Yahoo! TV

'America's Next Top Model' Contestant's Mugshot Raises More Questions Than Answers

Yahoo TV

View gallery


Renee Alway's 2013 mugshot and looking happy and healthy in 2007. (Palm Springs Police Department / Getty Imag …

Renee Alway is the latest "America's Next Top Model" alum to be modeling a mugshot.

Arrested on June 28 for investigation of burglary, fraud, narcotics possession, and committing a felony while out on bail for separate charges, the Season 8 third place finisher became the latest ex-contestant in a heap o' trouble.

According to the Palm Springs Police Department, Alway, 27, was spotted lurking around the back of a condo building. The eyewitnesses then called in the cops, who found the ex-reality star armed with a gun — which, we're betting, is when her situation went from bad to worse. After a six-hour standoff, she was finally captured and currently remains in custody at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility with bail set at $150,000.

In her just-released mugshot, Alway appears badly battered and bruised, and absolutely nothing like her former glam self.

With Alway's latest foray to the police blotter, we got to thinking about "Next Top Model" messes and wondered if there might be some sort of trend.

"Shows that focus on beauty and physique such as "America's Next Top Model" often reinforce poor coping strategies such as food restriction and drug and alcohol abuse because those behaviors provide a competitive edge in the short term," Dr. Shannon Hanrahan, a licensed psychologist, explains to Yahoo! TV. "But the negative long term effects are not sufficiently managed. These issues are inherent problems within the modeling industry itself and are not limited to the reality based tv format."

Still, certain kinds of reality competition shows — especially ones where a distinct talent or skill like dancing or design are not what gets rewarded — can have a deeper effect.

"Reality shows that encourage competition that is not based on a skill but on personality or physical qualities seem to bring out the worst in their cast," Dr. Hanrahan explained. "They are competitive during the show and unhealthy behaviors are rewarded. Once the show ends for that person, they often lose their sense of identity and fight to get the attention back on themselves. This is often temporarily rewarded by public interest but it usually doesn't last long."

View gallery


Lisa D'Amato (Getty Images)

Alway is hardly the first former contestant on the Tyra Banks-helmed reality show to hit hard times. Lisa D'Amato, who appeared on Season 5 and later won the All-Star Season 17, quickly became as known for her alcohol-fueled televised antics (which included rants that could have peeled the paint from the walls) as for her stunning looks. After her cycle of the show ended, she found herself a new TV home — on "Celebrity Rehab 3."

Even on "Celebrity Rehab," D'Amato admitted that while she uses "almost any type of drug substance put in front of her" she still didn't feel she had a problem she couldn't control. Yikes!

Last September on a dramatic episode of "Dr. Phil," Jael Strauss, who competed on Season 8 of the show, revealed that after her stint on TV ended, she spiraled out of control and eventually became a homeless drug addict. At first, she first resisted the host's help — even after admitting that her meth habit had destroyed her good looks — and ended up running off stage and into the Paramount lot in tears. Only after coaxing her back in front of the cameras was Dr. Phil able to convince the 28-year-old to get treatment.

But did "Top Model" exacerbate her problems? That was the feeling of 2003 "ANTM" winner CariDee English, who argued that Strauss never should have been let on the show in the first place.

"[Execs] should have evaluated her a lot more before letting her on the show," English said. "All they saw was a personality good for television. Well, this hopefully will save at least her life and someone watching. Everything happens for a reason."

View gallery


Jael Strauss before and after ("Dr. Phil")

Executives from both the CW and Tyra Banks's camp could not be reached for comment.

English's accusation that the show's producers actively hunt for personalities that will make good TV isn't all that surprising — in fact, we're pretty sure that every single reality show does exactly that.

The difference here is that it seems Strauss wasn't just a colorful personality or an outspoken gal with some eccentric quirks; she was a fragile, hurting young woman who needed professional help. Just how obvious her issues were at the time of her casting is unclear.

"The kind of personality that does well on reality TV shows tends to be people who are dramatic, interesting, and have low impulse control," Dr. Jenn Berman, licensed psychotherapist and host of VH1's "Couples Therapy," tells Yahoo! TV. "When you add in celebrity and money to this personality, often times they tend to get themselves into trouble."

Still, Berman doesn't believe there's a direct correlation between reality shows and getting into trouble with the law. "I don’t think someone’s expectations of going into reality TV is necessarily connected to the outcome of getting arrested after the fact," she said.

See more Celebrity Mugshots:

View Comments