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Cedar Rapids native ready to walk the Victoria's Secret runway

Alanna Arrington traveling the world as a model, and she's only 18

Next Model Management

Alanna Arrington courtesy of Next Model Management.
Next Model Management Alanna Arrington courtesy of Next Model Management.
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A little more than a week after her 18th birthday, Cedar Rapids native Alanna Arrington is going to strut her stuff on a Paris runway — in nothing but underwear and high heels.

Not only that, she’ll do it in front of millions of people all over the world, when CBS broadcasts the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The show itself is Nov. 30; it is to be broadcast on CBS at 9 p.m. Dec. 5.

“I have not been able to sit down and comprehend what has happened in the last month,” Arrington said. “I’ve blown away any expectations of where I saw myself, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a dream.”

When Arrington decided to give modeling a try in high school, she said she had no idea it would “explode” into the career she now has,

Arrington was an athlete — and a good one at that, playing multiple sports, including basketball, soccer, softball and track.

Her dad, Anthony, was reluctant to see her give up sports to pursue modeling. He worried the industry would take advantage of her. Plus, for years, she’d refused to even put on a dress, he said.

But she begged and pleaded and finally got her way, trading in her basketball sneakers for high heels.

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“She really wanted to do this, so I had to let go. I just started viewing this as her sport,” Anthony Arrington said.

Arrington — a 5-foot, 10-inch, size 2 natural beauty with bouncy brown curls and hazel eyes — now dons heels and couture clothing on a daily basis.

At age 15, Arrington made her first trip to Los Angeles for a modeling gig. At 16, she spent the summer there. And by the time she was 17, she had moved to New York City and just recently signed a lease for her first apartment.

Now she’s posing for cameras and walking runways from New York to London, in Cuba and Brazil and all across Europe. She’s worked with top designers and magazines, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Alberta Ferretti, Max Mara, Stella McCartney, Topshop, Vogue and Allure.

The victoria job

And now she can check the Victoria’s Secret fashion show off her bucket list, despite thinking she’d need at least two fashion seasons before she stood a chance. Also, she wasn’t yet 18, which is a requirement for casting.

But while modeling in Paris during fashion month, Arrington grew close to a stylist who insisted she send photos to the Victoria’s Secret casting director. To her surprise, she was called in for an audition.

“I was so nervous. My hands were clammy, and I could barely talk to anybody,” Arrington said. “But ... they made me feel so comfortable. The whole team was amazing. I was just happy I got to be in that room with everybody. I wasn’t expecting to get the show.”

Two days later, Arrington’s agent called, saying there was good and bad news. The bad? She wouldn’t be modeling in Dubai as planned. The good? She’d be modeling in the Victoria’s Secret show.

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“I immediately dropped my phone and started crying, I was so shocked,” she said. “That’s every model’s dream to walk in that show because it’s so iconic.”

While most people would be nervous walking in their underwear in front of millions of people, Arrington said she is excited.

“I’ve been in the gym so much recently, I’m excited for people to see how hard I’ve been working,” she said.

“I thought it (modeling) would be all easy-peasy, put on makeup and look pretty,” she continued. “But models train like professional athletes. I’ve played sports my whole life and watched what I ate, but you take it to a new level when you get into this world.”

Arrington works out twice a day and watches her diet, avoiding junk food like cheeseburgers — her favorite.

Iowa roots

Arrington credits Jeff and Mary Clarke of Mother Model Management — the same couple that launched actor Ashton Kutcher and supermodel Karlie Kloss — for their help.

Now, in addition to Mother Model, Arrington has signed worldwide with Next Model Management.

“Before this year, I had never left the country. ... I hadn’t really even left Iowa,” Arrington said.

“Going to all these places and experiencing different cultures has opened my eyes to literally a whole new world,” she said. “I look at things so differently now. I think it’s important to experience that so young. It’s shaped me into a different person.”

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Arrington is finishing high school online. She’s on track to graduate from Washington High School in May and is considering college in the future — perhaps New York University — but is focused on her career for now.

As for coming home — it’s unlikely, she said, even though she misses her family and friends.

“I miss out on some things,” Arrington said. “It’s kind of hard, but then I realize what I’m doing. I could be at home doing normal things, but I’m out living in New York, and it’s kind of crazy. I can’t sit here and complain and be negative. It’s all about realizing how lucky I am.”

Back home, her mother, Amy Arrington, misses her daughter.

“We weren’t ready,” she said of her daughter moving so far away, tears welling in her eyes as she described the worry and stress. “But how do we say no?

“She’s following her dreams.”

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