Inside Brazil's Model Factory

Model scouts hoping to find the next Gisele look for young girls they can train to become top models.
3:00 | 04/01/14

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Transcript for Inside Brazil's Model Factory
Test Text1 italics Test Text1 plain model hunters are finding them very, very young. Here's ABC's Mariana van Zeller. Reporter: So many quests to find the most beautiful women on Earth have led to these exotic shores, famous for effortlessly stunning women. But even here -- Gisele! Reporter: -- This Brazilian bombshell stands out. Gisele bundchen is runway royalty. A brand endorsement powerhouse. Dolce & gabbana. Reporter: And the world's top-earning supermodel. ? Tall and tan and young and lovely ? but it turns out she's not the girl from ipanema. Gisele was discovered 1,000 miles away from Rio. I'm from this small city in the south of Brazil in the countryside. And I'm 17. Reporter: Blessed with a potent genetic cocktail of european and south American beauty that has since produced wildly successful models. She's a natural. Reporter: Including Victoria's secret superstar Alessandra ambroseio. In 2000 they were just crazy about the Brazilians. The tan skin, the hair, the curves, the sensuality. We needed a change in the fashion industry. So Brazilians became super popular. Reporter: Ever since these goddesses were discovered model hunters have flocked to the land of Gisele and Alessandra in search of the next top model. We're out here in front of this school. We're waiting for the kids do come out. This is where Diego comes here a lot to look for possible potential models. No. I just asked him there's a tall girl coming out. He says she's too heavy. Reporter: Diego is recruiting girls to fill an annual cast call with Brazil's most influential agency. [ Speaking foreign language ]. Reporter: Could Diego really find another supermodel just roaming the streets? Or is everyone here, including this scout, under the spefl a gisele-fueled fantasy? The day before his big casting event he's come to meet one of his most promising recruits. She may just look like a cute 9-year-old, but in a few years Diego thinks she'll be a knockout. He likes the symmetry of aline's face, her skin tone and hair, and he predicts she'll be a big hit with the agents this weekend. Supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio was also discovered in a rural southern town. She was 14 years old. I was way too young. I haven't grown up like all the way. But I knew that's what I wanted. It's definitely better for a girl to wait a little bit, get a little bit more smart, intelligent about life so when they get into this modeling career you don't get exploited as much. [ Speaking foreign language ]. Reporter: For a lot of girls in this rural region modeling is one of the few ways out. And that's why aline's single-income family has invested so much to make their dream a reality. This is the hotel where everything's going to happen this weekend. And it's an interesting dynamic because everybody's sort of looking at each other and sizing each other up. Reporter: Ever the operator, Diego greets over 100 candidates who pay $1,000 each for the events. Both boys and girls from the region. Many candidates are aline's arnlgs so age, some even younger. They'll spend the first day with pros coming in who are preparing them for tomorrow's make or break audition. Even the youngest kids are whipped into shape. That's the little babies and toddlers. Some of these babies can't even walk yet. So it's the moms who have to bring them all the way down the runway. He's telling the mom how to walk with the baby. Reporter: Now, I'm no expert. But as I watch everyone train, I notice that most of these girls don't look like top models in the making. So why are they even here? He tells me no, not his event. He says he won't sell the illusion of a dream because he can't guarantee it. It all culminates in a few fleeting but critical moments in front of Brazil's most influential agents. Tony only has seven years in the business. So he's still trying to make a name for himself with a big discovery. This is the first phase of casting. And the candidates have a lot on the line. But the stakes are also high for these agents. Their credibilities depend on being able to predict which of these young girls are worthy of a long-term investment. Being a model, you have to start young. Many girls like 16, 17 years old, they are already like spoiled. And that's all of the reason that now we are choosing kids, because we can maybe have time to shape them the way we want. Reporter: So do they see potential in young aline? Now in a back room, the final evaluation. All those big expensive dreams come down to this moment. Aline. Reporter: A flat out rejection from the first agent. But she still puts on a brave face. Aline, she's a very cute girl. I liked a lot her face. She has potential. Reporter: Good news for aline. Tony selects her as a follow-up even though she's too young to work. He hopes to groom her for a future career. Meanwhile, this 14-year-old is hoping to land a lucrative modeling deal. But she's starting to realize the kind of sacrifices she'll have to make to get it. The agent tells her she has to take care of her body now or she'll keep gaining weight and turn into a whale. In all, four agencies select aline for follow-up. But none offer her an actual modeling contract. Her chances for stardom may be fading. Lately, it's fresh faces from new markets like eastern Europe and Asia that are dominating the runway. That means model hunters might soon lose interest in Brazil. But for now here in the south, business is still driving the

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