Two UCF students received their chance to shine and walked away with a Hard Rock modeling campaign Friday after winning the company's "Own It Rock It" model-search competition.
The competition was a collaboration with CAB that allowed students the chance to compete for the crown. The Hard Rock marketing team originally came to the Student Union in September and recruited students to design their own Hard Rock Live classic T-shirts.
"Our headquarters is here, and UCF is the second-largest school in the country so it seemed like a very good sampling of people," Hard Rock International marketing intern Carolina Gonzalez-Llanos said. "I think the main reason [for choosing UCF students] was the proximity.
The 30 men and 30 women with the most liked photos on Facebook from the preliminary search moved on to Friday's live walk-off round at the Hard Rock Live venue at CityWalk, where they would compete for the grand prizes: a $2,500 scholarship, an all-expense paid trip for the winner and a guest to Riviera Maya, Mexico to walk the runway in Hard Rock International's annual Global Conference Fashion Show, and a modeling campaign with Hard Rock for 2015.
The first round kicked off at 9 p.m., with the men competing against men and the women competing against women in a head-to-head walk-off. One pair of contestants at a time took the stage, and the person in each pair who received the most audience support moved on to the second round.
The second round brought back the remaining contestants and each returned to the runway individually. The judging panel based its criteria on four things: personality, style, runway walk and audience support.
Judges said that they were also looking for "Hard Rock style," asking participants to demonstrate "what it means to be a rocker coming down the runway."
Ultimately, sophomore health sciences major Emily Barrios was victorious in the women's group, and freshman business administration major Jarred Stiltner earned the crown in the men's group.
Both winners said that entering the contest was originally purely coincidental.
"I was on my way to my class and I was meeting a couple friends at the Student Union to walk to class with them and I just happened to find the tent, so I was kind of just like, 'Oh cool, free T-shirts!' And I started talking to people and they said 'No, it's a contest! You can win a scholarship!'" and they gave me the details after that," Stiltner said.
Barrios and Stiltner's strategies for success included utilizing social media to get as many likes as possible.
Stiltner said his parents and girlfriend were a big help in getting the word out. His girlfriend, Anna Faith, is the lookalike of Elsa from the movie "Frozen," and he said the fact that she shared it with her fan base made a difference, as well.
Among Barrios and Stiltner's favorite aspects of the competition were the overall experience and the unity among the contestants.
"No one was trying to sabotage anyone. Even though we don't know each other, we could still connect and we were all in that same boat," Barrios said.
But both acknowledged that they could not have been victorious without the help of friends and family.
"[I'd like to say] thanks to Hard Rock for the opportunity to do this in the first place, and the judges for being able to bond with me to push me through," Stiltner said. "[Also] thank you to all my supporters; my parents, my friends and God, of course."
Barrios said she owes it all to her friends, who were her rocks throughout the competition.
"I feel like my friends won it for me, because they were out there cheering me on, and I'm blessed that I get to have such amazing friends and family who support and love me," Barrios said.
This is the first year Hard Rock has hosted a model search, Gonzalez-Llanos said, but already some contestants have asked if they can compete again next year. However, whether or not the model search will become an annual event is not set in stone.
"We just have to work it all out and see how everything budgeted out, and how it was received from the UCF and Hard Rock communities," Gonzalez-Llanos said. "I already have some really great ideas for if we do it next year. We'll see."