Though she’s posed for Playboy and plays for MTV’s National Lingerie Football League, Tanyka Renee insists that she’s not just another pretty face. The 5’8 ft, 25-year-old model is also a holistic nutritionist and Ayurvedic practitioner. Though shy at times, Tanyka is aware that center stage is where she belongs and with the notoriety she’s garnered thus far there’s no turning back.
Tell us about your love for football.
I’ve been a football fan since I was eleven years old. Growing up as a tomboy in New Britain, Connecticut, sports came naturally to me. So when the Lingerie Football League started up, I couldn’t wait to try out for the Philadelphia Passions. Only 20 girls out of 200 where chosen to play and only 14 out of the 20 are active so it’s a pretty big deal. My teammates are all professional athletes, some who compete in the Olympics and others who play semi-pro sports in Canada.
How do you feel that women of color are represented in the print media – ads and magazines?
Woman of color are represented all different ways in media but it’s cooler nowadays just to idolize our bodies. I always get pressure to show my curves at photoshoots. I don’t mind showing it because I invested in body. I eat healthy and workout….but I also invested in my mind and my community around me. I’m much more than just a body. I feel like it’s no longer cool to be healthy, volunteer or further your education. Girls of color no longer have positive role models because it’s very rare that you see woman of color doing these things in print media. I’m not perfect but everyday I try to be a better person not only for myself but also for my little sisters and the other little girls that look up to me.
What it was like posing for Playboy. Was there anything interested you learned about yourself or about Playboy Mag during the shoot?
I had fun shooting for Playboy, staying at the mansion and meeting Hugh Hefner. It was a great experience! Shooting the spread was a learning experience. I was so blinded by the opportunity to be chosen as a woman of color that I didn’t realize how I would be viewed after. I realized this when I was organizing a charity event to raise funds for juvenile diabetes. One of the parents found one of the pictures from my spread online and confronted me. Although my shoot was very tasteful and implied nude she was very upset. I than began to realize that many people are quick to judge a book by a cover and put labels on people so I have to be very careful about the image that I put out into the public. Playboy has opened a lot of doors for me and probably closed some. I just pray that people just don’t know me for Playboy but more for my message of health, fitness and helping others.
What is an Ayuredic Practitioner? What advice can you offer based on the Ayuredic approach?
As soon as I finished college, I quickly found my calling in health. I have always been into being healthy. So I became a holistic nutritional counselor. I then started studying Ayurveda which is an ancient Indian form of medicine. It uses your senses, nature, exercise, food and meditation to help a someone reach their personal goals. I try to help people reach a healthy balance in life. Life isn’t about dieting or denying yourself certain things but about moderation.