Kids Undergo Extreme Hollywood Makeovers for a Shot at Stardom

Kids hope photos of their celebrity transformations will get them discovered.

March 13, 2014, 3:18 PM

March 14, 2014— -- Inside a posh New York City studio, a team of stylists work to turn a 8-year-old girl into the perfect Madonna lookalike. Nearby, another little girl was getting made up to look like Katy Perry. Another would become Taylor Swift, and another would transform into Cyndi Lauper.

Playing dress-up used to involve princesses or superheroes, but today, kids are dressing up as pop stars.

These pint-sized models, both boys and girls -- some of whom are still in kindergarten -- are going to extremes to pay homage to the stars they adore.

Call it "stage kids 2.0" -- the youngest generation chasing fame.

"I started modeling at age 2 and a half, so I've been in it," said JP Vanderloo, now age 8.

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They flock to photographer Tricia Messeroux, who transforms kids into pint-sized doppelgangers of Hollywood stars. She and her team of stylists will study red carpet looks from major awards shows -- The Golden Globes, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Grammys, the Oscars.

"We are watching the red carpet so we are trying to see who's going to show up," Messeroux said, "[or] if they have a funky pose and all that creative stuff I'm looking for."

The team dresses the young models in hand-stitched copies of red carpet fashions, and designs the kids' hair and make-up to match signature celebrity looks. Messeroux takes pictures of the kids done up in their Hollywood glam and has them mirror poses from their celebrity twin. Messeroux posts the photos of the kids side-by-side with their Hollywood doppelgangers on her website, "Toddlewood."

Parents hope the photos give their kids more exposure and boost their chances of getting discovered, which is why they do it for free. Even if it is a long shot at fame, Messeroux's glossy images have gone viral on BuzzFeed and "Access Hollywood."

"We are getting requests from every which direction, from Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, I mean people from everywhere are sending me emails," Messeroux said.

This might seem like a familiar tale we've seen played out in reality shows such as "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Dance Moms," where families will do anything to be in the spotlight. But these makeover sessions are less about the stage moms, and more about the stage kids.

"My daughter is the one driving me," Heather Kirk said. "That's her passion. She was dancing at 18 months around the house and was clapping. I realized that's what they like to do. I enrolled her, she's been dancing since."

Kirk's daughter Erin, who is now 6 years old, was selected to undergo an extreme makeover to be turned into Katy Perry.

"Erin is full of sass," she added. "She loves her independence. Confident little girl."

Getting selected to model for Messeroux is very competitive. Erin beat out 300 other kids for just 12 spots for a recent photo shoot.

While they were getting made up, the kids also seemed to be carefully plotting their next career move.

JP Vanderloo, who has a love for acting, said getting made up in Messeroux's studio to look like Robin Thicke was like "getting to know your character and your character's personality."

But is this all harmless dress-up or something more troubling? Everyone seemed convinced that fame was just a selfie-click away, but many parents said they were just following their kids' lead.

"As long as he loves doing it and I can be there to supervise and my husband's there, and we know what's going on every single minute, then we feel like its fine," said JP's mother, Michelle Vanderloo. "It's under control and so, if we start to see any issues, then were going to make changes really quickly."

But are these stage kids sacrificing a carefree childhood in a rush to be famous? They didn't seem to think so.

"It feels good," said a young Cyndi Lauper lookalike, as she fixed her red lipstick.

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