Love or hate Reality TV, either way there’s no denying that it discovers talent. Music, comedy, and a vast array of other forms of entertainment have benefited from the programs which present a competition and allow the audience to witness a glimpse into the real lives of contestants. International model Alana Tapigliani got her start in the celebrated television production Menina Fantastica. While the model has numerous credits to her career these days, she was a shy seventeen-year-old girl when her brother insisted that she try out for the show because he was sure she would win. Alana auditioned with trepidation and was surprised when she was accepted on the spot for the show. Menina Fantastica most closely resembles America’s Next Top Model in the US as a competition that searches for up and coming modeling talent. Only five girls were chosen out of the almost seven thousand vying for a spot on the show. Tapigliani notes that she never expected to win (she eventually took second place) but thought it would be a great experience for the to remember. In hindsight, she credits Menina Fantastica with teaching her what it really means to be a model and giving her the foundation to start what has become a very successful international modeling career.
In many ways, Alana had no idea what to expect from the experience. She appeared on the first season of Menina Fantastica so there was no template in regards to what she would experience. With the understanding that it would only be three weeks of competition and the understanding that the she would be ubiquitous in Brazil, it seemed like an adventure for a young person to take advantage of because it was offered. While the world could watch her, Alana and all of the contestants were cut off from outside influences: no TV, phone, unchaperoned excursions into the outside world, etc.
A key component of the competition in the show were the “shooting challenges” in which these new models got to experience what a real model does in their daily work. As a complete beginner, Tapigliani admits that her idea of what it would be like was drastically different from reality. She reveals, “There was a lot of learning and a lot of feeling uncomfortable in the beginning. There’s a learning curve to displaying the right personality for the shoot and that’s not an intuitive thing for most people. There were a number of different shooting challenges for the show and the judges were not just watching your work but also how you handled yourself during the shoot and outside of it. In the first photo shoot I was wearing fruit on my head and beautiful dresses…kind of like Carmen Miranda. I was feeling very stupid, standing there with that fruit on my head but I had the wherewithal to realize that I needed to convince myself that I felt pretty so this emotion would transfer to the camera. If I hadn’t done that I’m sure I would have been eliminated from the show. It’s very important to put on a good face and attitude, especially when you’re not comfortable. This is much easier said than done when you’re feeling stupid…nobody wants to feel that way and still smile. The second shot was in this big fridge while wearing a bikini. I was freezing in that two little piece! Whenever we got a break for a minute I’d jump to the heat. It seemed like they just wanted to torture us but I can tell you now that this is simply part of being a model.” The third shoot was walking for well-known stylist Alexandre Herchcovitch.
Her time on the show not only marked the time that began her modeling career but also the transitioning from teen years into the beginning of adulthood. That’s a precarious enough evolution for anyone to make but doing so in front of cameras 24/7, personal and professional life…it’s daunting for even the most secure individuals. Alana insists that what stands out in her memory is not a sense of competition but rather one of comradery. She recalls, “Nobody wants an uncomfortable or tense work environment. The presumption that there is a prevalent diva attitude is not true. When you spend that much time with other people, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get along and I think we all knew that. Yes, we understood that there was a competition going on but not being supportive of each other would it make it rough on all of us. The uncomfortable part was the lack of privacy. It wasn’t the cameras during the shoot that made everyone nervous, it was the ones that were watching us the rest of the day. Ha. But I learned a great deal from the experience and the other models and the judges really helped me to grow, which has paid off in subsequent experiences.”
Menina Fantastica displays Tapigliani’s early natural inclinations that have served her well throughout her career. The positive demeanor she is known for is apparent while taking part in a photo shoot, fashion show, or simply hanging out with the other contestants. She concedes that it is a natural state for her and it was especially easy for her to remain positive on the show as she never expected to be cast in the first place. Alana may have placed second in the competition but her credits which include Madwalk and work on campaigns for prominent brands like Patricia Bonaldi, Korres, Valisere, and numerous others have vetted her as a modeling phenomenon. She is increasingly present on the world stage and has her eyes set on some of the biggest names in fashion. For this unassuming yet lofty dreaming woman, the present and the future are Fantastic.