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Rebecca Hardy

July, 2007

Modelresource: "Are you getting recognized on the street?"

Rebecca Hardy: Whuh!! (pauses, rolls her eyes) Everywhere I go I'm getting recognized! It's pretty wild! Even driving my car in downtown Toronto - driving my crappy Sunfire - people come up to my window and say 'Congratulations!' The amount of people that know me is unreal! Everyone is congratulating me. People say I was their pick all the way through, 'You won me 50 dollars in a pool at work...'
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Rebecca Hardy
Rebecca Hardy - Photo: David Hou
Hair & Makeup: Jodi Grossman (Judy Inc), Styling: Gemma Capone (Judy Inc)

I met Canada's Next Top Model at the studio of Toronto photographer David Hou, just days after she was announced as the winner of the popular reality show. Apparently she was already used to privacy being a thing of the past; when I inadvertently walked in on her changing she didn't even look up - the 22-year-old just casually went about getting dressed. Such is life after what CNTM's website calls "the watchful eye of surveillance cameras that chronicle every move."

Two hours of styling, hair & makeup, and one quick interview later, and I was off to the beach to get a sense of how popular this girl really is.

My first sand-between-the-toes stop was to ask a lifeguard if she had seen a photoshoot nearby, featuring Canada's Next Top Model. "She's here?" the lifeguard asked, assuring me she wasn't nearly as laid back as she appeared under her sunglasses. "I can't believe she's here! Can you ask her to do it closer to my station?" Uh, yeah, I'm sure that's no problem.
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Rebecca Hardy
Rebecca Hardy - Photo: David Hou
Hair & Makeup: Jodi Grossman (Judy Inc), Styling: Gemma Capone (Judy Inc)

When I did find the location, of course there were gawkers - there would be for any July photoshoot on a popular beach. But unlike the gaping mass that normally finds such spectacles so compelling, this assembly was clearly conscious of 'who' was being shot. While I held up an umbrella for Hardy to dress behind, one of her legion of new admirers sauntered over, starstruck, asking to get a photo taken with herself and her daughter. Before they left another pair had appeared, asking if they too could get a picture.

After the show wrapped in March, Hardy had three-and-a-half months to get accustomed to the idea of being Canada's Next Top Model, before it was finally made public. In the intervening period she went back to the much celebrated meat factory in her hometown of Mannheim, Ontario - back to working nights, never allowed to reveal her fate.
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Rebecca Hardy
Rebecca Hardy - Photo: David Hou
Hair & Makeup: Jodi Grossman (Judy Inc), Styling: Gemma Capone (Judy Inc)

The time between was probably a good thing, as it gave her a chance to reflect, observe, and prepare. During our interview she was very humble and very engaged, although some of the statements seemed... well... a bit rehearsed ("I just want people to know I'm a regular person... and I'm really excited to be in this position. It's an honour to be Canada's Next Top Model").

But considering some of the unflattering utterances attributed to Season One winner Andrea Muizelaar, it's understandable that this season's winner would be a bit guarded. Hardy acknowledges there was a credibility issue with the Next Top Model machine, and nobody involved with this season wants to see her career end the way Muizelaar's did.

Unlike several Season One contestants I've spoken with (Muizelaar included) - Hardy says she is satisfied with how she appeared on the show. "I think the show accurately portrayed pretty much everybody. Obviously it's television, so they may have heightened some things to make it a little different, but I don't think it was too far off."
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Rebecca Hardy
Rebecca Hardy - Photo: David Hou
Hair & Makeup: Jodi Grossman (Judy Inc), Styling: Gemma Capone (Judy Inc)

With the reality show behind her, she now gets to experience the real reality. Seasoned agents - not editors - will guide her career. No more cryptic Jay Mail, no more shooting 50 frames and hoping one good shot will keep her from elimination. "Now with photoshoots you have time," she says, with a tone that suggests the industry makes more sense now. "You can look at the computer screen and say 'I need to work on that.'"

No more model home either. Hardy is back at her real home, 45 minutes west of Toronto, and commuting. Her days of slabbing animal carcasses are also done, allowing her more flexibility to be on set, or at the beach, as needed.

After holding the umbrella one last time for Canada's Next Top Model - this time was trickier as the 5'11" mannequin had to pull on tights - I pointed myself to a pub near her new agency, Sutherland Models, to start typing. There's a hotdog stand nearby, which seemed an opportune place to once again test the notoriety of the former meat factory worker. The vendor was grilling a veggie dog when I showed him an image on my camera. "You were with Canada's Next Top Model? You must have the best job in the world!" I assured him I do. "Tell her Sam says hi!"