After the win, what's next? We catch up with Naomi Huth and Abduaziz Mirzayokub
First impressions first: Eighteen-year-old Naomi is confident and articulate, all sunshine and smiles. On the other hand, Abduaziz (“You can call me anything – Abdu and AB are all okay”) comes across as a slightly awkward, gangly teenager who’s trying not to trouble anyone, despite being 24 and possibly the more experienced model between them.
Start clicking, however, and it’s immediately clear how these two got to the top. Naomi starts to sizzle with every pose, while Abdu is all dark curls, chiselled cheekbones and intense, smouldering gaze – definitely deserving of a place in one of those high-end menswear catalogues.
Why Project M
Hailing from Uzbekistan, Abdu is currently pursuing a marketing degree. Asked why he joined the competition, the former freelance model says: “I wanted to try my luck and also use it as a platform to improve in areas where I’m weak.”
The eldest daughter of a German father and Singaporean Chinese mother, Naomi saw Project M as a chance to meet new, like-minded people. “The description of the contest really captured my attention. When I found out about it, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to try out for and it really was a life-changing experience.”
“I always win,” is Abdu’s simple answer. He’s quick to clarify that he doesn’t mean that in a bragging sort of way: “I work for it, you know? Things don’t just happen, you’ve got to work for it.”
But modelling isn’t where he’s set his sights in the long term. “Of course I’m happy to win. My parents know that I won and that my pictures are up in the mall, and so on. But that’s not what I want them to be proud of me for. They should be proud of me for doing well in my studies and career – something I’ve worked hard for. I don’t think achieving something based on what’s just given to you, like your looks, is something to be proud of.”
Instead, he’s keen to take what he’s learnt in Singapore, gain experience in the marketing industry and eventually go on to contribute to the industry at home.
Naomi is no stranger to competitions. With 12 years of competitive swimming experience under her belt, she readily admits to aspiring to become an Olympic swimmer at one point.
She’s also emerged as a finalist in The New Paper’s New Face competition in 2017, which she joined together with her younger sister Noelle.
Her favourite memory of the competition? Meeting all the other finalists, “because each of them carries a special story and made the journey fun and memorable”.
Having already released two songs that she co-wrote and voiced in collaboration with local DJs Inquisitive and Myrne, Naomi is currently taking a gap year to pursue her interests in modelling, hosting, acting and singing. Having just graduated from the German International School in June, this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
While she has held off on signing with any agencies so far, she shares that “Project M has opened many new doors with regards to my modelling career.” What she really wants to do for now, though, is pursue internships and travel.
“My dream is to do modelling while travelling. I would love to see many other countries and meet many new people from all over the world. I’m an adventurer.”
She has this to say to other aspiring models: “Enjoy the journey to its full extent by being open and positive. It’s an amazing experience and I would definitely recommend other models to join.”
For Abdu, however, the end of June marked the start of a new school term. He’s looking forward to his August term break, when he’ll visit his parents in Uzbekistan. His eyes visibly soften when he talks about them. “We’re very close. We talk every day. They haven’t been to Singapore yet. I promised myself that I’ll bring them here for a holiday when I get my first pay cheque.”
In the meantime, he’s signed a contract with Now Model Management, and is looking to grow with the agency. His advice for next year’s Project M hopefuls: “Believe in and be yourself, always be positive – this is a big journey that will change your life.”
We’re guessing it won’t be long before we get to see more of these two faces on billboards and screens, so watch out for these rising stars!