Like many 6-year-olds, Alexa Hanson-Evers is a huge fan of the popular children's cartoon characters Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First on the Disney Junior channel. But unlike her peers, the Dundalk resident has the distinction of being featured on both the characters' toy boxes.
Shortly after signing with the modeling agency Wilhelmina Philadelphia, the pint-sized, lively brunette was picked for the popular characters' packaging by Just Play, a consumer goods company that makes toys for Disney Consumer Products, Marvel Entertainment and others. As a result, Alexa's likeness is now on boxes for Sofia the First Deluxe Styling Head and Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Doc — Mobile Clinic.
As many people with young kids know, Doc McStuffins is an animated children's television series hailed for its African-American lead character. Sofia the First is an animated series that follows the life of a young girl who becomes a princess.
"I was happy because I knew everybody would see it," said the first-grader at Chesapeake Terrace Elementary. "I felt really good and I felt excited."
Lana Rae, head of the Annapolis-based KISS Modeling Agency and founder of Fashion Awards Maryland, said Hanson-Evers is off to a "phenomenal" start to her modeling career.
"It's rare for a child in this area," Rae explained. "Even though the [Baltimore] fashion industry is up and coming, talent here is often overlooked. For a child to get two ad campaigns is definitely huge."
Rae, who has two children, immediately grasped the magnitude of the Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins brands.
"Sofia the First — everybody knows her. Everyone knows Doc McStuffins," Rae said. "It's a great opportunity. It shows that she has talent. Hopefully it will pave the way for others in this area."
Alexa first saw the boxes on store shelves when she was visiting family in Connecticut. Her mother, Stacey Hanson-Evers, said that she was more excited than her daughter by seeing Alexa's likeness on the toys.
"Everyone went to Wal-Mart or Target and everyone was excited to see Alexa," she said. "The Toys 'R' Us people thought she was a celebrity. I was very ecstatic."
She said she initially looked into having her daughter model because people kept telling her Alexa would be great at it. So she sent a photo to Wilhelmina Philadelphia.
"I found that Wilhelmina does invites to open calls if they like pictures that you send them," she said. "At that open call is when they selected her to work with them."
Alexa's mother has helped to keep her daughter grounded throughout the entire process.
"I often remind her how fortunate she really is," she said. "I don't allow her to talk about it too much with her friends. We kind of keep it within the family."
Both of the campaign shoots took place last December to ensure that the toys could hit shelves in time for holiday sales. Alexa initially landed the Sofia The First toy box. Doc McStuffins was next, based on her work on the first shoot, according to her mother.
"The shoots lasted two hours [each]," she said. "They had a team of people for each shoot. They really had it streamlined so that it was easy. They had food and drinks to keep them energized and motivated. They did a great job with the kids."
Alexa, who is usually pretty confident, was slightly reticent at the beginning of each shoot.
"I was nervous when they took my picture," she recalled. "It was a lot to swallow."
Her mother was pleased with the results of the shoots. And she couldn't be more pleased with the brands her daughter is representing.
"They are very kid-friendly," she said in reference to the characters. "They have a lot of life lessons. I felt very good about the two products that she was going to represent. They were very fitting for her. For a brief moment, you wonder if you want you child exposed like that, but after talking to them, I felt very comfortable."
While Alexa has dreams of becoming a professional model when she gets older, she also wants to be a teacher.
"Now that she's been exposed, we're looking at other Disney products," her mother said. "We're just trying to keep it all under control. She plays teacher all the time. She really wants to be a teacher."
In the meantime, Alexa and her family are enjoying the spoils associated with the jobs.
"It's a pretty lucrative industry if you are consistent," her mother explained, adding that child models typically make between $150 to $300 an hour. "Unfortunately you don't get money from the sales of the products."
Despite the recent success, Alexa seems grounded. When the topic of Christmas toys came up, she responded excitedly that she wants a Barbie Dream House.
You can already guess the gift that her mother plans to give friends and family.
"Well everyone that hasn't already bought one [Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins] will get a toy now," she said with a laugh.