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Chicagoan hopes to be ‘Top Model’

3-9-07 Staff mug shot Bill Zwecker. phoby Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

3-9-07 Staff mug shot of Bill Zwecker. photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

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Updated: September 3, 2013 7:04AM

Humboldt Park resident Kanani Andaluz, 19, is one of 16 finalists on the new cycle of “America’s Next Top Model,” returning on the CW network at 7 p.m. Friday (WGN-Channel 9). The Orr Academy High School alum spoke to me this week, explaining how she became intrigued with life as a model, participating in a nationally televised reality show to pursue that dream — and getting to know the show’s creator, former supermodel Tyra Banks.

Q. How long have you chased your dream of becoming a model?

A. I started doing beauty pageants when I was like 13. I had been in them for about three years, and that was when I first caught wind of “Top Model” and after that, I never missed an episode. I would tell my Mom, “When I’m 18, I am definitely trying out for ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ ”

Q. This year, the big change is adding the men — with male models competing with the women. Does that make it more challenging?

A. I didn’t feel the guys made any difference, because when it comes to modeling, guys are usually just a prop. That was pretty much what every girl who I was in the competition with said. Guys were no competition at all.

Q. Obviously Tyra Banks is the “queen” of all this. What have you enjoyed getting to know about her?

A. I had watched Tyra for a long time. I’m even a fan of her movie ‘Life-Size’ (a 2000 Disney TV film, also starring Lindsay Lohan) where she was like the doll that comes to life. So ever since that movie, I was obsessed with Tyra Banks. So when I found out that I would get a chance to meet her, it was definitely life-changing for me.

Q. What would you say was the most important thing you’ve learned from her?

A. One of the things she stressed a lot was to be yourself, but not to the point where it’s a bad thing. Always know who you are, and don’t change who you are for anybody. Yet, don’t be too bold, but always know exactly what you’re supposed to say and when you’re supposed to say it.

Q. What were some of the “do’s” would you say you’ve learned from Tyra about being a good model?

A. The main thing is always to remain focused and always remember you are a blank canvas [for the clothes]. Always have a positive attitude, because your attitude rubs off on other people around you. When you show up and it’s negative, that rubs off on other people and thus gives you what she called “an iffy vibe.”

Q. Besides modeling, what else do you like to do?

A. Well, I am a full-time mom. I have a 2-year-old daughter. So I spend a lot of time with her. We dance a lot. We are really into reading, so I read a lot to her. I write poetry. We watch a lot of movies..

Q. I understand that “Edward Scissorhands” is your favorite movie. Is that because of Johnny Depp?

A. I love Johnny Depp. Anything that is with Johnny Depp. I know “Edward Scissorhands,” “Cry-Baby,” you name it. I know every word to every movie he has ever done.

Well, just about!

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