Maureen Wroblewitz is in high demand these days. And like any girl with a dream, the 19-year-old has spent her life gearing up for the moment her life changes forever. After more than a two-month run on international TV, the newly crowned Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 5 winner finds herself navigating a life with her newfound fame.
For four seasons, we have watched our Filipina representatives come close to reach the winning title. And now, we can finally call one of our own the next model to rule the world. Call us biased but Filipinas have some of the most beautiful faces in the universe. So it was no surprise that Maureen—who is half German just like Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach—was an early favorite in the competition. With her porcelain skin, piercing eyes, and darling demeanor, she’s certainly not a face you forget. But while there’s no mistaking her beauty, beneath that “pretty” exterior is a charming breath of fresh air. Maureen is genuinely sweet, easy to get along with, and speaks with insatiable energy, even apologizing for “always rambling” from one topic to another. We sit there thinking, “How could anyone hate this girl?” Being the most untrained competitor, the 5’6” model used her shortcomings as a motivation to surpass the level of those who challenged her. And that ambitious mindset was what helped her take the one final spot that won her the much-coveted title, a brand new car, and a modeling contract with Storm Models Management in London.
On set, Maureen confidently struck one pose after the other, mastering the trickiest of silhouettes. It was clearly evident: this girl is a pro. After our quick shoot on a gloomy afternoon, Maureen tells us her journey to Asia’s Next Top Model, how she became the last one standing, and why being inexperienced is actually a good thing.
How does it feel to be the first Filipina to win Asia’s Next Top Model?
It just feels amazing because a Filipina has never won and I not only fulfilled my dreams, I fulfilled the dreams of the Filipino fans out there who have been hoping and praying for a Filipina winner since the start.
When did it finally sink in that you actually won?
It honestly still feels like a dream. I don’t know when I’ll ever actually realize it.
What was going through your mind during your final walk on the runway?
I knew I couldn’t mess it up by tripping or falling because it was the last chance to prove myself. So I tried not to overthink and just did it.
What was the audition process of Asia’s Next Top Model like?
The funny thing is, I never really thought of joining Asia’s Next Top Model. I lived in Germany for six years so I thought of joining Germany’s Next Top Model. But I was never that tall so I decided not to and I kind of gave up on that dream. And then when I was here in the Philippines, my manager asked me about Asia’s Next Top Model. I’ve watched a few episodes but never really thought of joining, and she was like, “Oh do you want to go to the casting?” And then I went to the casting. It was mostly for like casting experience because I never thought they would take me so I didn’t really feel nervous going. I felt really comfortable and I was just myself. I didn’t expect them to like me and when they told me they wanted to see me again, I was really shocked. I couldn’t believe it. So then they asked for my Skype name and all that and I had a few other interviews. Then after a few weeks, I got a confirmation email and I knew I was going to be part of the show. I was freaking out, but not freaking out like being happy. I was freaking out because I was so scared. Growing up, I was really shy. Now, joining a competition with other girls is a really big thing. I was actually thinking of canceling it and all but my dad kept telling me to just do it because I’ve got nothing to lose.
“I was freaking out but not freaking out like being happy. I was freaking out because I was so scared.”
Where were you when you found out?
When I found out that I got accepted, I was in my room lying in bed. I remember just thinking about life. (Laughs) And then I was just checking my emails when I saw an email from the production team. That’s when I started getting nervous. I immediately told my manager and she was so excited. But I was just like, “Oh my God, I don’t know if I want to go.” But I was just thinking of it as getting out of my comfort zone, doing something I wouldn’t have done before, and a way to be more confident.
How did it feel like to be chosen to represent the Philippines?
I’ve always been proud of being a Filipina. I learned it from my mom because she’s always taught us to be proud. Like whenever I would see another Filipina on TV in another country, I would always be like, “Oh my gosh, she’s Filipina!” Growing up, it was always the Filipino side I was proud of because we are known to be very supportive of each other. So it’s such an amazing thing to represent my mom’s nationality.
How did it feel like to live in a house full of strangers?
It was definitely what you’re thinking about but I didn’t expect it to be the way it was. I was scared to be in a house with so many strangers, then it didn’t feel like it because we all became a family. But during the first competition, that’s when all the drama happened. But obviously, families fight and it kind of had that feeling. So it wasn’t actually a bad thing.
Did you ever feel insecure to live with some of the most beautiful girls in Asia?
Oh I already prepared myself before going there. I was like, “I’m going to feel insecure especially because of my height, my age, and my modeling experience.” It was not even them being beautiful, it was mostly about their modeling experience and their height because I was the shortest. That was what made me really insecure. Especially when they were telling me that I’m “just a pretty face.” That was hard because that was something I always wanted to prove wrong.
Was there ever a time you wanted to give up because of the bullying you experienced?
Oh yeah. There were plenty of times I felt like, “Why am I like still here? Just eliminate me.” There were times of frustration but I always thought to myself—especially when I was the last Filipina left, I knew that this was no time for giving up and it was something I always wanted to prove to myself, that I don’t give up and that I am strong and I can fight haters.
