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The exams come first for model schoolgirl

MEET the Dublin teenager who's aiming for the stars - but keeping her feet on the ground when it comes to school.

Lauren Owens is one of 12 girls chosen to compete in RTE's new reality series, the Model Scouts.

But the Leaving Cert student has no intention of slacking off on her studies.

So far, she's managed to juggle her hobbies, studies - and the competition.

"I'm doing well keeping up with homework, thankfully we filmed part of the show a few months ago because they want to keep the girls in school and college," says Lauren from Rush.

"I want to get good points for my Leaving Cert so I can study Event Management in Dublin."

The 17-year-old is hoping she'll be the one to win a modelling contract with the renowned IMG agency that represents Kate Moss, Julianne Moore and Lily Cole.

The determined teenager will pursue modelling even if she fails to join the ranks of supermodel Heidi Klum and Naomi Campbell, who are also signed to the top agency.

"I think I will have to go abroad if I don't get a contract with IMG because certain types of models wouldn't be successful in Ireland -- the modelling industry here has a totally different outlook," the Loreto student said.

"A lot of Irish models you see in magazines do not look natural -- they wear fake tans, fake nails, hair extensions and sometimes have boob jobs.

"They're not the type of models that you'd see on a Chanel catwalk, and that makes me think that (I'd leave)."

CLASSIC The 5ft 9in brunette, who has won praise for her "classic" look, revealed she picked up tips from mum Sandra (40), who was also a model for a short while and now works as project manager for JP Morgan.

"My mum did modelling when she was around 17 or 18, she did some catwalk and some commercial photos too," Lauren said.

"I was always interested when she told me stories and I took everything she told me on board, but it was my decision to come forward for the television series."

Lauren admitted that IMG scouts Jeni Rose and David Cunningham really put the girls through their paces in the show which began this week on RTE2.

"It's not similar to America's Next Top Model and programmes like that, which can be unrealistic with all the different locations, but we do have tasks like catwalk shows and we do work with different photographers," Lauren said.

"It can be quite tough because we don't really know what we're judged on until we see it on television."