Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Controversial pageant contestant gets show

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Talackova (centre) with Perry (left) and Radovanovic.

NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Talackova (centre) with Perry (left) and Radovanovic.

TORONTO -- After taking on tycoon Donald Trump and becoming an advocate for equal rights as the first transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant in 2012, Jenna Talackova was swimming in offers promising fame.

"I was pitched many shows when I was in L.A.," the statuesque, 6-foot-1 blond said in a recent interview. "My agent kept sending me down there and it just didn't align with my personality. "Dating shows and all these kinds of things, it wasn't the message I was trying to give out to the world and so I lost a lot of confidence."

And then she met the producers of E's new original Canadian series Brave New Girls, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.

Talackova said she wanted to star in the reality series because it's Canadian and offered the chance to pursue her dreams of modelling and acting.

"I just hope I make it more socially acceptable for anybody that's different from society's kind of person," said Talackova, who decided to fully transition into a woman at age 14 and had sex reassignment surgery at age 19. "So I hope this show sends that message -- to accept people for who they are."

The show also stars Talackova's friend Dajana Radovanovic, a model who's finishing her criminology degree and wants Talackova to focus on her goals. Also featured is her more free-wheeling cousin Angela Perry, who wants her to loosen up.

Perry wanted to be on the show to support what she felt was a positive message and "a way to promote understanding and acceptance."

Radovanovic felt it was "an amazing platform for young women and also just people from all walks of life."

"Just to see Jenna living a regular life like everybody else, that's probably the main message," she said.

It's not a smooth road, though.

In the premiere of the half-hour, eight-episode series, Talackova expresses interest in an apartment but agents for the building express concern about her "profile." Her history also scares off a guy at a bar.

Talackova, who was originally barred from competing in Trump's Miss Universe Canada because of her gender at birth. After threatening to take Trump to court, she was allowed in and placed in the Top 12.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 17, 2014 D5

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