New Face 2013 winner aims to get signed by a NY modelling agency

Even her grandmother, Madam Sylvia Koh, 60, was stunned when Noelle Woon's name was called out, crowning her The New Paper New Face 2013.

"It's not that she didn't deserve to win, but it was such stiff competition," said Madam Koh.

Grandma was all smiles when we approached her after Noelle's win. She told TNPS proudly: "She did what she set out to do."

After the unexpected win, Noelle's party settled at a cafe for celebratory drinks. Her classmates from CHIJ St Theresa's Convent joined the family for a quick bite.

Deenisha Lin Chien, 16, declared proudly of her friend: "She deserves it."

Her friends see Noelle, a 1.77m-tall beauty with African- Chinese heritage, as outgoing and very down-to-earth.

They cooed over how she had strutted down the catwalk, especially since Noelle was, according to them, rather accident-prone.

And now Noelle may well be on her way to becoming a full-fledged model - she wants to try for a modelling agency in New York after her O Levels.

When asked how she would celebrate her win, Noelle, who was happily tucking into bread and butter pudding with her friends, declared gleefully that she would be treating herself to an entire tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Noelle's mum, Madam Sarah Woon, 37, said she couldn't recall what happened when Noelle's name was called out as she was screaming for joy.

But over drinks, she was glowing with pride as she heaped praises on her daughter.

Earlier that day, Noelle had called her up in tears because the stylists wanted her to keep her afro hairstyle for the competition, said Madam Woon.

"She's always had it in cornrows and then up in a ponytail wherever she goes," she explained. "She would never go out with her afro."

But the overall effect was amazing at the finals. "Growing up, her hair (and being different) was very hard for her to accept so I'm glad that it all worked to her advantage. I'm very proud of her for embracing it."

Her hair was her crowning glory as she did her three catwalks, decked out in fancy and colourful clothes sponsored by Levi's, New Look and several other Asian brands. She had a hint of a smile playing on her lips and kept her cool despite the more-than-700-strong crowd intently watching her every move.

Madam Woon described seeing her daughter up on stage as "mind-blowing".

Now, it's back to reality for Noelle as she is takes her NLevel examinations, which started last month.

Her next paper is tomorrow and it's science, her favourite subject.

One would think that it would have been tough juggling the competition and her studies, but it wasn't a problem for her as the rehearsals were in the evening, leaving her plenty of time to get her work done beforehand.

Despite that, she's still relieved that it's all over.

"I can fully focus on my studies (now that the competition is over)," she said.

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