In 2017, Josie Canseco tried out for the Victoria’s Secret show for the first time — but her runway audition was less than perfect.
“I had one job, and that was to walk. I couldn’t even do that!” she said, remembering how she snagged her heel on a carpet and tripped. “I laughed it off, though. I’m really good at laughing at myself.”
While she didn’t make the cut, the upbeat blond model — the daughter of controversial former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco — impressed show executives enough to get a shot at the 2018 lingerie parade, which airs Sunday on ABC.
For this year’s audition, the 22-year-old came armed with more physical and emotional endurance, which was helpful during one particularly long callback when she and the other models were kept waiting for four hours.
Instead of being annoyed, Josie felt anointed.
“I was honored to be sitting there with all these girls. Everyone was so excited and rooting for each other and smacking each other’s butts. I was like, ‘I’ll sit here forever,’” she said.
She burst into tears when her agent told her she was officially on the roster. The newly minted VS model then called her mother, her boyfriend and, lastly, her father.
Back in the 1980s and early ’90s, her Cuban-born dad, Jose Canseco, was one of the biggest stars of Major League Baseball, collecting accolades like American League Rookie of the Year in 1986 and AL MVP in 1988 — a year before his team, the Oakland A’s, won the World Series. He was a six-time All-Star and such a prolific home run hitter that he and teammate Mark McGwire earned the nickname “Bash Brothers.”
He also had a bad-boy rep off the field, having been arrested for reckless driving, weapons possession, domestic violence against Josie’s mom (his then-wife, Jessica), aggravated battery in a bar fight and probation violations. The former outfielder retired in 2003, a couple years after he barely played for the Yankees during what he called “the worst time of my life.”
Things only went downhill from there. In his 2005 memoir “Juiced,” he notoriously admitted taking steroids and outed other players, including McGwire, for doing so as well. After its publication, Jose claimed to have received death threats. In 2008, he lost his Encino, California, home to foreclosure. That same year, he was sentenced to 12 months’ probation on a drug charge. In 2012, he declared bankruptcy. Today, he lives in Las Vegas and continues to sporadically play for independent league teams.
“I love my dad and I am proud of where I come from,” Josie said. “Growing up, there was a lot of pressure to live up to certain expectations and money as if I was rich and stuff. It was a bit of a façade. I didn’t want people to know the struggle because it was out of my power — for example, the bankruptcy or [times] he was arrested.”
The only child of Jose and cosmetic tattoo artist Jessica Canseco, who were married from 1996 until 1999, Josie was raised in Los Angeles. A trained dancer, she attended a performing-arts school and casually took up modeling as a young teen, posing for brands like Kohl’s and Hollister. When she turned 17, she signed with Next Models, which sent her to New York City. When she moved, her father dished out financial advice.
“It’s public news my dad was up and down financially,” she recalled. “He was like, ‘Josie, I’m telling you, don’t blow all your money and think you need a [pricey] bag.’”
Initially, she lived in a cramped model apartment.
“A lot of models say you aren’t a real model unless you’ve lived in a model apartment with six or seven girls,” said Josie.
“[Inevitably,] there are some girls are doing drugs, some are cooking fish at 7 a.m., stinking up the whole place, and there are cigarettes. You have no privacy, which is tough. But it’s how I had to start.”
Around that time, she found a grounding influence: rapper Mike Stud, né Michael Seander, whom she met at the Los Angeles lounge On the Rox.
Seander, now 30, graduated from Duke and Georgetown and, like Josie’s father, played baseball, albeit at the college level.
“He’s so smart and intriguing,” Josie said of her boyfriend. “He gives me a sense of motivation and ambition.” In October, the pair celebrated her 22nd birthday vacationing in the Bahamas.
“This is, [I’m] 99 percent [sure], the guy I am going to end up being with for the rest of my life, which is crazy to think about because we’ve been together since I’m 18,” she added.
But before marriage, Josie has more to accomplish.
“I think having an American Vogue cover would be incredible,” said the model, who has already walked the runway for fashion brands Kith and Moschino. After bouncing between New York and Los Angeles for the last few years, she’ll soon be renting an apartment full time in Gotham. This time, she won’t be sharing it with a bunch of models, but she embraces her salad days.
“I’m so grateful for everything I went through,” she said. “We learn from the hardships.”
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