Next Top Model May Hail From Skokie
Juni Park is among the 5 finalists in the Mario, Make Me a Model competition.
Skokie resident Juni Park has always wanted to be a model. Now she’s getting the training and competition skills to do it.
Park, 20, is one of the five finalists in the Mario, Make Me a Model competition. She was among 500 people who attended the July open calls held at Westfield Old Orchard Mall and three other Chicago-area Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa locations.
Since then, Park has successfully navigated through two selection processes. She was one of 38 semifinalists and then made it to the final five after another round of judging on Aug. 2.
“I didn’t know about it until I went to the mall,” Park said about the competition. “I saw the poster, and I decided to audition.”
The winner will receive a trip to Cancun, Mexico, along with a year’s supply of Vitamin Water, a one-year Fitness Formula Clubs membership and $500 in cosmetics. All the finalists are currently undergoing 10 weeks of personal training at the fitness clubs and runway instruction from Factor Women.
The hard work is leading them up to an appearance in a Fashion Focus Chicago runway show on Oct. 19 at downtown's Millennium Park.
“We’re trying to get them a little more comfortable with their walk and educate them a little about the industry, what they might be running into down the line, what happens after the contest is over,” said Factor Women marketing director Kasia Koniar. “It’s pretty intensive.”
Park visited Fitness Formula Clubs for the first time last week.
“I’ve never seen as many machines before,” she said. “It was amazing.”
She also received a lesson in how to walk like a model from Factor Women.
“It was harder than I expected, but I’m going to try my best to learn,” said the competition finalist.
A first-generation Korean-America, Park immigrated to the U.S. six years ago and attended Old Orchard Junior High and Niles North High School. Now a sophomore at Oakton Community College, she plans to major in education and wants to teach kindergarteners.
Park also works at her parents’ restaurant, Bap & Grill, in Morton Grove.
“I wanted to go to New York, but my parents opened the restaurant and needed my help,” she said. “I decided to go to Oakton Community College and transfer after two years.”
One of the criteria that will help decide the winner is online voting at mariomakemeamodel.com. Park is currently the leader, with more than 800 votes. The second place contestant, Mount Prospect resident Lynn Tatge, has more than 530 votes.
“My friends, my family, even my family in [South] Korea are all voting,” Park said. “They go every day to vote for me. I feel really proud that there are a lot of people who are supporting me.”
Park’s family wasn’t always in favor of her ambitions. She said her parents didn’t want her modeling, fearing it would be distraction from her studies. But they have changed their minds after seeing their daughter in a short ABC Channel 7 bridal show.
Park said she enjoyed every second of her Mario, Make Me a Model auditions.
“I’m really confident about this competition,” she said. “[The judges] all told me I had personality. It’s really hard for them to find Asians that are this tall and skinny. I’m going to try hard to make that an advantage.”
Park auditioned for Ford Models before she tried out for Make Me a Model contest. She said the agency contacted her Aug. 10 about another photo shoot. It’s more good news for her career but, for now, she’s staying focused on the upcoming competition.
“It’s really hard for a girl like me, or any other model, to get these opportunities,” Park said. “I wanted it, and I got it, so I’m willing to give my all to win this competition.”