Hello Miami! was the theme of the weekend as the Modeling Association of America International descended upon the Trump International Resort and Spa to celebrate the 59th M.A.A.I. Modeling and Talent Convention, bringing national and international agents, scouts, and entertainment managers together in search for the next big stars of the silver screen and stage. Competing would be actors, singers, dancers, and instrumental performers, all hoping to catch the eye and interest of those who could help make their dreams possible.
Following registration, the contestants and their families, along with the aforementioned agents, scouts, and managers, were treated to the celebratory Welcome Ceremony hosted by Pageantry CEO Carl Dunn. With an exciting kickoff to the M.A.A.I. Modeling and Talent Convention, the informational opportunities were quickly addressed with the opening festivities followed by the New York Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts (NYCDA) acting seminar. The week commenced and it was time for the contestants to take all of their training and preparation to the M.A.A.I. stages.
The next morning began bright and early with the Photo Contest whereby the contestants were judged on their portfolio and comp card presentations. With the initial and personal meeting between the “decision makers” and the delegates complete, the first true stage competition lit up the ballroom with the Runway Competition. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and backed by pulsating and up-tempo music, the runway was awash with models hoping to hit the fashion destinations of the U.S. and Europe to model the designs of the industry’s biggest names.
With the M.A.A.I. Modeling and Talent Convention scheduled for the weekend, the day would be one filled with back-to-back competitions, thus allowing little time for nerves and anxiety to enter into the equation. Following the Runway Competition, everyone was whisked directly into Television Commercial and had the opportunity to showcase their “acting chops.” As the initial acting competition concluded, it was time to return to the stage with the Jeans and Creative Runway presentations. In the finale of the morning, the Monologue portion welcomed the actors back to show they had what it takes to be considered as on-air and on-set talent. It was a busy morning, but it was only the beginning of the journey in fulfilling the dreams of those in attendance.
Again, this was a weekend competition and the talent, as well as the agents, scouts, and managers, would have a full day of presentations. With the morning’s activities complete, the afternoon began in earnest with M.A.A.I. Has Talent. The talent competition is always entertaining and diverse in its competitors. Entertaining the judges were such talents as Vocalists (both with backing music as well as a cappella), Bollywood Dance, Ballet en Pointe, traditional Indian dance, and Instrumental. M.A.A.I. definitely presented a wide and diverse group of talent for the consideration of the audience and those who were tasked with making the difficult decisions of the weekend. With the completion of M.A.A.I. Has Talent, the stage and acting sets were again constructed for the afternoon’s activities of Soap Star (acting) and Swimsuit (runway).
The initial day was coming to a close, but M.A.A.I. had a very special celebration scheduled for all in attendance. To recognize the dedication to the ideals of M.A.A.I., as the original not-for-profit convention celebrating its 59th year, everyone was invited beachside for the Hello Miami! Party to visit with each other, review the day’s competitions, and take pictures alongside the surf of the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean. It was a wonderful ending to a busy day at M.A.A.I.
As with all competitions and conventions, the final day arrives with the knowledge that dreams of stardom can be realized. Providing one last opportunity to view the talented attendees, the “star makers” were presented with the Showcase of Models and Talent as each contestant walked the M.A.A.I. runway one final time. With the last walk completed and copious notes taken by the judges, the highly anticipated Model and Talent Search Callback session began. Callbacks are a whirlwind of activity as actors, models, and performers meet one-on-one with the agents, scouts, and managers who have expressed an interest in their individual performances and is a critical time to be presented with professional critiques and answer questions in a more personal setting. It is a time where decisions can be made in furthering their dreams of a career on the runway or stage.
All that was left of the celebratory Hello Miami! Weekend Convention was the glamorous and exciting Awards Ceremony, acknowledging outstanding performances in the numerous competitions. Beginning the award ceremony were the presentation of the Optional Competitions of Creative Runway and M.A.A.I. Has Talent (Child Division, Modern Female Division (ages 13-21), Female Semi-Pro (16-18), Female Petite Pro (12-17), Female Trendsetter (26-35), Female Trendsetter (36 and above), Male Semi-Pro (13-27), and Male Pro Division. Within the same age demographics, recognitions were also awarded for Jeans & Swimsuit as well as Monologue & Soap Star. It was an amazing beginning to the awards ceremony, and M.A.A.I. had a surprise planned for the event. Before the presentation of the final awards, the audience was treated to a very special performance by the delegation from Guam, a true Bollywood dance presentation which brought everyone to their feet in a standing ovation.
Then it was back to the awards ceremony and the presentations of the Mandatory competitions consisting of Television Commercial, Runway, and Photography which recognized the same age demographics as the Optional competitions. Additionally, plaques and crystal trophies were awarded for M.A.A.I. Celebrity of the Year, M.A.A.I. Outstanding Achiever, M.A.A.I. Rising Star, M.A.A.I. Outstanding Performer, Overall Child, Overall Male, Overall Female, and Actor of the Year. Not to be complacent with just plaques and trophies, the New York Conservatory awarded scholarships to their intensive and training programs in the amounts of $1,000 and $10,000!
It was almost time to close the convention, and it would conclude with an energetic presentation and announcement. Three awards are always presented at the end of the ceremonies which recognize outstanding dedication to the Modeling Association of America International organization: Excellence Award – The Smawley Agency, Award of Distinction – JRP Guam, and Agency of the Year (most callbacks) – The Smawley Agency. In a very poignant, emotional, and well-deserved recognition, George and Pat Bohnert were welcomed to the stage as the newest inductees into the M.A.A.I. Hall of Fame in recognition of their many years of service on behalf of the organization.
The 59th M.A.A.I. Modeling and Talent Convention brought top agents, scouts, and managers together in search of their next big discovery along with those dreaming of a career on the runway or stage. Before the lights could dim and the music could cease, a huge announcement was proclaimed which set the room abuzz with excitement, applause, and screams of delight. In honor of the history of M.A.A.I., the 60th Anniversary M.A.A.I. Modeling and Talent Convention would return to its beginnings… New York City! M.A.A.I. and New York City, together once again.
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