American model, actress, and television host Adrienne “AJ” Janic, gained prominence through her hosting stints in automotive reality television shows specifically from the Discovery Channel’s popular series called “Overhaulin.” Her experience with the series helped her gain a loyal fan base, and equipped her to become an efficient host to various car annual events and other TV shows. She eventually became one of the most recognized faces in the automotive world.

Who is Adrienne “AJ” Janic?

With her good looks and wit, most people thought that everything that she accomplished in life was handed to her on a silver platter, but it wasn’t true. She said, ‘If you want something in this world you have to work hard to get it.’ Her journey to a successful career was marred with rejections and muddled with detours, which eventually led her to her rightful destination.

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Her childhood and family

Adrienne Janic of Serbian and Mexican descent, also known as AJ, was born on 25 July 1974, in  -Whittier, Los Angeles County, California to immigrant parents – her father was from Yugoslavia while her mother came from Mexico. It was after World War II that her old man fled from his country and went to the US to seek a better life; to prove his worth and loyalty, he enlisted in the US Army. Her mother had a difficult time looking for a job, but through hard work she became a registered nurse. Her father became an aerospace engineer after he was honorably discharged from the army, and AJ was well taken of and had a happy childhood in a middle-class community from a town mostly known for being founded by the Quakers.

Said no to college and was supposed to enlist in the Army

Being an overachiever in high school, such as graduating with honors as well as being a cheerleader and an officer in the student government, everyone around AJ thought she would carefully pick a university and earn a bachelor’s degree, but she never took that route. At that time, she preferred to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve in the US Air Force after having a conversation with recruiters. Her parents were puzzled when she suddenly told them that she changed her mind and wouldn’t be joining – apparently, she met a photographer at a supermarket, who asked if she wanted to participate in a modeling contest. Initially, her parents weren’t supportive of her decision but when they saw how serious she was at 17, her father accompanied her to the event; she won third place. She made rounds in several local modeling competitions, and some photographers advised her to go to Los Angeles if she wanted to explore more modeling options.

Became a Ford Model

AJ went to L.A. and signed up with Ford Modeling Agency. Some people thought that she had it easy, but she faced many obstacles as she was only 5’9 in height and most brands wanted someone taller. She mostly did print ads, magazines, and commercials, although she also did some fashion shows. As a model, she found herself traveling out of the country for many projects that allowed her to do various things – ‘To see things people only read about in books, to try things most have never heard of, and to meet people from all cultures.’

Became an actress in Hollywood

AJ had always wanted to entertain people, and so gave Hollywood a try. As to what brought this shift from modeling to acting, she simply said, ‘I was sitting in my car after a particularly harsh audition when I decided I needed a change.’ Her first work was acting in commercials, and she did quite a lot of that just to be noticed. Eventually, she convinced producers and directors of her acting chops. She became a member of the Screen Actors Guild and landed supporting roles in a few independent movies. It wasn’t easy, so she also tried acting on TV, and booked parts in popular series such as “Angel,” “House,” and “Kitchen Confidential,” but nothing really made a mark to be considered a moderate success until she became one of the original Fantanas from 2002 to 2004. The soda brand, Fanta, created a group of girls to be their spokespersons by portraying characters. AJ became known as Leelee representing the pineapple flavor. They attracted a loyal following when they went around the country, as if they were a pop group and even landed a spread in Maxim magazine.

“Overhaulin’” and her seven seasons with it

Things just got better after her exposure as one of the Fanta girls, as more opportunities were opened to her. Her biggest break came when she heard that an automotive reality TV show required actors who could help them pull a prank on their ‘victims.’ She once had an experience working with a hidden camera show called “Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” so she was a natural when she got the part.

What was “Overhaulin” about?

Automobile designer Chip Foose headlined the reality series called “Overhaulin.” To offer something different to millions of car enthusiasts, the premise of the TV show was that Chip and his team would choose an unsuspecting victim (mark), the car owner from thousands of submissions sent by viewers, and have their car overhauled for free, excluding local and state taxes.  To ensure that it would come as a surprise to the “mark,” the team used several creative methods to pull an elaborate prank on them. It was the only way to hide a car for a certain period of time from the owner. Most of the time, they made it appear that it was stolen, towed, or lost. The bigger the prank, the better for Chip and his team, because it meant they had sufficient time to fix the car without any interruption.

How AJ became a part of the show?

When the reality series became popular and the faces of Chip Foose and his co-star Chris Jacobs became more recognizable, the prank was harder to execute – the production crew said that they needed actors to help pull them off. Since AJ’s husband, Bud Brudsman, was the executive producer of the show, she was asked to film for just one episode, because at that time the female co-host, Courtney Jansen, left the show to pursue other interests. However, it only took one episode for Chip’s team and the production crew to see that she was the perfect replacement for Courtney, so she was offered a regular spot in the show in 2005.

Didn’t know a thing about cars

When she joined “Overhaulin,” AJ confessed that she had zero knowledge about cars and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do her job efficiently; her interest in cars was limited to the one that she was driving. It was funny because at that time, she thought that her 1990 Toyota Corolla SR5 was the best out there. Everyone was happy to teach her, and they were all patient in showing her what they had been doing in the show. ‘When I first joined, I pretty much had to learn everything including the tools, many of which actually scared me.’

The producers assured her that she would be the voice of the people who, just like her, didn’t know anything about cars, and it worked. She was part of the series from 2005 to 2008 when it aired on TLC and then from 2014 up to 2015 when it was shown on Velocity/Discovery. She appeared again in 2019 when it was rebooted by MotorTrend. Granted that it was her husband who gave her the opportunity to be in it, but if the cast, especially Chip Foose, didn’t take a liking to her, she wouldn’t have lasted an episode.

