‘A Model Life’: Behind the Glitz of the Modeling World

It’s a dream for so many young American women – the mystique, the money, the fame of a model’s life in New York City. But so few actually make it, and fewer yet become the next Tyra, Heidi or Gisele.

Model scouts Jeff and Mary Clarke, who run Mother Models Management, spend their days combing the streets of rural America looking the next supermodel — they’re the ones who  discovered Ashton Kutcher in a bar in Iowa in 1997.

The couple plucked four girls from obscurity to give them a shot at “a model life.” “Primetime Nightline” follows these four girls through their journey from America’s heartland to New York City. Two will make it, and two will be sent home.

Behind the glitz and glam is a darker side of being a novice model: living on a shoestring budget, the emotional and physical pressures of maintaining a certain body type, relentless competition and, in some cases, a loss of freedom. 

Here is a little preview of these young aspiring models.


Ehren Dorsey -- Credit: Mother Model Management

Ehren Dorsey: A few months ago, 19-year-old Ehren Dorsey from St. Charles, Mo., was working as a maid – cleaning homes and struggling with money. She drove an old pickup truck, wore combat boots and lived with her dad –  until she was scooped up by Mary and Jeff Clarke. Now Ehren lives in New York City and has a chance to walk for Calvin Klein. “I am just so lucky to be here,” she said. “I’ve cried, I swear to God, I’ve cried like five times.” But shortly after starting her career, Ehren is still broke and said she was uncomfortable with posing nude. 


Haley Wheeler -- Credit: Courtesy Mother Model Management

Hayley Wheeler: After hounding Mary and Jeff Clarke since age 13, Hayley Wheeler — now 16 — finally gets the chance to move out of the tiny town Chardon, Ohio, and go to New York City to pursue her modeling dreams. Sixteen years old, Hayley has become so successful she is finishing high school online and has put off college. Although Hayley shares a twin bed with her mother in a tiny model apartment and works out constantly to maintain her figure, she said she is living the dream.  


Gwen Carrier -- Credit: Courtesy Mother Model Management

Gwen Carrier: The girl from Anamosa, Iowa, who once loved to show her cattle at state fairs now dreams of being a Victoria’s Secret model. Mary and Jeff Clarke discovered 18-year-old Gwen Carrier at an American Eagle store when she was 13, and she already has to lose inches off her waist before she can land modeling jobs in New York City. “I just got done working out,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder to lose weight and inches. It’s stressing me out.”  


Malia Greiner -- Courtesy Mother Model Management

Malia Greiner: Jeff and Mary Clarke discovered 15-year-old Malia Greiner at a Cheesecake Factory in Urbandale, Iowa. Now an aspiring model, Malia struggles to stick to a bare-bones diet and spends hours at the gym to meet weight and measurement requirements. “I’ve been taunted with food so much at my school, calling me names like ‘skeleton’ because they know I’m working out and know I’ve lost weight,” she said. “I just tell them to leave me alone because they don’t realize everything I have to go through to accomplish what I want.”


Primetime Nightline’s Celebrity Secrets special, “A Model Life” airs on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10/9c on ABC

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