Lu Celania Sierra, seated at right, coaching a model It turns out the leggy contestants of Miss Universe aren't total naturals when it comes to strutting the runway. They've actually been schooled by one of the biggest names in modeling you've probably never heard of: Lu Celania Sierra, a supermodel who has parlayed her years of experience into a thriving runway coach business.
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Now in her sixth year as the official coach of the Miss Universe pageant, Sierra gets just a few intense days—which must be shared with time for the choreographer—to help every contestant polish crucial details of her walk, pose, expressions and hand positioning. And, because of the crunch time, the elegant, pull-no-punches coach says she must be sure to keep everyone's eyes on the prize.
"When I'm a little harsh, it's because I have to say, 'Listen, we don't have time to play around,'" she explains in a behind-the-scenes video on the website for her coaching business, Alup International. In the video, she tells a studio full of contestants, "I want the face with the pose with the walk with the attitude! When you're doing your final pose like this," she says, standing and wobbling wildly as if she's tipsy, "that's them voting!"
Lu Celania SierraSierra certainly knows what she's talking about. An Elite model, the 5'11"½ beauty has commanded catwalks for over a decade for some of the fashion world's biggest designers, including Bob Mackie, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio Armani and Givency. Through Alup International, she coaches runway models, preps pageant contestants, teaches modeling 101 and offers phone consultations for newbies at a charge of $50 an hour. She's also been featured on "Keeping up with the Kardashians Season Six," and has had commercial and movie roles, including as an office executive in The Devil Wears Prada.
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Now she uses her experience to help others develop their own panache. "I am the one that teaches them to look into the camera and, with their eyes, say, 'There are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who want to be me, and those who want to marry me'," she explains in the video. (This appears to be Sierra's phrase to live by, as it's also featured on her Facebook page.)
And how can Sierra spot a winner in the crowd of Miss Universe contestants? "She's not always the tallest, not always the prettiest," she explains. "She's always the one in rehearsal that, every time we ask her to walk, she walks full-on. We can see in her eyes that she sees the house cheering for her. She can hear the screams."
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