SHE'S the face of Myer and has strutted down catwalks around the world, but Jennifer Hawkins says hosting Australia's Next Top Model is "the best gig".
After a year-long hiatus, the show returns for its eighth series with Hawkins as host and Didier Cohen as a new judge alongside mainstays Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry.
"What have I stumbled upon?" she told The Guide.
"There was a previous time they asked me and I couldn't do it. I was devastated. I really respect the show. But it all worked out for this season. I was very excited when I signed on the dotted line."
At the top of her game, Hawkins has had to balance the show with her modelling commitments and recent wedding in Bali to long-time beau Jake Wall.
After being named the show's new host in November, she joined the judges and representatives from IMG Models on the audition trail in Sydney and Melbourne in January.
"There were lots of nerves and, can I say, desperation in a way," she said.
"They wanted it so much. You could see it pouring out of their eyes. I found it quite interesting to do that audition process. You just want to let everyone through, but you have to be honest; it's better off for them."
The former Miss Universe promises the show's best photo shoots yet.
"We're working with the best in the industry," she said.
"The photo shoots have been incredible. People want to see the girls transformed. They have to be able to sell the clothes and sell themselves. To see the finished product is fantastic."
But delivering the heart-breaking news of elimination every week has been tough for Hawkins.
"Looking in these girls' eyes and they're welling up, they're saying a million words at once, just in a look," she said.
"I definitely give them hugs on and off camera. It's like you're saying no to their dreams. But, as I always say, 'just keep going'. The show is a platform."
After former host Sarah Murdoch's famous winner announcement slip-up at 2010's live grand final, all eyes will be on Hawkins this year.
But she says she's ready for the pressures of live TV.
"I knew I wanted to give the show 120% if I did it," she said. "I find live TV fun… I'm really looking forward to it."
Tuesday's premiere episode will see the top 50 girls from the auditions go to boot camp in Sydney. Only 15 will be chosen to move into the Top Model house.
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