What was your biggest motivation?
My biggest motivation was actually the Philippines. A Filipina has never won the competition so that was one of the biggest motivations. But also my mom because she’s always believed in me and I always wanted to prove to everyone and to myself that I am as strong as she was.
What’s the best advice the model mentors and judges gave you?
To always believe in myself because if you don’t believe in yourself and you’re always like, “I can’t do this,” people won’t believe in you. So you really have to believe in yourself for other people to believe in you. You should feel confident. You should love yourself.
“[I got insecure] especially when they were telling me that I’m ‘just a pretty face.’ That was hard because that was something I always wanted to prove wrong.”
What was the biggest challenge you had to go through?
It was definitely my confidence level especially when I was with the other girls. My confidence wasn’t even up there, it was already really low, but it dropped even more. So my biggest challenge was really to not feel intimidated and to just forget about everything.
How did it feel to be the only Filipina left in the competition?
I didn’t expect, like I didn’t even think about it. It was always a maybe, like I could come far but I always expected to be with another Filipinas because there were three of us. But on the third week [of the competition], two already left. On the third episode, I was in the bottom two and I already felt like I couldn’t make it. I had so much pressure because a Filipina has never won and I was the only one left representing the Philippines. So yeah, it was tough.
What do you think got you there?
First of all, it’s my ambition. If there’s something that I want, I really go for it. I’ve also realized that being inexperienced is actually a really good advantage especially in a modeling competition because you have mentors and judges who will always tell you to learn new things and to change things. When you’re inexperienced, you’re just fresh. You don’t know anything so when they tell you to do something, you just do it while learning and accepting their criticisms. If you’re a very experienced model, you’ve already learned so many things and you’ve already done so many shoots so when someone tells you to change something, you’re like, “I’ve been doing this for so long, why should I change it?” It’s a lot harder to change the way you model than to learn and accept everything as you go.
Despite being on reality TV for two months, what’s one thing people still don’t know about you?
I feel like one thing people don’t know about me, something I didn’t get to show that often was that I’m super weird and clumsy. (Laughs) It was hard to show a lot of your personality in the competition because it was more about focusing on other stuff. And it’s forty-five minutes, so you don’t get to show that much of yourself.
If you weren’t a model, what would you be doing?
I actually always liked modeling and acting so I really really really want to start acting as well.
Would you consider joining show business?
Yeah if I have the opportunity, I might do it.
Who are some of the celebrities you would want to work with?
I grew up watching TFC (The Filipino Channel) so some of the good actors I know are John Lloyd Cruz and Kim Chiu. She’s funny, I want to work with her. My favorite love team before was actually Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu. (Laughs) And then Julia Montes because she’s also half German.
What do you think is your best feature?
My eyes. I think that’s the most important thing especially in modeling because there are so many emotions in the eyes. You can be sexy, you can be fierce, you can be sad, you can be mad. Everything is in the eyes.
Would you ever shave your head for modeling?
Well, that’s a hard question. (Laughs) I think Cara Delevingne did. I don’t know, I mean I can get wigs and hair grows back so maybe.
Who are some of the models you look up to?
I really look up to Cara Delevingne because I love that she doesn’t care what people think about her and what she does. She’s just being herself and like, her crazy style—she doesn’t feel ashamed about it. It’s so hard, especially in this society, to be yourself. It’s like you always want to look a certain way or be a certain way. She’s just doing what she wants to do and I want to be like her.
What’s your favorite decade to look at for beauty inspiration?
I think the ‘70s but it’s something I wouldn’t go out wearing. I really liked the ‘50s because it was all about winged eyeliners, red lips, and retro looks. That’s the kind of look that I like even though I don’t wear it. (Laughs)
What beauty products did you bring with you to Asia’s Next Top Model?
I brought my whole makeup kit. (Laughs) I really love makeup but I only brought items for an everyday look so no crazy eye shadows or things I don’t really wear. So it was just for one look and I kept that look from episode one to the last.
What five products do you use over and over again?
My eyebrow products, bronzer, which I also use as my eyeshadow, blush, mascara, and a nude lipstick.
What’s a makeup tip you can share with our readers?
You should always set your makeup before using dry products especially with foundation. If you use liquid foundation, you should always set it with powder before you apply bronzer or blush so it doesn’t look cake-y.
“I’m looking forward to living my dream, to really do what I love to do and always waited to do.”
What are five things you always wear when you’re off-duty?
Everyone knows this but I love crop tops and I only wear high-waisted or mid-waist jeans. I love oversized T-shirts and oversized jackets. For shoes, I just like going out in sneakers.
What do you do to stay in shape?
I try my best to work out and I always do this in the morning after I wake up. I try to eat clean even though I can’t. (Laugh) I actually have a gym at home so I would just work out in the house and lift weights, do push ups, and do ab workouts I learned from the internet. Then I skip rope also, do squats, and all that. It’s always just a 45-minute workout.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I’m looking forward to really living my dream, to really do what I love to do and always waited to do. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of my supporters and to hopefully travel outside of the Philippines.