Music industry powerhouses HYBE and Geffen Records revealed the 20 contestants from around the world who will be competing for a spot in the first-ever HYBE x Geffen Records global girl group. The young women from diverse countries including Filipina, Sophia Laforteza were selected after more than 120,000 submissions since HYBE and Geffen announced the joint venture, HYBE x Geffen Global Girl Group Audition, in November of 2021.

Sophia Laforteza
(Photo Credit: HYBE x Geffen Records)

In a Facebook post, the mother of Sophia Laforteza, actress Carla Guevarra Laforteza is thankful and grateful for all the love and support being showered on their daughter. She says, “Pangarap🇵🇭❤️ LETS GO PHILIPPINES!!!! @sophia_laforteza To GOD be the glory! 🙌🙏🏻”

The one-of-a-kind joint venture marks the first time a major U.S. record label and a K-pop entertainment leader have combined their expertise in artist discovery, and music production to assemble, develop, and introduce an international girl group unlike any other. This also notably represents the first time a U.S.-based, truly global girl group will be created and modeled based on the world-renowned K-pop training and development system, under which the contestants have been quietly training over the last year in Los Angeles, CA.

The years-long process of creating this one-of-a-kind girl group will be the subject of an upcoming untitled Netflix documentary series. With unprecedented access, the series will be a compelling portrayal of the journey to global stardom, including insight into the unique training and development program from HYBE and Geffen Records. It will be directed by award-winning filmmaker, Nadia Hallgren, who was at the helm of the four-time Emmy® nominated Netflix documentary, Becoming. The series produced by HYBE, Interscope Films and Boardwalk Pictures is set to premiere in 2024. 

Sophia Laforteza
Sophia Laforteza’s Art Film Shot (Photo Credit: HYBE x Geffen Records)

Starting now, the 20 aspiring artists will participate in a world-class audition program titled “The Debut: Dream Academy”, and fans can follow the contestants as they embark on the audition program. The content will premiere on September 1st at 8am U.S. PDT on YouTube (Global), and ABEMA (Japan). At the end of the audition program later this year, the final members of the group will be determined, and the name of the group will be revealed.

This groundbreaking global girl group will also be integrated into the Weverse fandom platform, allowing global fans to closely follow the transformative journey of the 20 exceptionally gifted contestants in the audition program.

At the press event, which took place at the IGA Studios in Santa Monica, CA, the leaders behind this unprecedented project, Bang Si-Hyuk (Chairman of HYBE) and John Janick (Chairman & CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M), shared the history and vision for the HYBE x Geffen Records partnership. They also offered insight into the upcoming girl group and how it will impact the music industry on a global scale.

Bang says, “I have wanted to form an international group based on K-pop methodology for a while. To do this I believed we needed a capable partner. When I met John (Janick), from the first moment, we both felt instantly that we had a connection, musically and creatively. I am very proud of the rich history we have made and the tremendous talent we have found. I am proud of the opportunities we have created within the K-Pop universe.”

Sophia Laforteza
(Photo Credit: HYBE x Geffen Records)

Janick states, “Since we began our partnership two years ago, Bang and I have often spoken about our shared beliefs in artist development, music and creativity. To develop a global group with Bang, with the best of K-Pop methodology, and our Geffen team, is truly special and will bring to life a first-of-its kind experience in music. Each candidate is incredibly talented, dedicated, and driven, making this an exciting moment for music fans around the world.”

Following the remarks by Bang and Janick, a panel of experts who were instrumental to the project held an in-depth Q&A. The experts included, Tom March (President, Geffen Records), Mitra Darab (President, HxG), Sungdeuk Son (Executive Creator, HxG), Humberto Leon (Creative Director), and Jay Ihn (Head of Creative Production, HxG).

The evening wrapped with the reveal of the 20 contestants from around the world competing for a spot at global stardom. An art film introducing the contestants and showcasing their talents was presented at the press event. Watch it below.

Separately, “The Debut: Dream Academy” audition program content will be available to watch online. It will premiere on September 1st at 8am U.S. PDT on YouTube (Global) and ABEMA (Japan) and will span across 12 weeks leading up to the live finale on November 17th where the top contestants will vie for a spot in the final group. Fans will play a crucial role throughout the entire competition via fan voting on Weverse and TikTok.

Alongside fan voting, a panel of experienced evaluators will offer valuable feedback and guidance to the contestants, playing an essential role in shaping the growth and development of these talented young women.

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