a friend from middle school recently got married in chicago. the event (along with a need for some random odds and ends) sent me to my 5×5 storage unit in illinois and deep into my two rubbermaid bins full of photographs. 4×6 images meticulously sorted into small manilla envelopes labeled and dated. endless prints from school dances, vacations, sleepovers, and unforgettable memories temporarily forgotten.
as i was searching for a couple photos of the bride and i together in our youth, i stumbled upon my old modeling portfolio. i don’t know if it was my idea or my mother’s, but at age six, i spent a day with photographer george papadakis sporting curls and polkadots and a pout that was surely put to good use in those early childhood years. a star was being born.
along with the excitement of getting professional composite cards made, my mom also enrolled me in barbizon modeling academy where they attempted to teach me some manners (and some modeling/acting pointers of course). as i walked across that stage on graduation day in my black floral one piece pants suit (complete with white dress shirt collar) and black chauffeur hat covering my twin french braids, i was bound and determined to become famous. i was sure that there was someone sitting in the audience who would hear my jif peanut butter commercial read through and hire me on the spot.
apparently, that’s not how it works.
instead, i spent endless days getting out of school early and driving the hour to chicago to audition for some random role. an easter fashion show for sears. a hand model for a children’s craft book. an extra for a company employee training video. sometimes i would get the part and sometimes i wouldn’t.
as i sat sprawled out on the pavement near the door of my storage unit, i flipped through all these images of my younger self and stumbled upon my big claim to fame.
it was a national ad campaign for gateway foundation. my photograph was used in their brochures, newspaper ads, billboards, and more.
now what is gateway foundation you ask? maybe, i’ll just let the pieces i found speak for themselves:
mom, seriously? you let me be the poster child for a drug rehab center at ten years old?! i hope you got some good money out of that one. i don’t recall ever seeing a cent of my earnings, but after the expense of my dance and college education, i will not hold a grudge. you’re welcome.
and on a more important note, mom, seriously? you let me rock a perm on a short bob with bangs?! i don’t think the 90s did anyone any favors when it comes to fashion.
despite all this, i am pretty sure that i had that pout mastered. totally look like a sad, drug-abusing adolescent. i wonder if all the people driving by the billboard in chicago bought into my anguish. if they could feel the hurt i felt deep within my ten year old heart.
and now, look where i am 18 years later… not on the cover of vogue, that’s for sure. wonder what it feels like to peak at 10 years old? let me tell you, it rocks. when you know your best work is behind you, you are free to revel in the downward progression of your glory years.
don’t worry though, i’ve helped “make hope a habit.”
(sorry for this seriously sarcastic post. i just had to share these priceless images.)