As seen on TV

Local woman on ‘America’s Next Top Model’


Renee Bhagwandeen is living the dream. Her dream — of being on America’s Next Top Model.

“I wish my grandmother could be alive to see this,” says the local looker of the show premiering 8 p.m. Friday on the CW. “It’s an opportunity I never would have expected.”

The Trinidad and Tobago native, who came to South Florida at the age of 6, has admired ANTM host, supermodel Tyra Banks, as long as she can remember.

“I’m a big, big Tyra fan,” says Bhagwandeen, who went to South Plantation High School. “When you meet her you’re just like, ‘Seriously? You’re kind of friggin’ awesome.’ Everything you expect her to be and more.”

This season of ANTM is a little different: The wannabes are both male and female. Though the contestant can’t reveal too much of what went down in the two-gender competition, it should make for some interesting television.

“I don’t think any cycle has anything on our cycle,” Bhagwandeen promises. “It’s like nothing that I’ve ever seen before, and I mean that in a good way.”

Bhagwandeen joins fellow local, Chlea Ramirez, who lives in Coconut Grove. The two became instant buds.

“We’re South Florida girls. We’re happy to be alive and happy for the opportunities we have. We bonded because of that,” says Bhagwandeen, adding: “And we’re both Libras. We love everybody.”

To stay runway ready, Bhagwandeen climbs stairs at a track near her Lauderdale Lakes home, and thanks her blessings for good genes.

“I guess I’m one of the lucky ones,” she says. “I could be more toned, but I’m getting there. The older I get I realize working out is important.”

Especially if you like hot dogs as much as she does. With full-on bun. “Oh my gosh. You have to have the bread! That’s like taking away the love.”

The former pageant princess boasts that she can eat whatever she wants and not gain weight.

“My weakness is if I see something I really, really want, I say to myself, ‘I deserve that!’ I’m like a pregnant lady. I’m just into food, period. It’s so bad.”

Goals after the show include acting and appearing on the cover of Vogue, especially if she wins (the prizes: a contract with NEXT, a spread in Nylon, a campaign with Guess and a cool $100,000).

Then again, if the whole modeling thing doesn’t work out, Bhagwandeen has other, less glamorous aspirations: owning a food truck.

“I’d make crazy friggin’ hot dogs and experiment with weird toppings. That would be the best job ever. ”

Madeleine Marr

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