae, an unica hija, was born and raised in England. Her mom is Filipina, while her dad is British. Her parents met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where her mom was working as a flight attendant for the Middle Eastern country's royal family.
"I think, growing up in England, I lived a quite sheltered life where everyone around me was blonde and had blue eyes. I went to a boarding school, so everyone was like that. I always knew that I was different but it never really stuck out to me. I’m lucky enough to have never experienced any bullying. As I got older, the more I was interested in the other half of me where my mom came from, because that side is a mystery but it’s very much a part of me, so I was the one who told my mom that I wanted to experience living in the Philippines."
On her favorite memories in the Philippines
Although it was only in 2016 when Adela-Mae moved to the Philippines, she and her family would visit the country once a year or once every two years.
"I did come to the Philippines a lot especially during Christmas. We were always here for Christmas, before I moved here. I have favorite memories of my cousin, specially when I was younger, because I feel like, even if there was a language barrier, that didn’t matter, because you just play games. As I got older, the more I would say, 'Mom, when are we going back to the Philippines?' I always enjoyed my Christmases here."
On how she got into modeling
Unlike other little girls who aspire to become models, Adela-Mae never thought she'd become one. She was first scouted in England when she was about 14 years old, and she was also once scouted by an agency based in New York. But her first real foray into modeling was for a fashion presentation of a local clothing brand here in the Philippines.
"I had no interest in it at the time. I was so awkward. At the time, I was tall for my age; now, I'm on the shorter end for models. I just didn’t see it. I wasn’t interested at all, but my mom modeled here in the Philippines when she was younger. And her former agent, every time we would visit for Christmas, she would say, 'You know, Adela, you should stay. You can do TV commercials and model.' TV commercials here are very different from England. When I moved here, we had dinner with her and she was like, 'Oh Adela, I have a casting, do you wanna go?' I booked the job only two weeks after I moved here. I had no idea how to model. I couldn’t even walk in heels... It was crazy! The first year, I booked, maybe, five, and the next year, maybe, six TVCs, which I was told later was a big thing. I had no idea what I was doing."
"[The best thing about being a Filipino] is the sense of community—wherever you go in the world, when you meet other Filipinos, there's immediately that affinity, you have that bond"
On Adela: Coat by Bershka, top by Mango, pants by Neon Island, and boots by Charles & Keith
On how a day is like for her now
A marketing student from the Southville International School and Colleges Manila, Adela-Mae had to opt for online schooling to be able to juggle her studies and her blossoming career. If everything goes according to her plans, she will be able to graduate in two years.
"I actually have finals at the moment. I took a break 'cause I'm writing papers. The way that my schooling works is they sort of send lessons per week and then I do that in my own time. But because I self-school, I have to discipline myself. I try to wake up early, like 8:30 a.m., and I procrastinate for, like, an hour or two. Then I try to pull myself to the gym, depends on my mood. I feel like exercising in the morning kind of helps me focus in the afternoon."
On discovering her love for music
Adela-Mae was a Viva recording artist, and she even released a single titled "I'm Just Like You." Although she doesn't have a recording label at the moment, she hopes to one day continue her career in the local music scene.
"My parents have a really eclectic taste. And I think, growing up, I was exposed to a lot of different genres. I was six when I started playing the guitar. I remember I asked for a guitar from Santa Claus as a Christmas present when I was 12. As much as I enjoyed singing, I never really sang in front of people, just my friends. I think it was a music competition in school, and I was selected as a soloist and I won. I was about 13, and I thought I was actually alright at this."
"As much as I love modeling now, music is always gonna be that first love, first boyfriend. Even when you've moved on, you kind of come back to it."
On Philippines' Next Top Model being her training ground
Despite not having enough experience in modeling, Adela-Mae joined Philippines' Next Top Model's Cycle 2. It was a learning experience for her that significantly helped improve her modeling skills. One of the pieces of advice she got from PNTM host Maggie Wilson-Consunji that she still follows today is to practice smiling or posing in front of a mirror, no matter how awkward it may seem.
