Tanya Hutchison, a Detroit native and mother of five, won TV Land's competition this summer for middle-aged models on "She's Got the Look" with Kim Alexis.
What contributed to her win, she says, is the confidence she developed while dealing with the reality show of her youth, growing up with a mother who struggled with drug abuse.
Tanya, who graduated from Western Michigan University, credits teachers and coaches at Highland Park High School for believing in her when she doubted herself.
At home: Tanya lives in Orange County, Calif., a mother to four sons and one daughter, ages 8-16. She met her husband of 18 years, Charles Hutchison, on a Valentine's Day blind date in Los Angeles.
Before TV Land: Tanya was a former Ebony Fashion Fair model. She also produced fashion shows, etiquette seminars and pageants and started a nonprofit called Phenomenal Women Inc. An essay she wrote -- "Never Ever Give Up" -- was published in "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul."
What she won: She has a contract with the Wilhelmina Models and a spread in the August issue of Self magazine.
What it feels like: It's a sense of accomplishment," says Tanya, "just knowing that if you stay true to yourself and believe in yourself, the impossible can happen."
Beauty dos: "First thing in the morning, I wash my face and head to the gym. That stimulates my inner body and mind, and it makes me feel awesome."
Childhood obstacles: "People see me and think: 'She's had a charmed life,' " says Tanya. "I grew up in Detroit with a mother that was not very responsible. I was left alone, and my siblings and I were placed in foster care. I was legally adopted by my grandparents and was reared by them."