Jaslene Gonzalez was born on May 29, 1986, in Puerto Rico, but she grew up in a suburb of Chicago. After attending Notre Dame High School for Girls, she went on to become an online college admissions adviser before modeling caught her attention (and everyone else’s).
Jaslene Gonzalez had always dreamed of being a model, posing in front of mirrors and idolizing supermodels like Gisele Bundchen. She soon signed with Avant Garde Models, working in small runway shows for Chicago-based designers like Michelle Gomez and Alexis Arquette, and also appeared in Extra and La Nota, a few local newspapers. Meanwhile, when she was 16, a new show called America’s Next Top Model had premiered on TV. Jaslene has said that she used to revere the show, telling her family that when she was old enough, she wanted to try out for it herself.
Jaslene Gonzalez also found herself in a relationship that was abusive, something she later admitted in an interview with Seventeen magazine. Fortunately, she got out of it before appearing on ANTM.
In February 2007, Jaslene Gonzalez tried out for Season Seven of America’s Next Top Model and made it, climbing all the way to the semifinals before being eliminated that May. Host and judge Tyra Banks, as well as the other judges (including former model Twiggy, photographer Nigel Barker and runway coach J. Alexander), urged Jaslene Gonzalez to try out for Season Eight, which she did.
During the next season of ANTM, Jaslene Gonzalez became the second model to never be in the bottom two, and she went on to win the show over model-hopeful Natalia “Natasha” Galkina. Her prize included a modeling contract with Elite Model Management, a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl and coverage in Seventeen magazine.
Following her monumental win, Jaslene Gonzalez immediately had appearances on Live With Regis and Kelly, TRL, The View. She modeled for the New York Post, US Weekly, and In Touch Weekly, as well as Seventeen, Latina, Hombre, Time Out, Splendor, and JamRock.
In 2007, Jaslene Gonzalez was nominated for a Teen Choice Award, and she got her very own billboard in Times Square.
In May 2008, Jaslene Gonzalez signed to Elite Model Management’s New York, L.A and Miami divisions. She also worked at New York Fashion Week, strutting her stuff for Jose Duran, Indashio, Farah Angsana, and Custo Barcelona.