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, six-foot-one 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.”
The 25-year-old did find one show idea she liked down there — one in which she would train to become a Victoria’s Secret model, a longtime goal of hers — but it didn’t work out.
And then she met the producers of E’s new original Canadian series “Brave New Girls,” which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.
Talackova said she wanted to star in the reality series because it’s Canadian and offered the chance to move from Vancouver to Toronto 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.”
“We’re not in medieval times anymore. Everyone’s different and just to accept it.”
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, and just to see that we’re all just regular girls trying to make it.”
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.
“This is just such a little problem with what transgendered women go through,” said 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.
“My good friend (transgender actress) Laverne Cox was recently on the Katie Couric show and she was just brilliant. She was talking about all the injustice going on with transgendered women and all the hate crimes, all the murders every other day in America, and that’s really what matters,” added Talackova.
“Me getting discriminated against when it comes to finding an apartment is so little compared to what’s like really going on with transgendered women. So I just hope that we can keep shedding light on these kind of issues.”
Talackova admits she’s been uncomfortable with being identified by the word “transgender” in the past, and she doesn’t want it to be her “hook” as she tries to make it in show business.
“But through this show it kind of made me comfortable with who I am, and if I can help one person, then I’m living my purpose,” she said. “It’s not that I don’t want to be associated with it, it’s part of my life, I just think I’ve worked so hard to transform myself.
“I just had to learn to realize that the public, what a person doesn’t understand they usually become scared of.... I’ve got to realize that by telling my story, exposing my life, that I’m making it socially acceptable for all the younger women, transgendered women out there, and anybody.”
“Brave New Girls” will also see the stars travel to New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Talackova said viewers will also get to see her dating a guy she’s interested in.
She says her relationship status is “all over the place” these days as she finishes her holistic nutrition studies in Vancouver.
She also hopes to one day publish a beauty guide book and wants to model for Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret.
And she’s hopeful for a second season of “Brave New Girls.”
“I’m OK with opening up about what I’ve been through, how I’ve transformed myself, because people usually are interested in my genitalia and whatnot, and I’m OK with that,” she said.
“As long as they come to me in a respectful manner and they’re coming from a place with integrity, then I’m OK with exposing it all and telling them my story.” 10 p.m., E! Canada