It was around 8 in the morning, and from the veranda where we were settling in and setting up the lights and the cameras, you’d think a huge storm is on its way what with the heavy clouds and loud raindrops pounding the entryway. But Adela Mae Marshall didn’t seem to mind the gloomy weather. Not at all. Clad in a green lace dress with a pink jacket and a red newsboy cap in tow, she looked at the photographer and gamely asked: “Where should I stay?”
The first fifteen minutes of the shoot went by smoothly, and already the entire team can tell how fun and easy the Friday shoot will be, and how Adela is not your stereotypical high-maintenance model. After all, Adela is not your typical model. For starters, she didn’t plan on becoming one. “A lot of girls probably go through that thing where they would see Victoria’s Secret and think [how] it would be so cool to be a model, but not me,” Adela shared. “I was scouted in England when I was fifteen years old and it’s just not what I wanted to do. I am very self-conscious and very shy,” she added.
After x number of outfit changes, we found ourselves in a cozy room, and before we got to talking, Adela couldn’t stop her smiles, thanking the entire team, and gushing about her excitement. She is, after all, the newest ForMe Girl. Adela didn’t have a cliché modeling backstory, it was simple: “When I moved to the Philippines, we met up with my mom’s old agent and she casually told me ‘Oh, I have a casting, do you want to go?’ and because I had no friends, I thought that if I went to a casting at least I’d meet people, and even if I didn’t book the job, it’ll be a great way to make some new friends,” Adela revealed with a laugh. But she did get the job and everything picked up from there.
Adela joined Philippines’ Next Top Model back in 2017 and came in second. “I felt like [the competition] will be the thing that changes my career, but it didn’t. Even though I felt like I did well, coming in second,” Adela said. So when Adela’s agent opened the conversation about Asia’s Next Top Model, “I was hesitant at first because it’s obviously bigger and harder than Philippines’ Next Top Model. [Plus,] with all the girls [coming] from different countries,” Adela said. “But I thought that it would be a shame not to try out even if I don’t win. I [didn’t] want to look back and be like ‘Oh, what if I gave it a shot?’ at least I tried.”
Joining an international competition means more challenges—from hard ones to downright terrifying ones. “Week 1,” Adela exclaimed. “On the very first week, we were asked to pose with reptiles and I got an iguana. My biggest fear is lizards [and] I told them I don’t like lizards, even little geckos,” Adela shared. “I was so terrified the entire time and they were telling me that I was shaking when the iguana crawled down the side of my neck and its tail hit my eye. [The crew] were telling me to use the pain to make my photo beautiful, which I tried to do while tears were streaming down my eyes.” Her most professional moment to date, Adela claimed.
Today, Adela is a top model on the rise, but to her, finding one’s center is the secret to acing this industry. “When I joined Asia’s Next Top Model, I prepared myself for the worst. Having watched previous cycles of the show I was prepared for the catfights and the drama,” she revealed. “I [was there] to compete, but it didn’t mean that I [had] to be rude to other people. I ended up meeting two of my closest friends there, and we still talk now—we have a group chat.”
With Taylor Swift’s 1989 era revolutionizing the idea of a girl squad, Adela debunks the rivalry myth between and among models. “A lot of people think that there is so much rivalry in this industry and that a lot of people are catty to each other. That’s definitely what I thought when I first started modelling,” she said. “I can’t speak for everyone, but for the most part, I made a lot of my closest friends in this industry. It’s not always about tearing each other down to be successful. I’ve met a lot of models who try to cheer each other on and who are really happy for each others’ successes.”
“That’s one of the most exciting things about being the new ForMe Girl—it’s all about girls supporting girls, girls lifting each other,” Adela said with her eyes lighting up. “Women need to empower other women, and hopefully, they see me, Maureen, and Mari supporting each other and just being positive role models together.” We can’t help but agree—Mari, Maureen, and Adela together? Now, that’s a powerhouse.