Ziye Burgess just might become a model ... or a nurse. She is pursuing both at the moment. The 16-year-old is one of 22 finalists hoping to win the commercial category in Top Model 2020. She is also enrolled in college, where her focus is health and social care.
“I’m exploring my options right now,” said Ziye, who started modelling four years ago when she moved with her family to Leicester, England.
“For a few years I’ve wanted to be involved in the medical field. At the moment I’m [undecided about my future], kind of in between modelling and going into nursing.”
The Top Model 2020 Fashion & Model Awards shows will take place on March 28 at the Amba Hotel Charing Cross in London.
The annual competition is described by its website as “the leading professional model search awards and fashion event with a proven track record of discovering new model talent, launching careers and creating dreams”.
Organisers claim many of its finalists and winners have signed with agencies, worked as professional models, been given the opportunity to publish and travel internationally and to walk at London Fashion Week.
Ziye’s mom, Angel Burgess, entered her for the competition on the sly.
“My mom tells me about basically everything I do,” she laughed. “She literally finds everything and she knew it was something I’d be interested in.
“I am really excited. My dad [Trinn Burgess] is flying out from Bermuda; basically my whole family’s coming.”
Despite having never modelled before, the teenager came second out of 3,000 people vying for the title of Miss Teen Top Model UK in 2018. Later that year, she placed in the top 15 of 135 hopefuls who entered Miss Teen Great Britain and raised more than £2,000 for the children’s charity the competition supported, Together for Short Lives.
“It was a really good experience,” said Ziye, who has also walked in Leicester Fashion Week a couple of times. “I really enjoyed it. It gave me a lot more perspective on modelling versus pageanting. It helped me realise that I was more into modelling.
“Modelling is more about fashion. It’s more ... kind of hip. Pageanting is more big dresses and ball gowns. You have to speak. With modelling you walk the runway. It was a great experience and I made a few friends but I also learnt that modelling suits me more.”
She is thrilled to be able to take advantage of all that living in a big city offers.
“It definitely expands my horizons,” she said of her life in Britain. “I have way more opportunities here than I ever could have gotten in Bermuda.”
Looking ahead, there are lots of “rehearsals and fittings” before the big day. She is excited about meeting the designers whose clothes will be a part of the event.
“[Top Model] recently did a coaching day where [competitors] go to London and meet other people in the show. They gave us training, showed us how to walk and gave us an idea of how the show would go.
“I’m not really nervous, I’m more excited. I’ll consider another one, regardless of how I do because I love doing it.”
Her mother said: “Ziye is the youngest in her category so some of the girls have more experience.
“However, she is confident that even if she doesn’t win, she definitely will leave a mark, as the judges were very happy with her experience on the runway.”
Meanwhile, Ziye’s hope is that people show their support by giving to the charity she’s raising funds for: The Top Model Foundation for sick children and children in need.
“The charity is part of the competition. I picked sick children because I feel it’s a really good cause. Anyone can donate to the charity and each pound counts as a vote to [me]. The funds go directly into the charity.”
Donations in her name total £832.85 so far. Ziye’s hope is to surpass the £2,000 she earned when she competed in Miss Teen Great Britain.
“Not a lot of people in Bermuda know that I’m competing,” she said. “The ones who do have been really supportive.”
•Help Ziye Burgess win the Top Model 2020 Public Vote Award by donating to The Top Model Foundation for sick children and children in need: topmodel.everydayhero.com/uk/ziye-b. For more information or to buy tickets to the Top Model 2020 Fashion & Model Awards shows, visit topmodel.co.uk; topmodelworldwide.com