Reneé Tenison

Reneé Tenison


Caldwell ID USA


5' 6"

Playmate of the month

November 1989

Playmate of the year


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Growing up in the small town of Melba, Idaho, Reneé Tenison’s parents worried about the difficulties their family would face. “My mom, who is white, and my dad, who is black, met each other in the Fifties,” explains Reneé. “They had to go to Nevada to get married, because no one would marry them in Idaho.” Though blacks were a minority in Idaho—according to Reneé, about three thousand in a population of over one million—Miss Tenison never let anyone’s prejudices get in her way. She’s a born role model, and always conducts herself with affability and pride. “Things were better by the time I was growing up,” she says. “I’ve had to learn to be nonjudgmental about people. I guess I’m bright-eyed and innocent in a lot of ways. I always look for the best in people, rather than the worst.” As the child of one of Idaho’s first interracial marriages, Reneé was bound to break the mold—and at 21, she did just that, becoming our Miss November 1989 and our Playmate of the Year 1990. Reneé was beside herself—not only was she PMOY, but she was Playboy’s first-ever African-American Playmate of the Year. The honor was not lost on Miss Tenison, who was deeply moved and touched by her win. “I can’t believe what’s happened,” she said of her win. “I’m very proud, but it’s hard to get used to. I mean, the last thing I ever won was a track event in high school back in Idaho. It’s a long way from there to Playmate of the Year.” Miss Tenison knows her upbringing and her family made her the person she is today. Her parents taught her to do whatever she loved with dignity and grace, even if it meant being frowned upon by some. “Playmate of the Year is exciting, but there’s responsibility, too,” explains brown-eyed Reneé. “When you’re different, you can’t afford to make mistakes. I want to present Playboy as well as I can. I’m not Vanessa Williams; there are no skeletons in my closet.” Reneé went on to pursue an acting career—you’ve seen her on Family Matters, The Fresh Prince and L.A. Heat, and she and twin sister Rosie made a memorable turn in Chris Rock’s CB4. Sexy, classy and unfailingly elegant—Reneé truly embodies everything a Playmate of the Year should be.