Is she the It Girl?

Jennifer Franco

PHOTO BY Rachel Bush

During her study-abroad trip in Spain in 2012, then-Chico State student and Williams native Jennifer Franco began reconsidering the traditional “corporate” world that awaited her after graduation. Dreaming of working in the entertainment industry instead, she searched online and found America’s It Girl, a new televised modeling competition for women produced by cable channel WEtv. After an application process and interview in Beverly Hills, Jennifer garnered a spot in the competition, among 200 other women from the West Coast. For the past year, she’s attended It Girl filming events in San Francisco and Los Angeles, while finishing her double major in business administration and health sciences in Chico. Next week, the recent grad will make her way back to L.A. for the final round of competitions, and possible title of “It Girl,” with prizes that include cash, a modeling contract and a scholarship to acting school.

How did you feel going into the audition?

It was exciting. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, so I went in with an open mind. The judges asked me why I wanted to be a part of it and I told them because it was a new experience and opportunity to make a brand for myself.

Tell me a little about the format of the show.

I’ve been involved in the competition for a year. Since then, there have been red carpet events and networking events that competitors can attend. Next week is the ultimate round of the competition, when the judges narrow it down from 200 to 20 to the winner. There will be an interview round, and then modeling our gowns that were designed for us. Then they’ll turn all of that into a 12-episode series that’ll premiere later this fall.

Do you have any performing experience?

I’ve never been on TV, I’ve never done a pageant … I’ve never really performed for people. It’s all new and exciting, and I’m scared! [Laughs] There are some girls in the competition who have a lot of experience and connections in L.A. So it’s tough, but I’m not letting it hold me back. The show’s brand new, too, so they’re still figuring it out as they go.

Your nickname for the competition is Miss Chico. Did you get to choose that?

Yeah. The show lets you represent any title you want. I could have represented a business or a hobby or a town. There’s a girl who’s Miss Army, there’s a Miss Hollywoodland. I chose Miss Chico, because I’ve lived here the last five years; it’s where I’ve done most of my community service. It’s become a big part of me. I like the way that this community is so close-knit and involved.

What do you want to do with the title?

Getting that scholarship to acting school would be great, because becoming an actress is my next goal. Aside from the prizes, I’d hope to use my title to give back and inspire people, especially women, that coming from a small town shouldn’t hold you back. Going into this competition, the creators said it wasn’t just about beauty, looks and fashion … they want us to be actively involved in our communities. I was before the competition and want to continue to afterward.