By Jon Winkler
FITCHBURG -- Nine-year-old Pressley Lashua keeps a busy schedule.
Most days she’s attending Crocker Elementary School, playing dodgeball in gym class and focusing in math class.
Other days require a day out of school and a trip to New York City for a photo shoot. Whether it’s to be the fun-loving girl on the box of the latest Hasbro toy or displaying the newest relaxed children’s clothing line for L.L. Bean, Pressley doesn’t seem to mind her busy schedule as a child model given how excited she is talking about her burgeoning career.
Her mother, Sarah Lashua, has certainly seen it in the five years since her daughter started the work.
“It’s like every year, she just gets more and more comfortable,” Sarah said on Saturday. “You meet so many great people, she’s met so many friends. There’s really nothing that’s not fun about it for her.”
Pressley’s young career path was started practically on a whim. Sarah explained how she and her daughter took the advice of a friend five years ago to travel to East Coast Starz in Whippany, N.J., for a seasonal program where parents and children learn the basics of the modeling industry and meet talent scouts.
“I was a little nervous to do my first-ever shoot,” Pressley said. “I didn’t know what it was like and I didn’t really know what to do.”
“We were going there for fun. I had three small kids at the time so I didn’t think I could do any of this,” Sarah said. “But then once we got those headshots a month later I thought, ‘Well, might as well just try to submit them.’ ”
Merely a month after working her first runway, Pressley got her first paid modeling job for Hasbro playing with the popular Baby Alive doll on the toy’s box. A year later, Pressly had the “crazy” experience of seeing her face on that Baby Alive box in a local Walmart. She’s did unpaid editorial work for small clothing magazines in New York City to build her portfolio and then modeled more toy products for Hasbro, My Little Pony and the Disney film Frozen throughout her career.
“I liked doing the toys because you got to play with stuff,” Pressley said. “Before you went out to shoot some stuff they’d have toys for you to play with.”
She’s continued to build her portfolio over the years, being featured in a catalogue for L.L. Bean and even dressing as Hillary Clinton in a Halloween costume on The View’s Halloween episode in 2017. Sometimes her work forces her to miss school days but she has the support of her family and her own school.
“Our school has been so supportive,” Sarah said. “I was going to pull her out and home school her and they said, ‘Please don’t do that, we’ll work around it.’ When she was on The View, her teacher was more excited about it than I was.”
Pressley’s next gig is modeling for the Girl Scouts of America’s website for the second year in a row later this month. As far as her future goes, Pressley has eyes on an acting career, modeling for Gucci and even having her own modeling company one day. It’ll be a lot of shoots with multiple cameras, flashing lights and a teams of people putting everything together. For Pressley, she keeps one major thought in her head when she poses for the cameras: “I just tell myself, ‘Smile!’ ”