Robert Verdi Knows the Look
BY Harrison Pierce
June 08 2009 12:00 AM ET
Robert Verdi is a man who wears many hats. Actually, make those sunglasses, since the famed style maven's signature look is a pair of fabulous shades perched atop his famous smooth dome. Anyway, when Verdi's not busy quipping fashion on the red carpet, hawking his jewelry line on the QVC or stylizing the lives of stars like Eva Longoria, Hugh Jackman and Mariska Hargitay, he also serves as celebrity judge on TV Land's original modeling competition series She's Got the Look , which kickstarts its second season June 11.
In case you missed season one, She's Got the Look is a modeling show with a twist; the twist being that its contestants are over the age of -- gasp -- 35. It's a welcome change of pace for a reality television subgenre oversaturated with embryonic young women with little to no body fat, let alone life experience. According to Verdi, the contestants on The Look are more substantive and textured than their younger counterparts -- the higher personal and professional stakes they've invested in the competition definitely makes for more moving, riveting and, of course, divalicious, viewing.
The Advocate recently caught up with Verdi to gossip about judging (and not judging) the ladies of She's Got The Look , acting opposite La Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and staying stylish during the big, bad recession.
Advocate.com:Robert, what distinguishes TV Land's She's Got the Look from the other I-wanna-be-a-model television shows?Robert Verdi: The biggest distinction is that the show invites women over the age of 35 to actually pursue a dream that many of them felt was lost many years ago. We actually had an enormous turnout at the open calls when we were scouting for contestants. We found that the [potential contestants] had developed lives that were substantive and textured. Many of them had a family or a spouse or they were divorced and they'd had several incarnations in terms of their careers -- so they just have a lot more substance then a very young girl who wants to pursue a career as a model.
Are the contestants better behaved because they're older or do they get Top Model crazy too?They're not better behaved, they just handle things differently. You don't see a lot of catfights -- there are not a lot of physical assaults on anybody. There's definitely a more adult approach to how issues and disagreements are settled and how people who don't necessarily like, respect or respond to each other, handle the interaction and living together.
How do you feel about contestants who come in all botoxed and plastic surgerized?Well, I don't think that's such a terrible thing. We're not the Miss America pageant. I mean, we're not looking for somebody who's untouched or untainted. I think women who are level headed and well adjusted can make small changes and minor adjustments and know that it helps them feel a little bit better and that it doesn't really detract from who they are. We're not just a beauty contest. It's bigger than that. It's about a personality, it's about being hard working, and it's about thriving through the challenges that life presents you. Those things are the real basis of the competition.
In these modeling reality shows, there's this underlying message that, in order to make it, you need to be more than just a pretty face. Is that really true of the industry -- or just something that keeps these reality shows more interesting?Yes, they really want more in the real modeling industry. It is necessary that the women have more than just a pretty face and that she has personality and can relate to people and can connect with a photographer and an art director and a stylist and the agents. That's usually something that somebody who lacks personality wouldn't be capable of doing. Personality is definitely a key factor.