Up until a couple of years ago, I was a devoted viewer of America's Next Top Model. It's not because I ever wanted to be a model or enjoy watching mega narcissistic Tyra Banks. I think I watched it for the train wreck craziness that came with each new cycle. I liked that they called each season "cycle", too. Kind of made me think of periods, which seemed oddly appropriate.
I quit watching ANTM when J. Alexander and Jay Manuel were fired. Nigel Barker was fired too, but I cared a lot less about him. I have heard Miss J is back on the show now, but the ship has sailed and I have no interest in watching it anymore. Kelly Cutrone is also on it and I can't stand her, especially when she's paired up with Tyra. Moreover, I don't like that there are guys in the house. That was something that worked well on Make Me A Supermodel, which didn't last long, but was a more legit show.
Anyway, one of the better cycles was Cycle 8, which happened to air in the spring of 2007. Bill was deployed to Iraq at the time, so I found myself getting very involved with trashy television. That's also when I got hooked on Making The Team: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. During Cycle 8 of ANTM, there was a contestant named Renee Alway. She was just 21 years old at the time, newly married to Jason DeWitt with whom she shared a baby boy named Troy. I thought she was just beautiful, even though she was quite bitchy to the other women. She was very confrontational and frequently got in fights with them. But sometimes she'd show a softer side, like in the video below.
Renee talks about fellow troubled Cycle 8 castmate, Jael Strauss...
Renee ended up coming in third place that season. I was kind of sad about that, since I didn't really like the two who placed ahead of her. Jaslene Gonzales won that cycle and the runner up was Russian Natasha Galkina, who now goes by the name Natalie Gal.
Renee gets eliminated...
But Tyra Banks still had a heart for Renee and the following year, she had her as a contestant on a mini modeling competition on her now defunct talk show, Tyra. I didn't watch Renee on that show, but I understand she was the runner up. As young and beautiful as she was at the time, there's no reason her life should have turned out the way it has.
Renee on the Tyra Banks show... She's the one looking absolutely gutted when Dominique won.
In June 2013, Renee Alway was found hiding in a garage when someone reported a "suspicious female on private property". She was arrested for multiple counts of burglary, fraud, and a count each of vehicle theft and possession of a firearm. I was shocked when I saw pictures of the formerly beautiful woman, now wearing chains and sporting a shaved head. She reportedly shaved her head because she wanted to "start over".
This is so very sad... not just for Renee, but for her kids, too.
Yesterday, I got curious about Renee again and discovered that she was just sentenced to twelve years in prison. Now no longer a ravishing blonde beauty, she has a mohawk and looks decidedly masculine.
I suppose this is a better look than...
This is what Renee looked like when she was arrested in Palm Springs, California in June 2013.
I watched Cycle 8 of ANTM yesterday and as I viewed Renee when she was still model material, I could tell she was pretty troubled, angry, and very manipulative. But she also seemed to have a good heart deep down and I know she loved her son, who was shown on one episode. What a tragedy it is that she has turned to a life of crime and ended up in this position. She may not be out of prison until she's 40 years old. By then, her little boy will be a young man.
I hate to see wasted potential, especially if it means a person with talent and ability is sitting in a prison cell. I hope Renee gets the help she needs, though I doubt it will happen.