The walk, the look, the appeal — Mike Ruiz knows what a girl needs to be a top model. But what he’s looking for goes beyond classic beauty.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things, most of which is innate. It’s nothing you can really put your finger on. And because she is going to become a spokesperson for the Top Model brand, and also for Canada, we also needed a very smart, articulate, funny person,” he said.
Ruiz is the latest addition to the panel of judges on Canada’s Next Top Model, which premieres its third season Tuesday on CTV.
He joins host and America’s Next Top Model regular Jay Manuel, fashion journalist Jeanne Beker and supermodel Yasmin Warsame, who will decide which of 11 model hopefuls will take the CNTM crown and a $100,000 beauty contract, based on a series of weekly challenges.
Spotting top models is nothing new for Ruiz. Once a model himself, the Montréal native and celebrity photographer has shot girls and sat alongside Tyra Banks, playing guest judge on previous seasons of ANTM.
And while Ruiz considered Canadian women considerably more reserved than their American counterparts before joining the domestic jury, he said this time around, things are going to change.
“This season, it gets a little dramatic … let’s just put it that way,” he said. “The energy level is definitely amped up and definitely comparable.”
Heightened energy equals heightened emotion for Ruiz, who never expected to form strong attachments to the contestants. He’d seen judges get teary-eyed on ANTM and always thought, “What’s the big deal?”
“I didn’t expect to be a blubbering little girl on air!” he said with a laugh. “By two or three judgings in, I was so heavily invested in all the girls that it just became so difficult. I shed more than one tear on camera, sending girls home.”
And when it would come down to the wire and judges had to decide between two considerably equal women, Ruiz said his mind was made up in the first few seconds about which one would be able to pull through.
“If somebody is really charismatic and they understand what it is they’re doing, they can be a good runway model and a good couture model and a good commercial model. It’s all personality with me.”