- Ellen Spitaleri
- Clackamas Review - Features
An Oak Grove girl hits the big time in the world of fashion modeling
She's on the cover of Vogue Bambini, an international publication; her picture's on a billboard at Washington Square, near the new Williams Sonoma store; she's appeared in Fred Meyer ads; she has an agent who regularly sends her on casting calls; she has a resume listing more than a dozen plays she has been in, along with her television credits, including a commercial for Rubbermaid; she has recently been accepted into the ranks of a prestigious acting troupe and, oh yes, she'll be in the fourth grade next year at Concord Elementary School.
Meet Gillian Chase, a 9-year-old model and actress, from Oak Grove.
'When I was a kid, I was very photogenic, and my mom and dad found out I loved the camera and loved video. Mom and dad talked to me about plays and modeling, and I started by taking theater classes,' Gillian said.
Kim Chase, Gillian's mother, laughed, and told her daughter, 'You're still a kid.'
It all began with an audition with the John Robert Powers talent agency, when Gillian was 4 1/2 years old, her mother continued, and that's where her daughter began to take acting and modeling classes.
And that is also where 'Ryan Artists got involved,' noted Kim Chase, adding that Gillian's agent is Kit Garrett, from Ryan Artists in Portland.
'I like working with her-it's like she did this in another life. She takes direction well, and I like her look; she's interesting to look at, and she has so much to offer,' Garrett said.
The fashion shoot with the international publication was 'a dream job for me to work on,' Garrett said, adding that she felt like a 'proud mama with her brood' when she saw that Gillian had made the cover of the magazine.
For the Vogue Bambini casting call, Gillian said she went to a photo shoot, and made the callback.
It was a three-day fashion shoot; the first day took place in a warehouse, the second day they moved to Arcadia Beach near Cannon Beach and the third day was in Corbett, out near the Gorge.
That first day, 'I had to wait around a lot. When they were shooting the other kids I was tired and bored, but when it was my turn I was happy,' Gillian said.
She modeled five outfits, and explained that the photographers 'used three different cameras and shot 100 pictures' of each outfit, 'just to get one perfect one.'
Kim noted that the first day of the shoot lasted 10 hours and involved 15 children.
'They had a big crew, and they all spoke French and Italian to each other; sometimes they'd forget and turn to one of the kids and speak in French,' she added.
To the Chases' surprise, when Vogue Bambini, an international fashion magazine aimed at children, came out in mid-July, one of Gillian's photos was on the cover.
The photo is a headshot, with Gillian, clad in a bejeweled white blouse under a short-sleeved pullover sweater, holding her index finger to her lips, in a classic 'shhh' pose. The price tag on that blouse was $100, Gillian noted.
The cover was 'totally a bonus thing,' her mother said, adding, 'Not all the kids got to be in the spread, as the editors chose the photos.'
The second day on the beach was 'fun but tiring,' said Gillian. But, the shoot 'kind of took the fun out of the beach - I really wanted to play, but couldn't, and why would you even wear those clothes,' she added.
Four photos from that shoot were included in the fashion spread inside the magazine, including a close-up shot of Gillian in a dark turtleneck sweater.
On the third day of the shoot, when the crew was in Corbett, Gillian was asked to do something she was not too crazy about.
'It was gross, I had to hug and kiss a tree, and there were red ants crawling on it,' she said.
Other than that, though, this shoot was 'almost the most fun - Corbett was really pretty,' Gillian said.
Her mother noted that the photos from that shoot were to support Greenpeace efforts, and should appear in the magazine's August or September issue.
She's a local girl, in first photo shoots and theater
Gillian's first modeling efforts began locally, her mother pointed out. The sharp-eyed shopper can see her holding a camera in a Shutterbug ad situated in the new wing of Washington Square, and her model's notebook reveals numerous photos of her in children's wear posing for Fred Meyer ads.
She made a commercial for Rubbermaid's Paint Buddy, when she was missing her two front teeth.
'There was a huge gap,' but the commercial makers wanted her anyway, noted Gillian's mom, with a laugh.
Taking pride of place on Gillian's resume is her list of theater credits. She has appeared in workshop-productions for Oregon Children's Theatre, NW Children's Theater and Missoula Children's Theater; she has also been in plays for New Moon Productions, the Multnomah Arts Center and at Concord Elementary School, where she will be a fourth grader next fall.
Renae Haydel was Gillian's third grade teacher this past year, and she described her as a 'very talented child' who is 'gifted artistically' as well as academically high achieving.
'Gillian has a high work ethic and is an all-around great kids who is confident, but not pretentious, and who likes to have friends,' Haydel added.
Acting is in her future
And what does the future hold, for this 9 year old?
'I really want to be in a movie. I'd like to be in a mystery movie, where there are clues or a treasure hunt - a fun movie,' she said.
For right now, though, she is thrilled to have been accepted into the Krayon Kids, a children's performing group based in Oregon City.
'When she did the audition [for Krayon Kids], they requested that she go to their camp. She did that, and then we received a letter saying that she was accepted. She worked hard on her audition - she did a song, a dance and a monologue. They have quite a waiting list - a lot of kids didn't even get to audition, as they can handle only so many cast members, we're so proud of her,' her mother said.
'I can't believe I'm a Krayon Kid,' Gillian added.
Looking far ahead, Gillian's mom does not think that runway modeling will be in her daughter's future, as projections indicate she will not be tall enough. Instead, she sees her daughter focusing on theater.
'She's going to be a good actress. She's definitely going to Broadway, and her dad and I will support her and chaperone her all the way. It's amazing seeing her talent grow,' she said.
As for the young lady herself, well, she's practicing her thank you speech for any upcoming awards ceremony.
Gillian said, 'I want to say thanks to all my people - my family and friends. Thanks to Kim Chase, my mom, and Jeremy Chase, my dad, and to Gabbie Shaw, my friend.'