Became a passionate gearhead

After spending seven seasons in the show, Chip and the team turned her into a gearhead. There were times AJ still couldn’t believe that she became part of a car restoration and customization crew. If not for the work ethic that she inherited from her hardworking parents, she would have been booted out of the series early on. She made sure she learned the restoration process step by step, and all the tools used in the shop. While everything seemed to intimidate her at first, the thirst to learn more about it overcame her fear.

Most people thought she was just eye candy in the show, but she proved to be more than that as she worked doubly hard by absorbing everything that went on in the shop. She came a long way from being a teenager, who was furious with the boy she dated back in high school because he was obsessed with cars. AJ said that the guy was probably thinking now, ‘She used to give me all kinds of crap for working on my car, and now she’s working on a car show.’

AJ’s life after “Overhaulin”

“Overhaulin” helped AJ’s career as she became more known. Opportunities came knocking at her door, and she pursued a career in TV hosting. Most of what she did after her contract expired with them was either automotive-related or fitness-related.

Lifestyle TV show featuring celebrities

AJ maintained a great, healthy physique and a positive mindset. She mentioned in a podcast that back in her modeling days, most of the recreational vices around her were offered for free, including drugs and alcohol, especially when she was in Europe, but she refused to indulge in them. She saw many people give in to the temptation, and the negative effect manifested not only physically but also mentally. Aside from being constantly reminded by her parents about it, she said that she spent so much money on her skincare that she wouldn’t let her skin suffer by doing drugs, so it was easy for her to say no to them.

In 2014, AJ hosted a TV series entitled “Fit, Famous, & Fabulous” with actress Brandi Glanville and hypnotherapist Eddie Vincent, and it lasted for a season. It featured some of the fittest supermodels, athletes, and actors as they all shared the best diets, beauty routines, and exercises that worked for them.

“Competition Ready” in 2016

With AJ’s extensive experience with Chip Foose on “Overhaulin,” she became Velocity’s ideal choice for co-hosting the reality series, “Competition Ready,” with certified car detailer Mike Phillips and his team of experts. It chronicled the lives of several top car builders around the US as they got their vehicles competition ready for the annual car conventions. The team even went to various competitions including SEMA BOTB, Legend Cup, Peterson Opening, and America’s Most Beautiful Roaster, as they rendered their services to those builders. The TV show made its TV debut on April 2016 and lasted for two seasons.

SEMA Battle of Builders in Las Vegas in 2018

SEMA, the super bowl of car conventions in the world, chose AJ Janic to co-host the Battle of Builders during the last two days of the annual event held in Las Vegas, Nevada with Tanner Foust in 2018. The show provided those registered participants with seminars, demonstrations, networking opportunities, and other special events. It was organized exclusively for car traders, and this meant that only those qualified people employed within the automotive aftermarket industry could enter the exhibition halls. While the general public couldn’t attend the event, they got to see everything that happened there, including the Top 40 builds, the finalists, the Grand Prize of the Year, and Builder of the Year via cable channels A+E Networks and History Channel.

A stay-home mom during the pandemic

When the Covid-19 virus spread globally, every industry was affected, and everything just closed down, so AJ went home to be with her son and husband in Calabasas. During those long months at home, her main job was to teach her son the lessons given by the school, and classes were held through zoom meetings. It was a difficult time for everyone, especially for kids who were being cooped up indoors. She listened to the zoom classes, and was devastated when she heard kids share that they were depressed when their teachers asked how they were doing. At that time, she wrote a scathing letter to the school hoping that they could do something about improving online classes, even if she knew how difficult the situation already was. It was interesting that when AJ was younger, she promised herself that she wouldn’t be a PTA mother or a soccer mom who would double her efforts to know everything that was happening to her kid in school, but she turned out exactly like that.

First time being a swimsuit endorser

AJ was excited to announce on her social media in the early part of 2022, that for the first time, after modeling for more than 25 years, she accepted a swimsuit endorsement for the brand Swimnista. During the peak of her modeling career, she never had the confidence to be part of a swimwear campaign. It boggled her mind that she finally found the courage to do it after getting older and having a son. AJ said that she wasn’t and still isn’t the typical swimsuit model, but she loved the idea of representing women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.

Acting on the side

While her main career now was more focused on TV hosting, she would sometimes play a character in a TV series or a movie. In 2022, she went back to acting and filmed a short comedy directed by Subramanya Kalal, posting on her Instagram, ‘I’m officially “back to my roots” in the scripted world and where it all started for me.’ AJ was also excited to join her co-actors during the promotion when the movie hit the festival circuit that year. This 2023, she accepted a part in the drama series, “That Secret That Binds Us,” and there were several short films she agreed to be a part of. While she said that it was intimidating to be back to filming as an actress, she’s now older and wiser so it made the journey a bit easier.

Personal Life

AJ had never been vocal about her marriage, particularly about her husband. Viewers knew that she was married to the former executive producer of “Overhaulin.” There were recent rumors that floated on online forums and social media that she might no longer be with her husband. She was quite particular with the posting of personal events in her life, and she would always use the words family in general when celebrating holidays, birthdays, and even vacations. The only exception was if she posted specifically about her son; she never mentioned her husband.

During an interview with her best friend Jennifer Gimenez and her husband Tim on the “Tim and Jenn’s Show” podcast on YouTube, aired in December 2020, Tim talked about Bud Brudsman but AJ never mentioned him in their conversation. At that time, they were talking about the pandemic and staying at home, but AJ only mentioned her son, and it made everyone curious about their situation. She never posted anything that indicated that she was already single, so her fans felt that she was just being private about it. No doubt there will be an update!

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