The teen modeling world can be a seductive business, especially for young girls with big dreams. But these days they're starting early, with some girls being recruited long before they're even out of high school.
Under the bright lights on the catwalk, they could be supermodels at the hottest fashion shows in Paris -- but in real life, they're just teenagers.
Yet, their lives could be changed in an instant if someone spotted something special about their look.
Anya Chekaukas was only 15 years old when she was approached by a talent scout who noticed her as she walked out of the local diner.
"He said, 'You have a very unique look. You are beautiful and come model for us,'" she said.
Chekaukas' mother, Lise Newman, agreed to go with her daughter to check out what the scout had to say.
"She called and she said, 'At lunch time I got this card from a scout. Can I please, please, please go?'" Newman said. "And so I said, 'Okay, we'll see what it's about.'"
To Chekaukas and her mom Newman, it was a dream come true.
"You just read about that happening to people, but I never thought that's how it would have happened to me," Chekaukas said.
A Life-Changing Call
In a matter of weeks, she went from a straight-A high school student and volleyball player to a potential supermodel heading to photo shoots in Chicago.
Modeling was something she had dreamed of doing since she was 11 years old and practicing her catwalk moves in front of her family.
Then one day, she got the call of a lifetime. Newman answered the phone.
"[My mom] said, 'You have been chosen to represent the United States in the supermodel international search,'" Chekaukas said. "I said, 'Oh my god. No way.'"
Katie Ford is the CEO of the legendary Ford Modeling Agency, which scours the world for new supermodels. The best girls are 5-foot-8-inches to 5-foot-11-inches, a size four and, of course, beautiful. Ford said Chekaukas fit the bill.
This year, more than 40 teens from around the world were brought to New York to compete to be the next supermodel. Chekaukas faced stiff competition.
"Denmark has incredible potential to work with designers and on the runway," Ford said. "Belarus has classic gorgeous beauty."
Watching her daughter at the dress rehearsal just hours before the big show, Newman was nervous, but she wasn't the only parent on pins and needles.
But is winning really the best thing for these girls?
"In the long run, I hope that she is not just a professional model," Newman said.
But none of that was on Chekaukas' mind during the competition.
"I do believe I have what it takes," she said. "I'm very passionate about it."
But it wasn't meant to be; the model from the Netherlands won.
For Chekaukas, the competition was a disappointment, but also a learning experience.
"I've grown a lot," she said. "I've learned how to walk … how to take photos better."
Tips for Aspiring Models
Ford has some tips for parents whose kids are aspiring models. First, their daughter does need to be at least 5-foot-eight-inches and a size four.
If modeling agencies are truly interested, Ford said, they'll arrange a photo shoot and pay for it. If you're asked to fork over cash up front, it's probably not legit.
If three separate agencies turn you down, it's probably a sign that modeling isn't for your daughter, according to Ford.