The way Amy Donia, of Stoystown, tells it, her 14-year-old daughter Jillian, an aspiring model and actress, has a way of lighting up the room.
It’s a trait that she and husband Angelo Donia noticed at an early age.
“We noticed at a young age that Jillian comes alive on stage,” Donia said. “Even from a competitive dance perspective, when she gets on stage, she’s transformed. It’s amazing to watch.”
All eyes will be on Jillian when she models on July 31 during a new fashion event and reality show in Cincinnati, Ohio, “The Collective.”
Jillian will be paired with one of 15 designers. She will close the show with the much-anticipated final walk of the night. It is all part of an event that runs July 29 to Aug. 1.
“I’m thrilled,” said Jillian, bright-eyed and beaming with confidence. “I just like to entertain people, especially when the adrenaline is there and the lights hit you.”
Jillian is a student at Somerset Christian School. She also attends Stage Right! Performing Arts School in Greensburg, where she is active in its musical theater program.
Jillian has been involved in the arts since she was 4 years old, studying ballet, tap dancing and acting. She is represented by Katalyst Talent Agency in Edgewood, Kentucky, and Avalon Artists Group in Los Angeles, California. She auditioned in Cincinnati for a spot on “The Collective” on March 27.
She recalled the excitement of competing with 400 models.
“I walked up to the desk at the Cincinnati hotel and they gave me number 209,” Jillian said during an interview on Wednesday at Panera Bread at Richland Town Center.
Jillian said she filled out the needed paperwork and waited for her name to be called.
“They measured me, my shoulders, my head, my wrists, everything,” she said. “They had us in groups of nine, all different ages, sizes and races.”
The group then went before a panel of judges, including Amy Bond, producer of the Netflix series “Next in Fashion,” and Ty Hunter, personal stylist for American singer and songwriter Beyonce.
Jillian said she walked down the carpet.
“You pose, go to the left, go to the right, come back and stop,” Jillian said.
She waited a few weeks to hear if she made the cut.
Jillian said she had just finished a theater workshop in Greensburg one Saturday about three weeks ago. She climbed into the car and her mom broke the news.
“I was ecstatic and I kind of screamed,” Jillian said. “I was afraid someone would hear me because the windows were down. I literally couldn’t hold back the adrenaline. I’m very happy and appreciative that they noticed me. Coming from a small town, it just felt great.”
“The Collective” is publicized as a show focused on staging a high-tech fashion week with a select group of celebrity designers. Part of the project includes following the journeys of the models who have been paired with the designers. This will open up opportunities for them to begin their careers and get exposure to the fashion world.
Donia said what makes “The Collective” unique is that they are not looking for cookie-cutter models who are all 5-foot-7 and weigh 110 pounds. Jillian is 5-foot-2.
“From a female perspective, it represents true people in fashion, different ages, sizes, races and genders,” she said. “It’s groundbreaking.”
Jillian said she is grateful for her parents and the support of her best friend, Shilo Petrilla, of Boswell.
“We’re two of a kind,” Jillian said. “She’s just so supportive. She believes that I can achieve my goals.”
Viewers can purchase tickets in person and live-stream tickets for “The Collective” through eventbrite.com by searching for “The Collective Fashion Show.” Anyone that attends or watches the livestream will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite designer and model.
Follow “The Collective” and Jillian through Instagram, via @thecollectivefashionshow and @jilliandonia.