Humboldt Park’s native Blanca Andaluz, “Kanani,” can be seen on the new season of “America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20,” which debuted on Aug. 2. The 19-year-old Kanani, a single mother of one-year-old Samarii, was born to a Puerto Rican and French father and a Cuban and African-American mother.
EXTRA: How did it all start?
Blanca Andaluz: I told my mom when I turn 18, I will try out for “America’s Next Top Model.” So when the time came, I tried out and I got accepted but there were some discrepancies with my school so I couldn’t do it. I tried out this season and I made it.
What is it like to audition for America’s Next Top Model?
It is nerve-wracking because there is a certain reputation you have to appeal to. You have to make yourself who they want you to be but still be yourself at the same time.
What do you mean by that?
Every designer and agency wants models to be blank canvases. If they want to color your hair purple, you have to color it. You can’t say no. You have to try to keep an open mind.
How was living with the girls on the show?
It was a little different because I never lived with so many different females that I didn’t know. It was part of growing up because I have never been away from home.
How was it meeting Tyra Banks?
Meeting her made me feel more confident with myself. I have had low self esteem for a long time.
Why did you have a low self esteem?
My low self esteem started when I was a little girl. I would always be teased because I was the tallest in the class. I had big ears and crooked teeth. When you are constantly being teased, you start to doubt yourself. You have to believe in yourself for others to believe in you. I have to be a role model to my daughter and everybody else.
What are some of the challenges that you had to face on the show?
The show in itself is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. The hardest thing for me was being away from my daughter for so long.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I hope to model and get a degree at the same time so I can show my daughter and everybody else that I can be independent. I want to go back to school, continue modeling and open a youth shelter.
What would you say to those girls and boys from the neighborhoods that don’t have the support they need to make it?
A lot of young people have come to me and I tell them don’t doubt yourself. Even if you feel like nobody is going to back you up, go for it. Don’t ever sell yourself short.