From the Arizona desert to Paris Fashion Week in one year: Anthony’s wish for a photoshoot launched his international modeling career
Friends and family had been telling Anthony he should model since he was a little kid. He embraced his unique look growing up – with his naturally curly hair and freckles – but he didn’t focus too much on building a career in modeling, instead focusing on just being a kid.
All that changed at 15, when Anthony was diagnosed with leukemia.
“Anthony took it really, really hard,” his mother Kristen said. “He struggled to stay positive as he went through treatment, and every day was an effort for him. Watching him go through it all was devastating.”
“He was unrecognizable from his old self,” she continued. “His treatments made him exhausted. He stopped his regular activities and rarely left the house.”
That’s when Make-A-Wish Arizona met Anthony. When talking to him about what his one true wish would be, Anthony knew a wish was a special opportunity, and so he wished for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I wished for a photoshoot because I wanted to experience something I would never have the chance to do on my own,” Anthony said. “I was curious about modeling, but entering the industry is extremely difficult. I knew having a professional portfolio would help me get started.”
“We were so excited for him to have this opportunity,” his mother Kristen said. “After three hard years of treatment, he deserved to have something positive to focus on. He deserved this wish.”
Make-A-Wish Arizona arranged for Anthony to spend a day with a professional photographer taking photos in different outfits and settings in northern Arizona. He received the full model treatment during his photoshoot, and by the end of the day, he and his family couldn’t believe how amazing his photos looked.
“I was honestly shocked when I saw how good the photos were,” Anthony said. “They gave me new confidence. I was so excited that I shared them with my friends and family on social media.”
Little did everyone know that Anthony’s time in front of the camera had only just begun.
Without telling anyone, Anthony sent his photos to Wilhelmina Models, a top modeling agency in New York. Only one day later, they called him back with an offer to sign him.
“It was so crazy,” he said. “I didn’t think that anyone would even respond to me. They had no idea about my wish or the fact that I had leukemia. They signed me based on the quality of my portfolio, and it felt good to know that I had earned this.”
Since his wish, Anthony has had a busy year. He is now in remission, and signed with not only Wilhelmina New York but also Wilhelmina London, Elite Paris and Elite Milan. He has walked in shows for New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, and he spent this summer walking in dozens of shows all over Europe.
Sometimes, it all still feels like a dream to Anthony.
“This past year has been out of this world,” he said. “Make-A-Wish Arizona provided me with the opportunity that started my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my wish, and I am so grateful.”