Photos by Cru Camara
Achieving your goal can happen in two ways: you can open your journal and plan it step-by-step or you can just take a chance and let yourself get caught up in the flurry of the hustle. Gelai Penales and Angelia Orna, the two winners of this year’s SM Youth Go See competition, are proof that the second approach totally works, too.
Both had very little prior experience in modeling, but Angelia already had her eyes on the prize. “Growing up, I’d always been a fan of America’s Next Top Model,” says Angelia. “I had dreams of being a model but I of course had doubts since my (body) build and my looks didn’t necessarily fit the usual standards. Instead of letting that stop her, she transformed it into a sense of purpose — to inspire other aspiring models who might not look like the usual model type.”
Gelai joined the competition as a sort of challenge. “I wanted to see if I could excel in something, like modeling, that I had very little experience in,” she says. Despite being a private person, she was able to take the challenges head-on and even finished the competition at the top.
We got to talk to the duo about their journey in the competition and what they plan to do with the new platform that they’ve worked for.
YOUNG STAR: What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
ANGELIA ORNA: I love how I’ve been raised to be hardworking, resilient and perseverant. I know that when I do something I’m passionate about, I always give my all, no matter what it takes. And I guess that’s my favorite thing about myself. I know nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams.
GELAI PENALES: My favorite thing about what I do is continuously learning from everyone I meet and get to work with. This whole thing is completely new and something that I never thought I would be a part of. It’s good that I’m surrounded and guided by people I trust and I know have good influence on me.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in the competition?
Angela: No matter how different you are from the norm, as long as you are yourself and believe in who you are and what you can give, you will go places.
Gelai: The mind is a powerful thing. There were challenges that I was too scared to take on even before it started and it’s usually those challenges that I didn’t do so well in. On the other hand, there were nights where I pep-talked myself and told myself to toughen up and do better. Surprisingly, those were the challenges that I actually did well in. When I learned to face everything head-on and mute the thoughts that often pulled me down, I felt somewhat unstoppable.
“I wanted to see if I could excel in something, like modeling, that I have very little experience in,” says Gelai Penales.
How do you plan on using your newfound platform?
Angela: I have always believed that SM Youth is one of the best platforms to inspire many people. I guess just being myself and portraying how I was raised is one of the biggest influences I can give to the youth. I am fervent that the youth should still embody values: I want to help them remember that this may be a tough world, but having a kind heart doesn’t hurt.
Gelai: An advocacy I’m trying to instill is to live one’s truth as boldly as possible. Being a part of the LGBTQ community and striving to succeed in an industry where beauty has specific standards, I plan on using my platform on social media to inspire others to express themselves, no matter how unconventional or even confusing they may be to some.
“Being a role model of the youth is a continuous journey, even after the competition is over,” says Angelia Orna.
What’s next for you?
Angela: Being a role model of the youth is a continuous journey even after the competition is over. I also believe that I still have a lot to improve on and I’ll focus on bettering myself every day. Right now, I am also venturing on the road to entering show business. I’ve been showered by God with the gift of singing, dancing and acting and I have always told myself that these talents were given to me by Him for a reason. Sharing it with others is what I believe He also wants me to do.
Gelai: To be honest, I don’t know what’s next for me! The past few months have been all sorts of arbitrary thanks to the SM Youth Go See, so I honestly can’t wait to see how much more I can uncover and learn about myself. For now, I just want to put my platform as one of the new ambassadors of SM Youth to the greatest use by inspiring those who, like me, were lost and hopefully grow more with everyone that I meet.
Follow @gelaipenales, @angeliaj_ and @smyouth on Instagram for updates.
Photos by CRU CAMARA
Produced and styled by NEAL P. CORPUS
Make-up by SYLVINA LOPEZ
Photographer assisted by TELLE RAMOS
Special thanks to NIKO PEDRO
Clothes from SM YOUTH