Cheltenham student wins modeling competition
Wyncote native Ashley Lyles may seem like your average teenager, but she’s anything but. While many girls Lyles’ age dream of becoming models, Lyles is working hard to make her modeling dreams a reality.
A senior at Cheltenham High School, 16-yHDr-ROG LyOHV wDV nDPHG 0LVV 0RGHOing Association of America International July 1 at the MAAI competition held at the Independence Seaport Museum on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The competition was sponsored by John Roberts Powers, a performing arts academy, at which Lyles has been a student for the last year.
Lyles said she grew up watching “America’s Next Top Model” by Tyra Banks, but never thought about modeling until she encountered a representative from a modeling kiosk at a mall asking girls if they ever thought about modeling.
Lyles said she told her mom modeling was something she wanted to look into, and after a few weeks of searching, Lyles joined JRP.
“When I met with a JRP director for the firVW WLPH VhH DFWuDOOy VDLG VhH FRuOG VHH me doing very well in the future,” Lyles said during a recent interview. “Everyone was so friendly there and it was home at firVW VLJhW.”
It also didn’t hurt that many famous faces such as Motown sensation Diana Ross, super model Nikki Taylor and “American Idol” season one runner up Justin Guarini are all JRP alumni.
Lyles said that JRP taught her everything she needed to know about the modeling industry from social graces, to the correct way to wear makeup, to how to dress, acting skills, and lessons in runway and print modeling.
Wendy, Lyles’mother, said that Lyles was RnH RI 25 SrRPLVLnJ -R3 VWuGHnWV HOHFWHG WR compete in the MAAI competition.
“In the car, on the way to the competition, I said to my mom I know [the competition] is all about the experience, but I really want to win,” Lyles said.
And win she did. Lyles said she impressed the judges in the three areas of the competition: introduction, commercial and swimwear.
“I came up with a creative introduction; I talked about how I could be a role model for young African American girls through modeling,” she said. “My commercial, which I recited to the judges, was for an ‘Everyone’s Beautiful Barbie Doll.’ I talked about how every race and body type deserves to feel like a Barbie doll every day.”
Lyles said that in the swimwear category all the girls had to wear one piece swimsuit and were judged on the fit of the suit and their walk and gracefulness in the suit.
When she realized she won the competition, Lyles said she couldn’t believe it.
“Me and the other finalist were hugging backstage when they called her as the first runner up,” she said. “When they called her name, I went from a vertical position to just flapping over. I was shaking and crying.”
“… When she was called as part of the top two, of course the tears started coming,” said Wendy. “Then when they identified her as the winner, we were all so excited.”
As the winner, Lyles received a trophy for having the best commercial, a partial scholarship to the New York City Film Academy and an all-expense paid trip to New York to participate in the International Modeling and Talent Association convention.
Lyles said the IMTA convention will have more than 300 agents from all over the world, including Spain, Milan and Paris. She said that even if she doesn’t win anything she is just happy to get the exposure.
Lyles enjoys being in front of the camera, but she said she would like to study broadcast journalism in college and showcase her talents in a different way.
“I grew up watching the Tyra Banks talk show and my mom grew up watching Oprah. Tyra has helped girls with self-esteem and Oprah helps the entire world,” she said. “They are so inspiring. When I walk by billboards there are [rarely] any African Americans [featured] and when I flip through magazines they don’t have makeup tips for girls like me.
“Tyra does not have a show anymore and Oprah is getting old, so here I am ready to go. I want to be there to make other people happy and be someone for them to look up to, not just African American girls but all minorities.”
Cheltenham High School student Ashley Lyle, 16, was named Miss Modeling Assoication of America International July 1.