Downey Latina chasing her dreams

DOWNEY - "American Idol" isn't the only hit television show to feature a rising star from Downey.Former Miss Downey Princess Jennifer Andrade is competing on the current season of "Nuestra Belleza Latina," a Spanish-language beauty competition - "with a reality TV twist" - now airing on‚ÄàUnivision. Andrade left for tapings in Miami on March 1, family members said. On the show, Andrade is competing with 12 other young women for $200,000 in cash and a contract with Maybelline Cosmetics. The winner will also become the Latin American spokesmodel for JCPenney, work as a TV personality on Univision, and win a new car. The show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. Similar to "American Idol," one contestant is voted off every week by members of the public, who cast their vote via phone or text message. Andrade has survived two eliminations and is now among the Top 10 finalists. Family members credit Andrade's drive and talent for her success. "Jennifer embodies intelligence, grace, beauty and, above all, perseverance," Kenia Andrade, Jennifer's sister, said. "I am blessed to have such a compassionate and talented sister in my life and am thankful that she has been able to covey her talent to viewers across the nation." Andrade, 20, attended Gallatin Elementary, East Middle School, and graduated from Downey High School in 2006. She made Downey High's varsity cheer squad as a freshman and also played JV water polo. In 2004, Andrade competed for Miss Teen Downey -- her first pageant competition -- and was named a Princess. She was a Miss Downey Princess two years later. Andrade also won Miss Michoacan de California in 2008, held in Mazatlan, Mexico; was first runner-up in Miss Latina de California 2009 (also wining Miss Photogenic); and made the top 10 in the Miss Turismo Latino International 2009 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. After attending Long Beach City College, Andrade transfered to UCLA where she is majoring in Communications, family members said. She worked as an entertainment reporter last summer on the Telefutura show "Escandalo TV," producing daily segments on tabloid gossip. She has also worked as a print and swimsuit model, and has been booked on national Spanish commercials and infomercials. Since she was chosen to compete on "Nuestra Belleza Latina," Andrade has been living in a Miami mansion, and is not allowed to communicate with family or friends. Meanwhile, her family is asking the community to support Andrade with their votes on Sunday. "My family and I‚Äàforsee a bright future for Jennifer since we have always believed that the basic success orientation is having an optimistic future," Kenia Andrade said. "We will sustain our beliefs with hopes that Jennifer can cotninue to exhibit her passion until the final show."

********** Published: April 17, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 52

FeaturesEric Pierce