"I think, when I joined Philippines' Next Top Model in 2017, that was the first time I kind of realized that I don’t really know how to pose in front of the camera. If you look at pictures of me basically anywhere before 18, I had this signature puppy dog look. I wouldn’t look at the camera. PNTM made me realize the angles that work for me and those that don't. I really think that I, kind of, learned my modeling skills, almost like an OJT, while doing PNTM. That was my training."
On joining Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 6
Adela-Mae may not have been named the winner, but she was still able to take home with her precious prizes whose values are immeasurable: friends, mentors and, more importantly, experiences.
"I finished first runner-up on Philippines' Next Top Model. I was thinking, 'You’re almost there.' But actually, I was really hesitant when my manager Chinie Go asked me if I was interested in joining. I sort of thought there’d be that pressure to do just as well as I did in PNTM, if not better. And of course, we are the defending country, so I was worried that it was going to be too much pressure, and that maybe my skills weren't good enough to be international. But, at the end of the day, I decided I might as well try. When I auditioned, in my mind, I might not even make it to the live shows, let alone get to the Top 3 or win."
"Where do I go from here? First, it was Asia. Then, the world!"
On Adela: Dress by H&M, coat by Stradivarius (and heels by Charles & Keith, as seen in the gallery above)
On her best learning from AsNTM
The opportunity to represent your country is in itself life-changing, and for Adela-Mae, she came out of this journey as a better person in more ways than one.
"I've learned the importance of being authentic. I think it only actually became more important recently because models have more voice these days. Seeing someone authentic, genuinely happy in a photo specially to a young girl who's looking at it—'Oh wow, this girl is really confident. I should be, too.'"
On what she discovered about herself in the competition
Having joined two modeling competitions in two consecutive years did create an impact on sharpening her skills. But more than enhancing her skillset, what matters more is how her character was developed during these journeys.
"I found out that I'm really competitive. I never really considered myself a competitive person, but I think it was inevitable in that environment where you’re constantly being pushed to be the best version of yourself. I though, 'if I'm gonna be the best version of myself, I might as well be the best one in this competition, too.'"
"I've learned the importance of being authentic... And I found out that I'm really competitive"
On Adela: Dress by H&M and boots by Forever 21
On her dream shoot concept
Her favorite photo shoot during the AsNTM competition was the Black Swan (Swan Lake-inspired), photographed by one of the show's judges, American photographer Yu Tsai. Not only did Adela-Mae find the concept amazing, she was extremely honored to work with this internationally recognized lensman as well.
"I actually really love going to a set and being surprised by what the peg is and things that are really outside the box. I used to really limit myself that I'm only a commercial model, but now that I've gone beyond my limits, I'm excited to see what else I'm capable of."
On what people would be surprised to know about her
Adela-Mae has a pretty cool personality. While she has her eyes dead set on the prize, she doesn't forget to have fun in the process, too. She admits that she's a bit of an introvert, who would rather stay at home and watch movies or TV shows than go out.
"I know I say things and it takes people by surprise—maybe it's because the way I view myself and the way others view me are different. I know people get surprised when I tell them I’ve never dated. I like surprising people."
"I think that, in some ways, I'm still finding my style. I don’t have a signature one. I'm still open to experimenting but overall, I think it's more on the basic, timeless side. I'm dreading the day when I have kids and they find pictures of me and ask me, 'Mom, what are you wearing?'"
On Adela: Top by H&M, skirt by Yves Camingue (and heels by Forever 21, as seen in the gallery above)
Photography Rxandy Capinpin
Creative Direction Chookie Cruz
Styling Gelie Manansala
Makeup Christine Laviña using NARS
Hair Dave Grona
Shot on location at Philippine School of Interior Design's "Juxtapose" exhibit
Special thanks to Chinie Go of Prima Stella MGT