It’s 8 p.m. in Bangkok, and Dana Slosar ’16 is winding down from a fashion show at the Mandarin Oriental, a 140-year-old luxury hotel along the Chao Phraya River. There to watch her friends model the silk and cotton garments of the Chanel Cruise Collection, she is alongside brand ambassadors Lily-Rose Depp, Tilda Swinton, and Pharrell Williams.
A week earlier, the final episode of Asia’s Next Top Model (ASNTM) hit the airwaves, and audiences around the world saw Slosar crowned winner of the reality modeling competition. In tears, hands over her face, this emotional version of Slosar is the polar opposite of the woman who started the competition as the brazen “cool girl.”
In fact, when producers contacted Slosar about the show, she turned them down in fear of having her life displayed so openly. In the initial interviews, they talked to her about the reality TV aspect, and “I got a sense of how intense it would be,” she says.
A few weeks later, convinced by a friend who would also star on the show (Pim Bubear, also from Thailand), Slosar decided to move forward with ASNTM. But nerves held her back from winning challenges and getting ahead of the other models. “Some of us were trying to act like it wasn’t too big a deal, and I wasn’t really trying,” she says.
It wasn’t until she was almost eliminated, coupled with an ultimatum from the judges, that she decided to take another approach. “After that, I realized I would rather go home after giving it my all than to hold back and go home.”
As she progressed in the show, Slosar garnered increasing enthusiasm from the judges when she allowed more of her personality to show through in shoots that included posing with a python and hanging by a wire atop a speeding car.
But as she got closer to the finish line, Slosar got further away from an integral part of her life — her family. For nine weeks, she had no contact from the other Slosars.
Born to an American father and Thai mother, Slosar grew up in Hong Kong where her dad worked in the business industry. She moved to Bangkok to pursue modeling after graduating from Colgate as a German major.
For the last challenge, contestants were surprised by the arrival of family members, who joined the models in a portrait. With her mother, Joy, looking on, Slosar’s effortless pose in a vibrant, polychromatic dress secured her (and Thailand) the top spot.
“[My mom] never thought I’d end up working in Bangkok. For her to see me having Thai friends and living in Thailand is really special for her,” Slosar says.
Slosar herself looks back on the show in awe, dissecting the competition over dinner with her family and dealing with Internet trolls. But even in the wake of the disbelief, she’s grateful for the win.
“Winning was amazing, but even without the title I feel like I learned a lot about what I am capable of,” she says. “The most important thing the show gave me is the confidence to continue pursuing the things I am passionate about.”
Slosar won a Subaru XV, a contract with Storm Model Management, a fashion spread in Harper’s Bazaar Thailand, a Subaru ambassadorship, and an avatar in the show’s new mobile game.