This is the second part of Ali’s story, courtesy of her mother Patty (tFS user modelmom). Ali’s journal chronicles the beginning of her modeling career in Paris at 15 years old (which was in 2002).

As we are looking around, a nice lady that speaks English approaches us and ask if we are lost. She asks if I’m a model and what agency am I with. She mentions her name but it means nothing to me and we find our way to the first casting of the day After a few more castings and a test we return to the agency to find out the lady we met was Ellen von Unwerth and she would like to meet with me the next day. We still have no idea who the lady is but my agent says that she is a very important photographer and to dress in something that makes me look older for our meeting.

I went to Ellen’s office the next morning. She took some Polaroids and asked if I was available to work on Thursday. The answer was no—because of the age thing. That was my only contact with the world-famous photographer.

In the afternoon we walked to another casting that we thought was close by, but we ended up at the wrong address. While we were backtracking we walked across a bridge over the Seine River and sat down to rest. I’m not sure where he came from but a horrible street person started harassing my mom till he had her in tears.

We couldn’t understand what he was saying, but he wouldn’t let my mom pass till he was finished with his rant.

I’m 15, my mom is hysterical and we have no idea how to get back to the agency. Are we having fun yet?

Once we get back to the agency, and my mom recovers from her scare, an agent goes with us to the Metro.  She explains how to get a pass and shows us on a map how Paris is divided up into districts that fan out from the center of the city. The next few days, in an endless amount of castings for shows which have to be on a certain day in order for me to work, I am instructed not to mention my age, and not to lie if asked.

I was asked my age a lot…not a good sign.

My Mom cooks a lot because eating out is so expensive, but all I want to do is curl up in my bed with the cat and sleep. I hate this place and want to go home.

We can’t go out at night because the streets are full of tourists (mostly male) visiting the sex shops and attending the performances at the Moulin Rouge. It is understood that if you’re in the streets, that you are a part of the scene, so we stay in our room and look out the window for entertainment. I still haven’t booked a job but I have two tests scheduled for the next day.

One of these is a casting for Dior. It has something to do with a hair ad in a magazine, and is supposed to be for a lot of money, but here’s the catch: they want to cut my hair short and dye it black.

I leave the casting to go downstairs to talk with my mom about it, but she can already see by the look on my face that it isn’t going to happen…

Part 3 coming soon.