ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- When Sydni Rehovsky was offered a chance to dance in New York last year – on more than one occasion – she started trying to figure out a way to make money to help pay for the costly trip.
The now 11-year-old from Alexandria, who is a dancer at Dancin’ Off Broadway and a sixth-grader at Discovery Middle School, started a GoFundMe page, but said it didn’t really work out.
“What if you get a job?” her dad, Bob Rehovsky, told her at the time. To which she replied, “But I’m only 10!”
The father and daughter were sitting at the kitchen table and a Target flyer was sitting in front of them. Nonchalantly, Bob pointed to the flyer and told his daughter she could be a model for Target. She laughed at first, because she didn’t think it was possible. But after talking about it with her parents, they all thought it could work and the process began.
And now, nearly a year later, a giant photo of Sydni hangs in the Halloween department at Target stores across the nation – including the Target in Alexandria.
“She’s so talented, beautiful, funny, comical; she could easily be a model,” the grinning father said last week as he looked at his daughter while they sat in the Starbucks at the Alexandria Target.
Sydni’s mom, Jodi, remembered a friend of hers who had grandchildren who modeled. Jodi was slightly hesitant because modeling, she said, can be a “scary world,” but she contacted the mom and talked to her about how to get started.
After doing some research on the internet, Jodi emailed Sydni’s photo and stats to several people she found on the Target website and then waited for a response.
One came in the form of a phone call from a member of Target’s creative department, who told Jodi, “You’re daughter is absolutely beautiful.”
She was also told that Target doesn’t hire its own models, but instead works with a modeling agency. That slightly concerned Sydni’s mother, but she was given contact information for the Twin Cities agency.
A “meet and greet” was set up with her daughter and an agent from Caryn Models. Sydni and her parents were excited – and nervous.
“I was working on my face,” said the giddy 11-year-old. “I would look in the mirror and practice smiling. I looked at different outfits, too. I was so nervous.”
The day came and they arrived at the agency. Sydni thought it was “so cool.”
“Everything was so shiny and fancy,” she said of the inside of the agency. “And everything was white.”
Despite all that practicing in the mirror, Sydni said she was so nervous she couldn’t make eye contact with the lady who would eventually become her agent.
“I just kept looking at her nose,” she said, while giggling.Becoming a model
The agency signed Sydni on the spot, Jodi said.
Prior to landing the job with Target, Sydni had casting calls with two other companies, Hasbro Toys and Nike, but didn’t get a call back.
“It was OK,” she said. “I thought I’d get another one.”
She did. In fact, Sydni has already done a photo shoot to be in a print ad for US Bank, as well as the photo shoot with Target. For the US Bank ad, she was photographed with what Jodi called her “fake family,” which included mom and dad models and a dog.
Jodi said that the powers-that-be at Target, after perusing through about 100 photos of kids from the casting call, specifically asked for Sydni.
“I was so excited,” Sydni said. “I couldn’t believe it. You know how they say things are too good to be real? That’s what I thought.”
The Target photo shoot, the family explained, was much different than the one for US Bank. Jodi said about 20 different people tended to Sydni for the Target shoot, some working on her hair, others on her make-up and clothing.
“I felt famous,” Sydni said. “They were talking to me about life. It was pretty fun.”
The photo went up in the local Target on Sept. 16.
“My mom started crying when she saw it,” Sydni said. “She went up to one of the workers and told them that was me.”
Jodi smiled and said, “It’s just so surreal.”
Bob’s reaction to finally seeing the photo hanging in the Alexandria Target about a week after it went up: “That’s big!”
He then said, “It’s cool. I truly believe she has a lot of talent.” Looking at his daughter, he added, “You will get offers if you use your talents.”What’s next?
Jodi receives emails from the modeling agency about additional opportunities. If the jobs work with their schedules, then they pursue it.
“Dance is my first priority. Well, school is, then dance,” said Sydni. “If it doesn’t interfere with school or dance, then I can do it.”
Sydni said she is saving up money for a new phone first, and then she’ll save money for a trip to New York. She also said that when she is an adult, the three children she plans on having will also be models.
“We’re all going to model,” she said confidently.