AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Season: 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Canon, Heidi Klum, Howard Stern, Melanie Brown (Mel B), Howie Mandel -- (Photo by: Justin Stephens/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Season: 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Canon, Heidi Klum, Howard Stern, Melanie Brown (Mel B), Howie Mandel -- (Photo by: Justin Stephens/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Season: 9 -- Pictured: Heidi Klum -- (Photo by: Justin Stephens/NBC)
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Season: 9 -- Pictured: Heidi Klum -- (Photo by: Justin Stephens/NBC)

From Project Runway to America’s Got Talent – former catwalk queen Heidi Klum is determined to do it all in Hollywood, with acting, hosting and producing under her belt, too. Debashine Thangevelo learnt how the fashion designer is finding her feet as the fourth judge for the ninth season of America’s Got Talent…

HER LIFE story reads like a Hollywood film waiting to be made. Married to British R&B singer Seal for seven years until their somewhat messy divorce in 2012, the former catwalk queen, who has graced the covers of prominent magazines, proved adept at acting, hosting, producing as well as fashion designing.

And Heidi Klum continues to surprise – like she did with her TV baby, Project Runaway, which bagged her Emmy and Peabody awards in 2008 – by wetting her feet in a new reality arena as a judge on America’s Got Talent.

On being signed up, she revealed: “Well, I love television. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 20 years. And usually it’s been very specific – either about fashion or models. What I love about America’s Got Talent is the variety. I don’t watch a lot of television, but I have always watched America’s Got Talent just because it wasn’t specific. It’s singers, it’s jugglers, comedians… a little bit of everything. The producers don’t tell us who is coming on the stage next, so it’s always a surprise.

“I sit there open-minded and just kind of suck it all in. That’s why I don’t love to buzz superfast – I always feel like I have to give these people a chance to do their thing. So I’m usually not as ‘trigger-happy’ as some of the other judges.”

Admitting to her jaundiced eye towards comedians, viewers can definitely expect to see more on the show this season.

As for what she is looking for, Klum revealed: “I’m not looking for anything specific. I want to have someone walk on that stage and surprise me. Show me something I haven’t seen before. There is a little bit of a checklist in my head: is it unique? Would I want to see more of that? Was it different? Would I buy a ticket to go to Vegas to watch that? Those are the kind of things that go through my head. And then it gets much harder later on when you have 30 or 40 amazing and talented people. The first rounds are easier. And then I’m happy that America takes over so I don’t have to do that any more because it’s hard. You fall in love with these people.

“I have had so many singers that gave me chills.”

Although she finds herself nursing some seriously sappy emotions, especially when exposed to the hopefuls’ struggles and back-stories, Klum relies on her gut instinct when making decisions.

That said, she isn’t a fan of crushing dreams.

She pointed out: “Telling people, ‘No!’ is always hard. Like I said before, they are not actors, they are real people. They come there, stand in line for a day to show their bit for a minute or a minute-and-a-half. It’s hard to crush someone’s dream.”

What’s even more crushing for her is when they beg to have that “X” taken back and refuse to get off the stage.

Does Klum have any special talent?

She laughed: “I can walk on raw eggs. I have taped them to the back of my heels so you walk just on the front of your foot. I do that on Germany’s Next Top Model. I have my girls do that so they learn to walk on the front of their foot.”

Sifting through the unforgettable moments of the auditions for this season, Klum recalled: “There was this woman. She was on roller- blades and was making orange juice on her bra. Yes, she sewed on these kind of juicer pieces under her bra and was making orange juice while singing and roller-blading.”

Of course, the series, given its format, opens the gates to the bizarre and tweird along with the mesmerising and talented.

Bottom line?

Klum is having a blast on the show and has made such an indelible impression on the producers that she has been asked to return for season 10.

• America’s Got Talent airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) from Monday at 6.30pm.


• David Hasselhoff, Brandy Norwood and Piers Morgan were the original judging panel in 2006. Sharon Osbourne joined from 2007 until 2012, when she left in a huff over a dispute she had relating to her son, Jack. Howie Mandel joined in 2010, with Howard Stern signed up in 2012. Melanie Brown and Heidi Klum were the final two additions.

• Regis Philbin hosted the first season in 2006 with Jerry Springer taking over for the second and third seasons. Now Nick Cannon is more synonymous with the series, having made an indelible impression since season four.

• Eleven-year-old singer Bianca Ryan won season one, with Terry Fator, a singing impressionist ventriloquist, taking the title in 2007. Other winners include Neal E Boyd, an opera singer (season three); country singer Kevin Skinner (season four); singer Michael Grimm (season five); Frank Sinatra-esque singer Landau Eugene Murphy jr (season six); Olate Dogs (season seven); and martial arts dancer and mime Kenichi Ebina (season eight).

• There are a few twists this season. Judgement Week is held in New York City instead of Las Vegas. The producers scrapped the live audience participation, too. The golden buzzer is introduced. This means that it can be used “only once” by the judges to save an act, typically used when there is a tie.