The TV Land competition series "She's Got the Look" — in which contestants have to be older than 35 — is built on the idea that the modeling world is starting to pay more attention to mature women.
New celebrity judge Roshumba Williams, 42, and new host Brooke Burke, 38, know from experience that attitudes toward age are changing in the industry. They both started modeling as teens and have continued to work.
"The modeling industry today is about the rebirth of the sophisticated woman," says Williams during an interview on the set of the TV Land series.
Williams says all you have to do is look at films like "Sex and the City," TV shows like "Housewives of ...," or 52-year-old Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman for Cover Girl to see that older women are being celebrated.
Burke says she is a far more confident and happy woman in her 30s than when she was in her 20s.
"We have a lot more to offer as women than young ladies. We know ourselves better in our 30s and on up. I don't think a younger woman has begun to figure out her life even though we think we have it all figured out," Burke says. "Thirty on up is a powerful place to be. I think women grow and continue to get better as long as they embrace that."
That's the golden rule of the reality show. It's designed to discover a beautiful, sophisticated and confident woman over the age of 35 who has the potential to transform herself into a model. The oldest contestant this season is 54.
Views on age may be changing but there's one thing that hasn't: It's still a profession that's viciously judgmental.
Williams, a five-time Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition model, plans to be honest in her judging, but she also wants to help contestants learn to deal with criticism.
"I'm having flashbacks to my days standing there and having all of the eyes in the room tearing me apart, bit by bit, and then being brutally critiqued on what I needed to adjust," Williams says.
Many of the contestants are women who have put their dreams on hold for a long time to raise children, support a husband or deal with a sick parent.
"We're looking for a diamond in the rough who has the raw material to be a model. Most important, they have to have the spirit of today's sophisticated woman," Williams says.
Burke describes the show as "a celebration of timeless beauty."
"Beauty is not about holding on to your 20s. I'm trying to tell the ladies to forget that 20-year-old swimsuit body. Don't even go there," she says. "This isn't about turning back time. It's about knowing who you are, finding things you like about yourself and being comfortable in your skin at any age. I think the show's inspirational to all ages."