updated 18 Oct 2010, 06:14
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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
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Facing her popularity
by Sheela Narayanan

WHEN you get 49.1 per cent of 42,000 readers' votes in a beauty contest, you can be excused if you expect to be among the top three when the judges announce the results.

Rachel Erasmus didn't have that problem. The beauty who is of Indian-Maldivian descent - her father is from Rajasthan - claims she didn't get her hopes up even after being voted Miss Popularity at The New Paper New Face contest. So, she wasn't too upset when Vivien Ong was named the winner, Nada Khalid the first runner-up and Rachel Mak the second runner-up.

In fact, Rachel claims she's still in shock a week after the competition.

"People keep coming up to me to congratulate me and, to be honest, at the time I thought I would only come in third in the votes," says the 20-year-old MDIS mass communication student who canvassed for votes only through her Facebook account, where she has 400 friends.

Rachel, the second of three sisters in her family, has lived and studied in India, the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives. She and her family moved to Singapore seven years ago and these days the permanent resident picks mee rebus as her favourite food and can hold her own in Singlish.

She and her older sister Ayesha are members of local bhangra troupe Tez Dhaar and she performs with them regularly.

Now that she's found some fame and fortune - she won $2,000 in prize money in this contest and plans to use part of it to pay her family's handphone bills as a way of saying thank you to them and keep the rest for her trip to Oklahoma City University next year where she will finish her degree - Rachel is hoping to get into modelling full time.

"I've always wanted to get into the business but didn't know how to go about doing it. I am working on getting more jobs in this line," she says.

The other two contestants with Indian blood in this year's New Face competition - Danielle Menon and Noor Kamilah - didn't win any prizes, although the former was one of six New Face girls picked to walk the ramp at the Takashimaya fashion show held on Oct 11.

Danielle, whose father is Malayalee and mother is of Filipino-Spanish descent, admits she was disappointed that she didn't win any titles but the 21-year-old student hopes to translate the exposure she received from the contest into more modelling jobs.

Noor, on the other hand, had a very zen attitude to the contest, preferring to "go with the flow". "This is my first contest, so I was not sure what to expect, so I just wanted to go with the flow. I think my friends were more upset than me," admits the fashion design student from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

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