April Danzy clearing runway for takeoff on reality ‘Strut’Published 10:12am Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
As she nears her 30th birthday Feb. 6, former Dowagiac All-Sports Award winner April Renita Danzy’s “lifelong modeling dream” and desire to travel have carried her from Brooklyn, N.Y., and New Jersey to Arizona.
Now she hopes to really go national on the “Strut” runway reality show and bring television cameras to her hometown.
April, who lives in Phoenix and works at a restaurant in Scottsdale, totaled her car on the way to audition.
The premiere airs Sunday, Jan. 31, in Arizona.
“This is going to hit the national networks very soon,” Danzy told the Daily News Tuesday, “so I’m trying to gather the biggest fan base from back home and represent for the Midwest.”
April, who graduated from DUHS in 1999, was born Feb. 6, 1980, at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind.
She grew up in Dowagiac, raised by her mother, Wanda (Danzy) Pritchard, who was Dowagiac Housing Commission executive director.
“My father’s side of the family lived and still lives in South Bend,” she said. “My father, Ricky Bridges, passed away when I was 10 years old. His mother, my grandmother Clara Cotton; his sister, Joyce Lockett; and brother, Isaac Hunt, still reside in the South Bend area.
“My mother, Wanda, still lives in Dowagiac with my sisters, Ashley and Alexandria. My brother, Vernell Beckum, his wife Veronica and kids live in Indianapolis. I have an older sister, Candace Danzy and her three children reside in Kalamazoo, where she works as a CNA. I also have my best friend, Carla Lowe, who lives in South Bend as well.”
April won the All-Sports Award for excelling in basketball, volleyball and softball coupled with her academic standing throughout four years of high school.
After high school, she moved to Kalamazoo to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College for two years, playing basketball and volleyball on a full-ride athletic scholarship.
After graduating from KVCC, April moved to Brooklyn to attend Long Island University on a full volleyball scholarship.
She graduated from LIU in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
“After graduating in New York, I stayed in the city to pursue a lifelong modeling dream,” she said. “After experiencing the ups and downs of the fashion industry, I then moved to New Jersey for about a year and a half where I worked as a preschool teacher/assistant director.”
April has been modeling on and off for almost 10 years.
“I spent a lot of my time playing sports in high school and college. I didn’t have time to devote to both,” April said. “My mode of thinking was that I wanted to receive my college degree first, so I could always have something to back me up if things didn’t work out in the fashion industry.
“Growing up, I had three goals I always wanted to accomplish, the things I knew I was going to do: 1. graduate college as an athlete; 2. become a model; and 3. travel the world meeting as many people as possible to learn more about myself.”
April said she heard about the show from a co-worker at Bacon Restaurant, a “small breakfast joint” in Old Town Scottsdale.
“One of the talent scouts came in and was talking about the show and my co-worker says, ‘I know just the right runway model for your show.’ She gave me the phone number to the Elayna White Model Management/Havik & Nella Productions, the company producing the show,” April said. “I called and went out the next day to the first day of auditions and made it past the first round of callbacks in two hours.”
The next day, she went to work at Bacon in the morning, then home to change for her big audition to make it as a finalist on the show at the Tempe Cinemas.
“On my way home,” she said, “I unexpectedly got into a car accident. A lady made a complete stop on a 40-mph road and caused a three-car pile-up – and, of course my car was the only one totaled.
“Despite all that, I still rushed home and my boyfriend drove me to the audition. I put my game face on and, after about four hours of taping, they announced the top 15 finalists chosen to get the show started. We were the first girls cast to start filming and producing the commercial. I then found out the winner of ‘Strut’ will receive a $15,000 cash prize, a new car and a modeling contract with Elayna White Model Management. How ironic, right? I get in a car accident the day of auditions. I feel like God is testing me.”
Before the show, April juggled three jobs with modeling.
“I worked at Devil’s Martini, Bacon, Buffalo Wild Wings and booked occasional modeling jobs,” she said. “I was also signed with one of the most reputable modeling agencies in the valley, The Agency AZ, but will have to put that on hold pending the competition. Now I only have time for one job, really, but I still work at Devil’s Martini as a bartender on Friday or Saturday nights, and at Bacon Restaurant as a server during the week.”
The first episode airs Feb. 14 on Valentines Day. “Until the national network picking up the show is released, stay tuned to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, MyStudio to vote for model of the week and on my fan page at April D. a.k.a. ‘Legs’ from Strut Reality,” she said.
During the show, finalists will not live in the same house as on other reality programs, but meet up for Saturday’s challenge-photo shoot; and Sunday’s four to five hours of runway practice of a challenge that will be presented live on Monday.
Contestants will also be giving back to the community doing charity work every Sunday between 1 and 3 p.m.
“They will be airing a short segment of us doing charity work called ‘Strut Shares’ after each episode. And on Mondays we go live on the runway in front of a live audience. In the beginning of each show there will be a ‘strut off’ with the five contestants with the lowest fan votes. Two will be eliminated. After the show is over and each contestant has done the runway challenge, two to three more girls will be eliminated. So, for me to have immunity and not be up for elimination, I need to have the most fan votes,” April said.
Each week’s fan favorite wins $1,000 and immunity.
The overall Strut winner, in addition to the $15,000 and modeling contract, earns endorsement opportunities and celebrity exposure and will go on a Models on a Mission U.S. tour.
Ten finalists will be selected to receive a contract, win $5,000 and take part in the tour.
The show describes its concept this way: Strut is a new hit reality show, celebrating the ultra talented, mega walkers of the runway. It will be the ultimate runway competition among unknown, yet extraordinary, talented individuals, all with different backgrounds and lifestyles. Set over 13 weeks, 50 edgy, talented and driven runway models will rehearse, compete, perfect and and master their self proclaimed ‘Super Model Walk!’
Introducing Host/Creator Kivah Harris and Co-Host Greg Peniston, judges are Jennifer Stringfellow, owner of Prime-3 Public Relations; Natalie Fuentes, owner of Poise Runway; Ashley LaRae Sampson, fashion stylist; Rickie Gonzales, creator/owner of House of VMarie; and Tonya Allen, producer/writer of “Triumph Over Tragedy: A Memoir.”
“The only thing we have filmed so far are the auditions, commercial and feature footage. This week and last week they have been gathering footage from each finalist, following us around to introduce to the world who we are and what we like to do – and why you should vote for us,” April said.
Last Saturday, Jan. 23, they had their first photo shoot challenge.
“They will be introducing the challenge winner on Monday, Feb. 1,” she said, “so this weekend is our official weekend that starts the filming of ‘Strut.’ On Saturday, they will finish up the photo shoot challenge. On Sunday, we get our first runway challenge practice for about four to five hours, then we do charity work for Strut Shares for about three hours, first episode viewing party at 4 p.m. when the first audition episode airs here in Arizona on AZTV Channel 13.
“On Monday we go live on the runway. This is when they give us our challenge and we perform it on the runway in front of a live audience, and then on to eliminations. This episode will then air on Feb.14, and every episode after will be aired every Sunday at 4 p.m.,” April said.
“I have never been on a reality show before,” she said. “I have appeared on television many times here in the valley, but this is the first time I will go on TV and put it into the producers’/directors’ hands to portray me as April Danzy to the best of their ability.
“When I sat down with the director he asked me who did I want to be on TV? To think of it as a rebirth. I said ‘I want to be me, myself!’ I want the world to know truly who I am as a person, not what people watching me on TV want or expect me to be. There are so many misconceptions about models and modeling, so you will definitely see me keeping it as real as possible.”