La’Maya James has big dreams of becoming America’s next top model, and the 6-year-old has already cleared one big hurdle to meet that goal.
Back in July, La’Maya took top prize at the Spoiled Fashionz Show contest in Hollywood for young models. Strutting down the runway with her signature backward-walk-then-twirl move secured La’Maya a modeling gig with California-based Envy modeling agency. She also received $1,000 in prize money and a professional photo shoot.
With headshots in hand, the second-grader, who attends LEARN CharterSchool, 1132 S. Homan in North Lawndale, will soon be auditioning for commercials and TV roles. For La’Maya, she is just exciting about visiting California.
“…While I’m down there, I could go see the Hollywood sign and then go to the beach,” she said.
La’Maya’s parents are pondering a possible move to California to further their daughter’s ambition. But they hope to find an agency here in Chicago to represent her, along with the California agency, to stay close to home. But her mother, Michelle James, couldn’t be more thrilled for the second youngest of their four children.
“We knew she could do it; we had confidence that she would win,” James said.
La’Maya’s modeling coach La Tonia Edwards, of Living Boldly 2 modeling school, also shared that confidence. Based in Gary, Indiana, Living Boldly 2 urged James to enter La’Maya into the online contest of Spoiled Fashionz, an upscale online consignment children’s store.
“La’Maya has a big personality on the runway,” Edwards said. “Behind the scenes she is a child who plays with dolls, but once she gets on the runway, she turns into that model. I knew that she was going to win. She just needed a chance.”
But winning the contest took some doing.
Twelve winners were selected via online votes, with the top two vote-getters getting free hotel accommodations for the California trip. James called and emailed everyone she could think of to vote for her daughter. The effort paid off with La’Maya among the top. To help defray the cost of their trip, James baked a ton of cupcakes and cakes.
“I was up till sometimes three in the morning,” she said.
Though 6 years old, La’Maya is very much an old pro doing runway shows, which she rarely practices for. Her mother says La’Maya’s is a quick study where her teachers only have to show her once and she’s got it.
“I do not practice, because I already know how to do it,” La’Maya says confidently.
“It comes natural to her,” her mother added.
And it’s not surprise. Modeling runs in the family. Michelle James used to model for Living Boldly 2 for nearly four years before enrolling her daughter there. When the agency decided to do a kids’ fashion show, James signed her daughter up when she was 3. She’s been with the agency ever since.
“I put La’Maya in and it was something that she loved to do,” James said.
Her daughter’s talent was evident when she won her first fashion show competition. She’s now won a year’s worth of modeling classes with Living Boldly 2. Her parents insist they weren’t surprised that their daughter took such an interest in modeling.
“Quite naturally any kid, if they are successful in something, tend to gravitate to that,” her father, Lorenzo James, said.
And La’Maya knows what it takes to be successful in the modeling business— it’s all about timing, she said. One must be able to change clothes in a minute-thirty seconds, she said. (It takes this reporter an hour to get dressed)
“If we get 30 seconds we can change in that many seconds,” she said confidently. As for one of her main tips to other aspiring models — practice your runway walk.
“You have to work on it,” La’Maya said.