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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton student debuts on “Make Me a Supermodel” reality show

<lin Steers ’09 admits he’s not the kind of person to do anything too crazy, but apparently that excludes auditioning for reality TV shows. The second season of Bravo TV’s “Make Me a Supermodel” premiered Wednesday with Steers as one of 16 men and women competing for $100,000 and a contract with New York Model Management.

“I’m not really an impulsive person,” Steers said in a phone interview conducted under the surveillance of a Bravo Communications representative. “This is one of the few times I can think of where I just jumped in the car and went to New York.”

That was last July, when a friend of Steers’ happened to be heading to New York the weekend of “Supermodel’s” open casting call. Steers called Erika Pearson ’10, who was in Washington D.C. for the summer, to see if she wanted to join them.

“At first I thought we were just going to hang out in New York for the weekend,” Pearson said, “and then he applied for the show.”

Although Steers’ brother had done some modeling in Los Angeles, before going to New York, he hadn’t given it much serious thought. “Ever since sophomore year at college, someone would ask every six months or so, ‘Are you a model?’ Just some random person on the street,” Steers said. “And then when Season One [of “Supermodel”] was airing after ‘Project Runway,’ some of my friends were like, ‘Oh, you should try that.’ It got the idea in my head.”

Having no previous modeling experience, Steers went into the process with nothing but his Clark Kent good looks. “I wasn’t quite sure what they were looking for, but I was pretty sure there weren’t any other virgins who studied neuroscience, who had never modeled before trying out,” he said. “Everyone else at the audition had portfolios, and I thought my outsider status might help.” And in fact it did—Steers was called back the same weekend.

Greg Hunter ’09, who shared a house with Steers last year, was living in New York at the time of the audition.

“Immediately after the tryout, I called him and said, ‘Don’t tell anyone. I just got a callback for this show,’” Steers said.

A month later, he was asked to send photos of himself to Bravo and was later flown to New York for another interview.

Shortly into fall term, the show informed him he would be a contestant, and he left Carleton for the Big Apple.

“I guess I was one of the first people to find out about it,” Hunter said. “In a way it’s ridiculous, but I think he’s approached it with real commitment. He’s definitely deserved the spot he got.”

Most of Steers’ “Supermodel” experience is unknown to outsiders—strict contract guidelines guarantee that—but according to friends, he remained out of contact for eight weeks after leaving Carleton, until coming back to visit during fall term Reading Days. “When he came back, it seemed like it was a wild ride,” Pearson said. “I think he thought that it was funny and exciting, and sort of ridiculous. I think he treated it like it was a life experience. It wasn’t like his career was resting on it.”

Even with his go-with-the-flow demeanor, friends feared the model attitude might rub off on Steers. “There are definitely a lot of negative things you could say about being a model,” Pearson said, “but I think that he is cautious of how this could change him. I think he will come out in the end just fine.”

Hunter did notice one change after Steers came back. “He wears his glasses much less often, which is maybe symbolic of something,” he mused, then added, “He’s still a goofball I guess. He seems to be essentially the same person.”

“I think my friends were more worried that the show had changed me than I was,” Steers said. “There were some actual issues I needed to work on. I am kind of awkward, and I think the show was good for me in that sense. I’m more comfortable around people in weird situations.”

Since coming back, Steers has continued modeling on top of the busy life of a Carleton student. Last Saturday, he traveled to the Cities for Fashion Fight Night 3, an annual modeling event held in a warehouse converted into a boxing gym. Models faced off in two-minute rounds, working with a team of photographers to capture the best shot. “It’s weird. I feel very much like I have two lives right now,” Steers said. “I’ll be doing homework all day, and then Saturday I went to Minneapolis for Fashion Fight Night.”

Pearson and a friend posed as designers’ assistants at the event so they could see Steers in action. “It was really exciting,” she said. “It was kind of hard to keep a straight face, but he actually looked like a model. We got to see it’s kind of a grueling process.”

In adjusting to his Superman-like double life, Steers has also been adjusting to his new reputation around campus as “that model kid.” “Maybe I’m reading into it too much,” he said, “but I feel like before, people were more likely to approach me… I think in all of my classes people have slowly vacated the seats around me .”

Even his friends have had some problems adjusting. In February a small group gathered to watch the special casting episode of “Supermodel.” Steers was showing Pearson pictures from the show, when she finally realized the reality of his experience. “I had this huge moment where I was like, ‘I know you, you’re my friend and you’re going to be on TV.

The whole world is possibly going to know you,’” she said.

Global recognition may be a goal for Steers after being on the show. Though he missed fall term, he was recently authorized to graduate this year, and plans to “get the college thing out of the way.” “After graduation I think it’d be pretty fun to try modeling fulltime,” he said. “If someone had told me, ‘You know how you’re going to use your Carleton degree? Full time model,’ I would have laughed.”

It doesn’t seem so strange, though, to those who know Steers—and Carleton—best. “Even if you ignore the reputation Carls have for being homely people, it’s still pretty unique,” Hunter said. “Carleton’s a campus of unique, surprising people, so I think it kind of had to happen that someone went on reality TV.”

It may still surprise Steers that he was the one to do it, but as he puts it, “So far everything has been worth it. I guess I’m one-for-one on impulses.”

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