So, last season—sorry, cycle—of Canada’s Next Top Model was kinda “meh” compared to the Tyra-shoutin’, model-faintin’, drag-walkin’ original. Host Tricia Helfer seemed to be reprising her other role as a robot Cylon, but one with consistently dwindling batteries, and the season one production values were also a bit low-wattage. The new host CHUM has whisked-in to save the day is ANTM fan favourite and Toronto-bred Jay Manuel, who dashingly wears shirts for promo shots that would normally encourage pointing and giggling from anyone with operational eyeballs. Unless you’re from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
Manuel, better known to Top Model fans as Mr. Jay, was Scarberian-born into Italian and South African heritage, and began his career as a makeup artist and fashion photographer. Growing-up, the Bethune C.I. and York-U alumnus idolized FT‘s Jeanne Beker (now a CNTM judge) and credits her for inspiring him to follow a career in the industry. Whip-smart Manuel seems to be one of the only truly grounded characters on ANTM, calmly dispensing earnest and helpful advice in stereotypically Canadian style, and he’s been able to parlay his popularity into a cosmetics line (Manuel Override) and hosting gigs on Fashion Wrap and Style Her Famous.
Anyway, if you wanna meet Mr. Jay, he’s appearing at the MuchStore tonight at 6 p.m. (277 Queen West) to sign autographs, pose for photos, and tell two girls standing before him that, while one has all the potential in the world but just can’t seem to get a good photo, the other has a great look but the judges aren’t convinced she really wants it. Oh, and they’re also giving away t-shirts to the first fifty fans through the doors, but they’re just the regular cotton promo kind; not the über-fierce Borg sheer that’s le dernier cri among platinum-topped TV hosts these days.
Canada’s Next Top Model begins its new season on Wednesday, May 30, and features models with appropriately fashioney names like Cori, Mika, Sinead, Tia and Mo. We’ll be watching.