“What If?”: Eleane Flores & Her Journey to Stardom


Photo Provided

Eleane Abigail Flores before her audition to International Modeling & Talent Association. (IMTA). Flores is an RLHS senior determined to make it bit in the modeling and acting world.

Flor Leon, Staff Writter

In every “what if” situation, Eleane Abigail Flores takes it as a challenge rather than an option. Growing up in a small north suburban town like Round Lake Beach, it’s rare to stand out or do something big. The 17-year-old  senior at Round Lake High School is determined to do both.

At 16, Flores began attending regular acting classes at Model Acts Studios in Schaumburg, Illinois.  In less than six months, she made her way into the world’s top modeling and talent agency, the International Model and Talent Association (IMTA). With so much accomplished, same goes to Flores still being a full time student.

Flores’s interest in performing and modeling began when she was nine years old. “The first reason I wanted to be famous was to be on Disney Channel with the glow stick,” Flores said with a laugh. “But then it turned into something bigger because I started to sing and I would always sing to ‘Hannah Montana’.”

On a chilly day in mid-October, Flores, her mother, and little sister are stuck in rush-hour traffic during her hour-and-a-half commute to get to her acting class in Schaumburg. Most people would be deterred by the drive alone, but not Flores. “I’m a very ambitious person,” she said. “When I want something and I really believe it can happen or if it’s possible, I go for it. When I had this opportunity, I thought this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, take it or leave it so I went forward with it.” Flores could not have been any more glad she did it.

Flores is one of 300 students enrolled at Model Act Studios, but only nine of those students had the opportunity to make it to IMTA, a very prestigious professional association for models and actors. Flores said that the competition to get into IMTA was one of the most stressful she’s ever experienced. She doubted herself auditioning at first because she didn’t receive call backs to her previous five auditions. On top of that, a boy in her acting class had been confidently talking about how many callbacks he had been receiving. Dealing with her rejection, Flores’s self-confidence plummeted and she wasn’t sure she wanted to go through with the audition for IMTA. But Flores’s mother encouraged her to go through with it.

Flores remembered being in the bathroom after the IMTA audition ended because she had a feeling she wasn’t going to make the cut, and she was preparing herself for reality. Then the unexpected happened. “This girl that I was kinda in competition with told me that [when the judges called your name, you didn’t make the cut],” Flores said. Flores was certain her name had been called and began to look for her mother to leave, but then the girl said, “‘Oh, your name didn’t get called; you stayed!’”

Flores’s acting coach, Laura Orrico, a former talent personality and an acting coach for Model Act Studios, was confident in Flores’s ability. “When it comes to IMTA, it is a big deal,” she said. “We couldn’t send just anybody to the association; we select our top students because it’s a lot of time and effort not only from them, but also from us and the parents. It wouldn’t be worth sending someone that isn’t completely motivated and Eleane definitely gives Model Act Studios a good name.” 

There have been plenty of unbelievable moments for Flores, but some were not always positive. While Flores was in elementary school, she would move constantly move due to her father’s drug dealing and gang-related business. Although she was aware of what was going on around her, there was never a real settling down for Flores. All the moving around never made her comfortable with her surroundings, but at the same time, it felt normal for her. She said, “He would have parties and cops would always show up. I didn’t know why they took him away but I thought ‘Oh they’re taking him away and he’ll come back in a couple months,’ which is what always happened. He would always come home but the last time he got out, he went to Mexico instead of home.” Flores admits the last time he saw him was in jail when she was nine years old.

In total, Flores moved 12 times throughout her childhood. She said, “We were so used to moving around that honestly it wasn’t a big deal to us. To other people it must be because I hear ‘I lived in my house all my life’ and for me, every home after, only just a year or a year-and -a-half.” Her father’s action were not the best influence, but encouraged Flores to be more independent and mature herself so she can be as prominent as the person she is today.

Although her childhood had significant bumps on the road, Flores kept her head up and found her place in Model Act Studios, as well as IMTA. “Eleane works really hard and puts hard effort in her work,” said Orrico. “She has a great voice, a different voice and the motivation she brings is outstanding. My best three words to describe her is confident, beautiful, and talented.”

Flores says that her best moment was her first commercial.  “Even though I’m not a shy person, being in front of other people that also got accepted into the company makes me think, ‘What if they’re better than me?’” Flores said. A couple months in, Orrico told her that she was really progressing and proud of her. Flores said “Just the fact that other people can see it, really made it my best moment because I became more confident in my work.”

Flores’s hard work and ambition paid off when she received the opportunity to work on the FOX television drama series “Empire.” This was a huge opportunity for Flores, yet she had her doubts at first. She said, “ I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make that gig because I’m new and there’s other kids that been here for a couple years, why would I make it if I’m less experienced?” Luckily, Flores went through with the audition and made the cut.

In August, Flores headed out to the “Empire” set in Chicago with a suitcase full of clothes and a heart full of determination, that, as it turned out, was very necessary. A day of filming for “Empire” was overwhelming for Flores. She was an extra in a nightclub scene  for season three, episode three, which was titled “What Remains Is Bestial.” She had to wear full hair and makeup for hours and hours. In total, a one minute scene took fours hours to complete, plus twelve hours of getting ready.

Flores returned home from Chicago and began to remove her makeup, prepare for bed, and get ready for school the next day. Despite all the long hours of work and exhaustion, Flores was still upbeat.“To many people, they don’t think it’s worth it…to spend so much time and only be featured once or not as much on the show, but I know you can’t start big right away,” she said. “It’s simple scenes like this that help push me to the top. You have to have a starting at some point.” A full time student with more photo shoots, acting classes and casting ahead of her, she will push herself until she is the star she is determined to be.