GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Say, you should be a model.
The 6-foot, slender-built Hannah Jolly had heard this before, but she never gave it much thought.
But when a friend suggested she try out for an American Eagle modeling competition in the summer of 2012, she decided to enter. Her mother snapped a few photos of her at the grandparents’ house in Port Huron.
The next thing the then-Brighton High School junior knew, her face was plastered on a Times Square billboard in New York City and in American Eagle stores across the country. In March, the company flew Hannah Jolly and her mother to Mexico for an eight-day photo shoot. She celebrated her 17th birthday in Mexico.
“It was really, really cool,” she told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
She said the Mexico photo shoot was a huge production with seamstresses working all night on outfits, and stylists and others working on her hair and nails.
She admitted her role was one of the best, with people asking if she needed anything.
“It was like pampering,” she said. “It’s kind of like you’re the center of attention for the eight days.”
She lives with her parents, Lynn and Dean Jolly, and her brothers, Zach and Mitchell, just west of Brighton in Genoa Township. She’s a Brighton High School senior, a varsity cheerleader, serves on student council and is involved with a mentoring program. She’s also a straight-A student.
After taking third place in the first round of the Project Live Your Life competition, Hannah Jolly was placed into an online competition with 80,000 people. She was one of 15 people selected.
Hannah Jolly said she loved visiting the small town of Sayulita, the site of the photo shoots. It’s on the Pacific Ocean west of Guadalajara.
“It was the prettiest place I’ve ever been,” she said.
She said every single wall is painted with murals.
“It’s surreal,” Lynn Jolly said.
She said family and friends from different parts of the country have been sending pictures of her from different stores. A large poster of her remains in the American Eagle store in the Twelve Oaks mall in Novi; a large poster used to hang in the American Eagle store in the Green Oak Village Place mall but was recently taken down as a new campaign was installed.
“I think this has really opened her eyes to all of the different possible careers in an industry where there is a creative outlet,” Lynn Jolly said. “She’s having a great time.”
Despite missing school for the Mexico photo shoot, she said Hannah Jolly took homework with her and has maintained her straight A’s.
Lynn Jolly said the family knew little about the modeling industry, but it’s been a positive experience.
Hannah Jolly said all the professionals on the photo shoot made her feel relaxed. It helped that they tailor-made the clothes to fit perfectly.
“You just feel so confident in these clothes,” she said. “You just feel very confident because you’re picked out of all those people and you are there.”
She said this experience opened her eyes to all the possible career opportunities in modeling, including being a stylist or coordinating the shoots.
She doesn’t want to pursue modeling as a full-time job, but she could see herself doing it as hobby.
Still, Jolly said it’s strange walking into a store and having people recognize you by your photo.