Glam Girls
1/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
Glam Girls

One need only look around to know we have beautiful people in Southwest Louisiana. Numerous nationally recognized beauty queens, runway models, and Hollywood actresses were born and raised right here in the Lake Area. In this first issue of 2020, we spotlight two young ladies who are beautifully pursuing their passions.


Maya Ward, a fifteen-year-old sophomore at Barbe High School, first became interested in modeling early last summer when she began a modeling course offered by her cousin Alyssa Burris. Burris has modeled professionally and is the founder of Walks 2 Remember, a modeling coaching and mentoring business here in Lake Charles. By September, Maya, whose stage name is SheliaAlise, was walking runways during Fashion Week in New York City. She showcased garments by Texas-based designer Travis Hamilton and his label, Negris Lebrum. Maya has also done runway fashion modeling in Baton Rouge. Photos of Maya modeling have appeared in French, Italian, and American magazines.

Maya says Burris’s four-month modeling course was fun but humbling and way more work than she imagined. Runway modeling is also a lot of work. While a model may look serene as she sashays down the runway, it’s often mayhem behind the scenes, with lightning-quick clothing changes and adjustments to hair and make-up. "There’s a lot of practice, stress and pressure that goes into a show,” says Maya. 


Maya says modeling suits her personality. "The dedication and work ethic required has shaped me into a more disciplined person. There are a lot of physical and mental challenges that go into modeling. Certain weight standards must be maintained and it’s hard not to compare myself to other models. My coach Alyssa has groomed me to focus on myself and making myself a better model. Having a good skin care routine is also important, with the closeup photography.” Her favorite part of modeling is getting out on the runway and feeling that sense of accomplishment when the show is a success. 


Currently, Maya is busy with school and activities. She has participated in athletics such as volleyball, softball, soccer, and now runs track. She also pursues artistic outlets such as painting, writing, and reading poetry. In October 2020, she’ll be headed to Paris to walk the runways in the City of Lights. 

Maya plans to continue modeling, at least as a side hustle, but college is definitely in her future.

Jillian Elliott, a 18-year-old senior at Westlake High School, began competing in pageants at age 13. She intended to only compete at a local fair, but loved it so much, she kept competing, and that paid off big time last summer. In July, Jillian was crowned Miss Teen America 2019! She says standing onstage as one of the final two contestants was an exhilarating mix of nerves and excitement. "Hearing Louisiana called as Miss Teen America was a memorable moment. I was thrilled to serve as Miss Teen America, but representing the state that I love and have called home my entire life made it even more special.”


Pageant competition consisted of interview, active wear, fashion runway, evening gown, and onstage question. When asked about an issue she is concerned about, Jillian shared her passion for childhood literacy. She recognizes that many young people view reading and writing as a chore. "My mission is to change that attitude and encourage kids to read and write for leisure, not only for tests, reports, or homework.” This year, Jillian will visit libraries, speak to classrooms, and pass out bookmarks to inspire kids to take advantage of their education.


Jillian says participating in pageants benefits girls in numerous ways, like improved communication skills and higher self-confidence, but overall, opportunity is the most notable. "Pageants give girls the opportunity to focus on self-growth in a competitive, yet empowering, environment. 


Also, professional opportunities are possible through pageantry. You wouldn’t believe how many lawyers, business owners, journalists, and popular entertainers are former ‘pageant girls!’”

After graduation, Jillian plans to major in Journalism at LSU with the intent of pursuing a law degree afterwards. "My dream job is to one day report for a major national news channel!”

Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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