Look like Sasha and Malia? You're hired!

February 13, 2009 7:48:43 AM PST
Even the typically impenetrable world of modeling isn't immune to the Obama-mania that's sweeping the country. Child modeling agents say they're being inundated with requests for models who look like Malia and Sasha Obama by companies that are trying to capitalize on the nation's fascination with the first family, which is also inspiring more girls to consider modeling as a career.

Amanda Blaire, the vice president of youth modeling agency Product Model Management in New York City, says she has seen a shift in the months after the election in what kind of models her clients are looking to book for ad campaigns.

"From the agency standpoint, there has been a huge change in what the demands are," Blaire told ABC News. "When we first opened [12 years ago], it was blonde hair, blue eyes and that was it."

Sandra Stollar of New York City, whose 9-year-old daughter Cailin is an aspiring model and actress represented by Blaire, says that having a black first family has made a huge difference to her daughter's self-esteem and career.

"I have seen a huge shift," Stollar said, "in what these agents want.

"They're looking for more kids who reflect what our society is about. They're not looking for the typical blonde child anymore."

Stollar, who says her daughter is half African-American and half Caucasian, said that her skin color has increased the number of booking calls she gets.

"She's booking jobs to represent Sasha Obama," said Stollar, who is now trying to capitalize on the phenomenon by starting a children's fashion line, Igloo Island, for tweens. "She's getting more jobs because she's different, she doesn't look like everyone else."

Cailin recently booked a gig on "Inside Edition," which shot her for a segment on the first daughters' fashion sense.

Cailin's agent, Blaire, said, "Obviously, there would be an occasional call for models of other ethnicities, but now the new craze is African-American kids."

Blaire said she saw the demand for black models surge after Election Day.

Black First Family Gives Black Models More Opportunities

"There is an abundance of calls coming in for models who look like Sasha and Malia," Blaire said. "African-American girls were always in demand but not nearly as much as they are now because of the new president."

Blaire says that while her boutique agency already handles between 400 and 500 models, ages newborn to 16, she plans to hold more casting calls than originally planned to try and recruit the kinds of models they're being asked to have on hand.

"We need to start accepting more kids who can play the roles of the Obama kids," Blaire said. "Even if we feel overwhelmed or don't want to take on more kids, we'll be more inclined to do so because of the demand."

While she declined to name her clients, Blaire said that several high-end fashion magazines have contacted her in the past month for young African-American models they can employ for spreads on the first daughters' fashion.

Marlene Wallach, the president of Wilhelmina Kids and Teens modeling agency in New York City, said she recently did a shoot for Harper's Bizarre magazine that posed Obama family look-alikes in the classic shot of John Kennedy Jr. hiding under his father's desk in the Oval Office.

"There have definitely been a lot of requests for models who resemble the Obama girls," Wallach said.

The head booker at kids' modeling agency FunnyFace Today in New York City, Charlie Winfield, said that he, too, has seen a shift in what even the most traditional companies are looking for.

"Companies that have notoriously catered more to white society are now becoming much more diverse," he said.

"They're more willing to accept black models because they've just elected a black president."

Young Black Models Draw on Obama Girls for Inspiration

The same agents who say they've seen an influx in demand for black models say they've also seen more young black models showing up to casting calls.

These young models, they say, are dressing and appearing more like the first daughters and speaking openly about how Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, have inspired them to enter the world of modeling.

"It's incredible," said Winfield, who spends a lot of his time traveling around the United States scouting for fresh faces. "Kids [who look like the first daughters] are coming out of the woodworks.

"We're getting girls all over the country who look like the Obama girls and say they're interested in it because it's an avenue that's just recently opened up to them and that they said they'd never thought about doing before."

Looking Up to Sasha and Malia

And at a recent seminar held to inform parents about the industry, Blaire said she saw several girls who wouldn't typically be interested in attending the information sessions.

"There were a lot of kids in the audience who wouldn't normally be considered as models, some girls that were a bit quirkier or heavier or just different," Blaire said.

"One of them happened to look just like Sasha Obama, so when she raised her hand, I told her that," Blaire said.

"And she responded, 'That's why I'm here.' I thought that was pretty cool," Blaire said.

"These kids are looking up to Malia and Sasha and they're inspired."

Story from: abcnews.com

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