MANATEE COUNTY — A few weeks ago, Willis Elementary third-grade teacher Laurie Rahn was flipping through the mail when she found the 2010 Walt Disney Vacation DVD.
Rahn quickly separated the ad from the rest of the stack. And although a weekend getaway to Orlando sounds perfect, that’s not the reason why she’s keeping the promo piece.
Rather, she’ll place it in the growing file of daughter Ally’s modeling accomplishments.
For about a year, Ally, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Nolan Middle School, has been working as a model with Ford Models’ Miami office. To date, she has appeared in a half-dozen commercials and nine print advertisements. In addition to Walt Disney World, Ally has worked for Bright House Networks, Busch Gardens, Aquatica Water Park at SeaWorld, Beall’s, Adventure Island and more. Next month, she will be one of the featured models in Justice clothing company’s spring catalog.
“I love all the new experiences,” Ally says of her modeling gig. “Everything is such an adventure in every way. I’m very lucky.”
The Rahns entered the business at the urging of East County-based film producer Kip Radigan, who had cast Ally in one of his upcoming films, “A Fonder Heart.”
Almost on a whim, Laurie, also a photographer, snapped some photos and brought them to Ford. The company signed Ally to an exclusive contract in November 2008, and within one month, she was working her first shoot — a catalog for Italian clothing company Calzedonia.
“For that shoot, she was working with models from Denmark, Hungary and Italy,” Laurie says. “She was learning all this Italian from a real Italian person. To me, this (modeling) is giving her life lessons she wouldn’t be getting (otherwise).”
Although Ally is relatively new to the modeling scene, she is no stranger to the spotlight. She has been a student at the Diane Partington Studio of Classical Ballet since 2002 and has performed in productions of “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker.” This year, she will perform as Clara in the Christmas classic.
Ally says the work ethic she learned under Partington has helped her endure the grueling hours modeling requires.
Take, for example, the shoot for Aquatica Water Park by SeaWorld, Orlando, earlier this year. The gig was an 11-hour day that included climbing the same 95 stairs just to ride the same waterslide so many times that it zapped the fun right out of it.
But, while some of the other hired children may have complained, Ally soaked it all in — knowing full well she has the greatest job in the world.
“Why would I complain?” she asks. “It’s awesome. I’m getting to do things that not a lot of 11-year-olds get to do.”
Ally also has performed with Asolo Repertory Theatre, Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, the Sarasota Opera and the Manatee Players.
Laurie has remained decidedly hands-off about Ally’s budding career. Her job is to procure directions and get her daughter to and from the gigs. Outside of that, it’s Ally’s work, and she can choose to quit at any time.
The one caveat, she says, is that Ally must maintain her grades. To date, Ally only has missed three days of classes and currently is a straight-A student.
“Clearly, she can handle it,” Laurie says.
Ally says she hopes to go to a prestigious school such as Princeton or Harvard and eventually become a veterinarian.
“I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 5 years old,” Ally says.
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
Although Disney World, Bright House Networks and many other companies now have recognized Ally Rahn’s talent in front of a camera, her first published modeling job was for the cover of The East County Observer’s Back-to-School Guide in August 2008.
Ally Rahn will portray Clara in the Diane Partington Studio of Classical Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” this year.
WHEN: 7 p.m., Dec. 19, and 1:30 p.m., Dec. 20
WHERE: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota
TICKETS: $27 for adults; $16 for children ages 10 and under
PHONE: 366-8450, Ext. 1