HED:Modeling takes Tupelo native, young sons to New York

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HED:Modeling takes Tupelo native, young sons to New York

By Bobby Pepper

Daily Journal

JoAnn Davis of Tupelo can remember when her daughter, Kelly Davis Barlow, tried her hand at modeling during her teen years.

“She modeled for McRae’s and she modeled for Westbrooks, but she never thought about making a career out of it,” Davis said.

Now as an adult living near Jackson, Barlow could be looking at a modeling career. But she won’t be the one featured in the magazines and TV commercials; it’s her two young sons.

Barlow’s sons, Beck (age 6) and Cole (age 3), spent this past summer in New York City modeling for numerous department store catalogs. Beck even ventured into television with a non-speaking part on a soap opera.

Barlow, a 1980 Tupelo High School graduate, said she never imagined her sons being in the modeling limelight.

“When you get that kind of opportunity, you get beside yourself when you see these young ones do this stuff,” she said. “We’re all excited about it.”

Barlow, who lives in Ridgeland with her sons and husband, Joe, said her older son got into modeling by accident. “I was riding down the road and heard an ad on the radio about a modeling contest for kids,” she said.

She dressed Beck in blue jeans and cowboy boots and entered him in the contest sponsored by a regional modeling agency.

“When we got there all the parents had their children all dolled up, and first I thought we didn’t have a chance in blue jeans,” Barlow said. “But they told us that was exactly what they were looking for children who looked natural and weren’t all fixed up. They had all the kids line up, asked them a few questions, and Beck got picked as one of the winners.”

Beck’s next stop was Atlanta, where he was only five of 500 kids ages 12 and under selected to audition for New York. After auditioning, he was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency. His picture has appeared in several catalogs, including this year’s Avon Christmas catalog.

While most of his work was in the modeling studio, Beck also got the attention of TV producers. He read for a part in Sesame Street, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from taking a role. But Beck found his way on the small screen with a bit part in As the World Turns.

“He was a kid at a yacht club,” his mother said. “He was the only kid on there and he had a pretend mother. They walked through several times. He didn’t have to say anything.”

During the summer, Cole who was 2 at the time was staying with his mother, brother and baby-sitter in a small apartment in New York. It wasn’t long before he was discovered by modeling scouts.

“I took Beck to a ‘go-see’ interview at Lillian-Vernon, where you go see if they like you,” Barlow said. “But when they saw Cole, they fell in love with him. They called Ford and said, ‘There’s a baby whose brother is a Ford model. That’s the kid we want.’ “

Lillian-Vernon immediately put Cole to work and now he’s featured in three of its mail-order catalogs.

After six weeks of work in New York, Barlow and her boys returned home. Beck and Cole remain active in modeling by appearing in ads for Jackson-area clothing stores and in newspaper fashion sections until they’re needed for more photo shoots in the Big Apple. Last week they came to Tupelo to visit her mother and father, Leo Davis.

In the modeling business, the right “look” could mean a successful career for a model. Barlow believes her boys have what it takes to appear in front of the camera.

“Everyone tells me I have beautiful boys,” she said. “My oldest one, he’s a pretty boy. He’s just extremely beautiful. Now my other one, well, he’s a pistol. He gets into everything, but he’s as cute as he can be.”

When asked about her grandsons’ modeling success, JoAnn Davis gives the beaming smile of a proud grandmother. She doesn’t hide her affection for her only grandchildren.

“Oh, I can’t say enough about them,” she said. “Those are some precious little boys. We’re proud of them. We love them so much.”

Salvation Army needs bell ringers

Christmas is just two months away, and that means the Salvation Army is busy recruiting bell ringers for the holiday season.

The bell ringers can be found at businesses throughout Lee County in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The contributions left in the kettles are important 30 percent of the Army’s budget for the upcoming year comes from those contributions.

In addition to the large civic groups coming back this year to ring bells, the Salvation Army is recruiting individuals and small groups to help out.

If a person or a group of people are interested in ringing bells for the Salvation Army, call Capt. Keath Biggers at 842-9222.

Bobby Pepper is editor of the Lee County Neighbors section. If you have any news, give Bobby a call at 842-2612 or 678-1600. He welcomes your contributions.