Project Runway is starting the casting process for its ninth season, and contrary to what you may think, having a “strong personality” is not the main criterion, according to casting director Alissa Haight Carlton. “The biggest thing is the talent,” she says, noting that the format of the show requires someone who “sews like crazy” and can make garments that aren’t going to fall apart. People with a strong point of view—in their designs—tend to attract interest. “The personality is secondary,” she says. “We never go into it saying we need to find the blond who will stir up problems.” That said, “the show would be no fun if it was 16 wallflowers.” Her best piece of advice is that old chestnut: be yourself. “People think we want someone who’s going to make a big spectacle of themselves,” she says. “If it’s legitimate, fair enough. But we can tell when someone’s not being real.”

Candidates must be at least 21, not have made more than $100,000 a year in gross sales as a fashion designer, and “need to be able to disappear for a few months and be on the show full-time,” says Carlton. Go to to apply. The deadline is April 15.