Can You Even Be a Model Without Famous Parents These Days?

Alexandra Mondalek
Lisa Rinna flanked by daughters Delilah Belle Hamlin, left, and Amelia Gray Hamlin. (Photo: Getty Images)
Lisa Rinna flanked by daughters Delilah Belle Hamlin, left, and Amelia Gray Hamlin. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the last few years, the world has watched many a celebrity spawn morph into a celebrity of his or her own making — very often in the modeling world. There are Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, plus Paris Jackson, Lily Rose Depp, Kaia Jordan Gerber, and Milo Gibson.

The latest member of the famous kids-turned-model club is Amelia Gray Hamlin, daughter of Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, whose face is splashed all over the W Mag site as part of a new interview.

Which begs the question: Are the days of the supermarket supermodel — the no-name, doe-eyed Midwesterner plucked from obscurity after being discovered living their quotidian life — over? Does one have to be an Instagram maven with hundreds of thousands of followers to be America’s next top model, instead of being an actual nobody who could audition for America’s Next Top Model?

Well first of all, casting agent and designer Natalie Joos explains for Yahoo Style, it’s not quite so simple for celebrity babes. “I know other celebrities trying to help their kids make it and not making it,” she says. “It’s not enough that because you’re a celebrity you’ll make it as model. There are plenty of examples of people who come in front of me and won’t make it, they just don’t have it. If you don’t have the body, the walk, the personality, it’s also not going to happen for you.”

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And to be sure, there are plenty of no-names turned all-stars who embody a new wave of diverse supermodels. And it helps when they’re tapped by fashion fairy godmothers like Carine Roitfeld, as was the case for Halima Aden, the 17-year-old Somalian refugee who walked in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 show.

That seems meritocratic enough, right? Well, not so much. That’s because there’s another weapon in the celebrity-baby arsenal that the average Joanne doesn’t have: social media presence.

Since it’s not enough that celebrity parents have connections to coastal agencies to help get their kid’s foot in the door, they also arm their offspring with enough social media juice (see: followers) to make them sellable at any one of those agencies.

Amelia Gray, for example, has 180,000 followers. How is it that a 16-year-old California high school student’s Instagram page is intriguing enough to follow to more people than populate the entire town of Jackson, Miss.? It could have to do with the fact that soap opera actress-turned-reality TV mom Lisa Rinna periodically has Amelia on her Bravo show, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. (Gigi and Bella Hadid’s mother, Yolanda Foster, once appeared on the same show.)

For top firms like Elite Model Management, the bet on social media talent is big. Agencies devote entire teams to handling the careers of social media influencers and models.

So, if you don’t have a famous parent, it’s true you can still model — if you game the system. Have big lips and long lashes and exaggerated features and happen to go viral, and you’ll up your chances of getting signed. But forego Instagram, and forsake your career.

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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.