For the past six weeks we have been bringing you the candid diary of Ali Turner, courtesy of her mother Patty (tFS user modelmom). Ali’s journal has chronicled the beginning of her modeling career in Paris at 15 years old (which was in 2002).

Part 6 marked the end of Ali and Patty’s adventures in Paris, but not the end of Ali’s diaries. Starting next week, we’ll read about Ali’s experience in New York, which immediately followed the adventure in Paris.

This segment of ‘Becoming a Model’ is from the perspective of Patty Turner, detailing her struggle with the fashion industry during the early stages of Ali’s career.


In October of 2001 we had some pictures taken of Ali at a local studio. When the pictures came back, the photographer called us and wanted to meet. Ali and I went in to meet with him and he suggested we send Ali’s pictures into several agencies to see if we would get a response. I looked the addresses up on the internet and sent the pictures. They were professional portraits from a studio….not the Polaroids that most agencies want you to submit. I talked it over with Ali and her response was, “Why not”? We typed up a letter and enclosed the photos and pretty much forgot about it.

In November the phone rang and Ali looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Ford Models. They wanted her to come up the first part of January 2002 for an interview. It’s a 5-hour drive from where we live—a drive I would make many times in the coming months. They met with us, talked about how young she was, asked her to walk and signed her that day.

In February she went up for her first test shot. Ali, her sister Amy and I arrived at a hotel in downtown Chicago at 8:00 am and met with her agent and a photographer. There were 5 or 6 other girls there and he told Ali’s agent he wanted to shoot her last.

We sat around the apartment and he returned with the other girls around 11:00 am. Ali’s agent told Amy and I to stay at the hotel suite and that she would go with Ali to her shoot. By 6:00 pm, I was getting a little worried but Ali’s agent called to say that everything was fine. By 10:00 pm I was having a major panic attack. Amy called Ali’s agent and she said they were having a bite to eat and that they were almost done. They didn’t arrive back at the hotel till 2:00 am. No agent, just my 15 year old, the photographer and his crew. Amy and I had to work the next day so we drove back home.

On the way back I asked Ali which of her outfits she wore for the shoot. “None of them,” she said.

“Then what did you wear?”

“A man’s shirt, a bikini and a sheet,” she replied.

I lost it. I called the agency the next morning and said, “That’s it for Ali’s modeling career!”

They fed me this line of bull about how it was all done in good taste and that’s the way the fashion industry works and the pictures were beautiful and I bought the whole package like the fool I am. The pictures from that shoot are on Ali’s first comp card and the rest of them went in her book. The next day Ali was back in school.

She booked some commercial jobs in March and went up for a casting for an Armani runway show in April. She booked that job and we went up for the show in May. Ali always loved the runway part of the business and she was hooked on the idea of modeling after that show. They did a big write up in the local paper and it was on the front page. None of her classmates had really believed all her talk about signing with the Ford agency till they saw the article. Then she was everybody’s instant friend.

We spent two weeks in Chicago after school was out that summer going on castings, and doing some commercial work. I was always in the neighborhood or close by while she did her castings and jobs. I had learned my lesson the first time.  We spent several more weeks in Chicago in August and she shot a editorial for Spanish Marie Claire. When the photographer sent some pictures from the shoot to the agency, they called us in to talk about Ali going to Paris. They talked to Ali and I a long time about how important it was for her to go and that she would be able to have what she wanted by the time we returned to the States.

Ali was a horse fanatic from the time she could walk. She collected all the Breyer horses and sold a first edition Beanie Baby collection to buy her first horse. When they dangled the “cash” thing in front of her she didn’t hesitate. Her horse ranch dream was in reach.

The agency would front all her costs up front but I was on my own. I took a large part of my savings to finance the trip and took along a few credit cards just in case. Like Ali, I believed every word they said. In hindsight, I can’t believe I bought into all of it, but I did. In September of 2002 we were on our way to Paris…and you know the rest of that story.

Part 8, Ali in New York City, coming soon!