Tanaia Esaw: America's Next Top Model? | Arts & Culture
By Dawon Johnson (published in The Vision Magazine Spring Issue)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas has produced two “America’s Next Top Model” winners, and it could be home to a third. Well, if the show is on-air for 10 more years. That’s when Tanaia Esaw, an eight-year-old model from Little Rock, will be eligible for the highly rated reality show.
“I think I’m the best model. When I come out on the stage everybody screams my name,” says Esaw. “I understand when I’m doing good, because people scream out ‘go on girl’ and ‘you better work that stage.’ Modeling makes me feel very happy. It is my life.”
Esaw, a second-grader at Romaine Elementary School, got her start modeling in the summer 2009 at the inaugural Little Rock Fashion Week (LRFW). Since her debut, she has appeared in several fashion shows, a commercial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Marade. According to Tanya Esaw, Tanaia’s mother, Tanaia's development into a model began at two years old.
“My sisters would always tell her that she was a diva, always walk like a diva, with confidence and with her head and eyes up,” Tanya describes. “She’s not professionally trained. At home, she practices alone by looking at her shadow on the walls and making improvement. I think she was born with the ability to want to stand out and entertain. She loves the attention, performing, and being around other kid models. It’s very exciting.”
In an era where child stardom is glorified by media, and overzealous parents push their kids to be famous, Tanya is no stage mom.
“I’m not focusing solely on her long term future as model. I’m concentrating on her tomorrow. I want Tanaia to be a kid. She understands this. Then, when its lights, camera and action, she turns into Miss T,” Tanya explains. “Her future is in her hands. Whatever career path she takes, in life, I’m going to stand behind her.”
Each audition, Tanaia has scored in the top three. Tanaia was the only child model to receive votes as LRFW “2010 Model of the Year.” She also scores high in the classroom, as an honor roll student. Tanaia attends Spirit of the Lord-God Church and is a praise dancer.
“Tanaia is a unique talent. She has that ‘it’ factor,” states Brandon D. Campbell, Little Rock Fashion Week’s founder. “As a producer in L.A., New York, and here, I’ve evaluated a lot of child performers, and I can say with certainty that the sky's the limit for Tanaia, if she wants it."
Tanaia’s idol is Tachyra “Chy” Thornton, a popular local model with whom she shared the stage at LRFW and at the MLK Day Marade. She also respects Dr. King himself.
“Chy is pretty. At shows, everybody screams her name. They love them some Chy! Martin Luther King wanted everybody to be together and happy, and I think he was happy with my walk and how we did in the parade,” Tanaia said, with a smile.
To book Tanaia for your next event call 501-240-7004. To read this story and more in 'The Vision Magazine' visit www.rumel.us. To learn more about Little Rock Fashion Week 2011 visit www.littlerockfashionweek.com.