One could easily make the suggestion that 2020 has been stifled, ruined, or a ton of other negative connotations due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. 19-year-old, Alexandra Ott, known by her many friends and supporters as “Ally” however would suggest otherwise – stating during our in-depth interview she’d prefer the term “2.0”. Ally is far from what society would deem as a “typical teenager.” Taking pride in her ability to manage a grueling schedule that includes being a full-time model and successful brand-owner amongst other things, Ally is what most elders would call “a rare one.” Luckily for us, due to Covid-19, Ally is currently with her family at their home in Tennessee and had some time to get on a Zoom call for 90-minutes to talk with us about the being scouted at 14-years-old to model, the grueling schedule modeling in New York, running a successful evolutionary lifestyle brand in Plant-Spirit, the importance of her spirituality and more. Check out our in-depth Q&A below now.
Photography: Roland Felipe
Interviewer: Huey Melendez
So obviously for starters, what’s your name and where are you from?
Alexandra Ott, known as Ally born in VB, father Navy grew up all over Virginia for a few years, moved to Alaska for a while, known for moving around a lot.. kind of have a “foothold” everywhere, currently
How was it living in Alaska?
Moving to Alaska was a major mark in my life, getting exposed to a different culture… and then the vast landscape constantly reminds you how small you are in the big picture… mountains are humbling. That taught me a lot about my spirituality and how to explore the world outside of the bubble I maybe once lived in early in my adolescent years
How important are your parents to your growth overall?
My parents are two incredible worldly people that inspire critical thinking and living outside the box. They taught me to be BOLD.
When did you first start modeling?
I actually got scouted to model when I was 14 years old in Alaska, oddly enough I was scouted at the Iditarod dog sled race, Fur Rendezvous event, there was a national talent scout there
What was your first professional opportunity in modeling?
I signed with Vision Los Angeles when I was 14
Did you always think you were going to be a model growing up?
My sister is a fine arts photographer, so growing up I was her guinea pig always being in front of the camera and then also being almost 6 feet and slender I guess you know I often got the whole “you look like a model”, “you should model” so it became something that I kind of naturally self-identified with.
When did you make the decision to whole-heartedly pursue modeling?
I played competitive soccer growing up but decided to go ahead and close that chapter of my life when I chose to graduate high school a year early. I signed to my mother agent, Karen Lee Group, who’s been in the business for about 30-years. I’ve been working with her for about 3 years now so I graduated early, took a few months to prep, and then headed up to New York when I was 17. It takes a lot to be able to make it at the New York level, like A LOT it’s a leap for sure.
Tell me more about your love for soccer when you were younger?
I love soccer, I’m very competitive, being an athlete is still a huge part of me, as you get older obviously the politics and drama becomes a turnoff but I played from 3-years-old until I was 16 and I enjoyed every moment of it… I was pretty good!
Has soccer helped you in your modeling career at all?
I’d say soccer and modeling are very different, modeling is so self-consumed versus sports are team effort you know. But I will say in the sense of leadership the roles I played in soccer have translated over to modeling when working on sets, like when it comes to stepping up and being vocal or taking charge, that’s usually my role I’m never hesitant to do that and I think that stems from soccer – naturally rising to leadership positions on the field.
Can you speak more on the early stages and pressure of modeling in New York?
To this day it’s not always fun, it’s a difficult and taxing job… New York is an amazing place and full of potential but it’s a tough place to live you know, everyone from everywhere trying to make their own thing happen… I’m such a nature girl at heart too so I like to play sports, be submersed outdoors, at the beach, go hiking, etc. Being 17 it was definitely challenging and a lot to handle, I was living in my agency’s model house at the time which luckily was a very nice environment. I was, and still am, fortunate to have strong practices in my Faith that guided me but if you’re not careful the city can really consume you
What are your thoughts on the “Industry Standards” of modeling?
Unfortunately, Industry Standards for high-fashion editorial modeling are very difficult, those are the girls that are 5’10-6’0, certain hip, bust, and waist measurements and there are very few women in this world that will maintain that from adolescence to more mature years. it’s a lot of work and it still to this day causes me stress even, because it’s a very specific physique to maintain and clients aren’t lenient.
Do you think the “Industry Standards” will change in the future?
I think the industry will be forced to change, the push for body inclusivity is major so it’s bound to happen and it needs to happen, but the fashion industry is a very exclusive environment that has been that way for a while so we will see I guess
What do you think will happen with modeling after this pandemic?
We’re going to see decentralization after this pandemic, things may be clustered in places like New York or LA… but you will see more up and coming cities having a prevalent voice… I’m excited to see that change, I hope to see more empowerment on the local level like smaller communities you know – you shouldn’t have to be in New York or LA to be considered great at your craft. There’s so much talent in places such as VB or RVA.
What’s your dream shoot or campaign to model in?
There’s a lot, I am still fairly new to it honestly, but I would love to be apart of a big set – like something for Vogue, Harper Bazaar or even do like a seasonal look book or editorial campaign for one of the major fashion houses, that would be a lot of fun
What is plant-spirit?
An evolutionary lifestyle brand for plant forward-thinking, community, sustainability, and well being. My sister and I started it and I’m looking forward to it just continuing to change and that’s what I love about it, I want it to be flexible and very diverse. Being certified in plant-based nutrition, I have all this information that I want to share with people.
How was your diet growing up?
My diet growing up was definitely a “free-for-all” I used to BODY Baconators, I was so active that I really could eat anything. but when I turned 13 my older-sister came home from college one day and was like she’s going vegetarian and I totally gave her crap for it but she continued to expose me to more information she learned and then one day when I was in Alaska I watched a documentary and from there I started cutting things out, the order was Red Meat, Dairy Products, Chicken and Fish was last to go, but I’m a firm believer in gradual small steps you know, progress not perfection
When did you officially go plant-based?
I was 16 when I went plant-based
Thoughts on the Vegan Community and their approach?
In order for continued push and change in the vegan community I think people will have to be more encouraging in taking steps… you know whatever we can do to make our lifestyles more sustainable for the environment, decrease the number of animals being slaughtered, and to be honest I don’t think we were made to cut out animal products entirely, I more so feel that modern conventional meats are harmful to not only our health but planetary health. In today’s western world, 7/10 leading causes of death are linked to nutrition which leads back to saturated fats (responsible for plaque buildup on the endothelial layer of our vessels and arteries) which are only found in animal by-products or processed foods.
What are your thoughts on spirituality?
I fully believe everyone is a spiritual being, there is a universal energy that binds us all. My personal roots are based in Christianity, and always will be, which is how I was raised but there are also many books and practices that I use to assist in connecting me more to the Creator.
How do you stay sane with such a busy schedule?
It’s super full time so my downtime, I take it to myself because New York is such a social scene… any time I get to myself I take full advantage of. I also am fortunate to come home and spend some time with family but overall I think balance is key. Everyone finds solace in their own thing, I love group workouts, journaling and once again spending time with my family/loved ones.
How do you feel about communal life overall going forward after the pandemic?
I was thinking about this earlier, God bless everyone who is dealing with the virus directly in New York and other areas heavily saturated with it. But I think we all should be excited about 2.0 you know like we are literally here to genuinely connect with one another to be co-creative rather than consumptive, I’m looking forward to everyone uniting and coming together to produce stronger and more fruitful communities. I am hopeful for what the future holds, lots of potential!