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Lights, camera, action...

Eight-year-old Platte City girl has chance to be a star

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Lights, camera, action.

For eight-year-old Lacey Backues of Platte City, these words she heard two years ago as a fun weekend on the Plaza in Kansas City turned into a possible chance of lifetime many eight-year-olds could only imagine.

Two years ago, Lacey went on a modeling shoot offered by a Kansas City modeling agency, which turned out to be a dead end. The experience, which came as a suggestion from a friend of Lacey's parents, was only meant to be a one time fun activity for their daughter. Instead, the experience spurred Backues into a natural in front of the camera.

According to Karen Backues, Lacey's mom, the eight-year-old couldn't stop talking about her experience at the Plaza that day which prompted the family to check into a referral of an accredited modeling and talent agency in the Kansas City area.

In July of 2001, Lacey went to an audition offered by the John Robert Powers Agency in Mission, Kan. with approximately 200 kids present. After auditioning, Lacey was chosen as one of two children to be signed by the agency.

After five months of classes working on monologues and becoming accustomed to being in front of the camera, Lacey and her family traveled to Los Angeles, Ca. for 12 auditions.

Jan. 7-12, Lacey was one of 3,000 kids ranging from the ages of 4-20, who had traveled from across the world to audition at the IMTA (International Modeling and Talent Agency)-Hooray for Hollywood 2002.

"Originally we took her for modeling because she's such a beautiful little girl and is so unique in that way," said Karen. "But once she got to the auditions, she placed very well in the acting categories.

"We didn't go in anticipation of winning and we prepped her for not receiving callbacks and placing in the competitions."

But despite the family's preparation for what may have been the inevitable, Lacey walked away from the auditions with seven trophies and five excellence ribbons.

"The auditions were definitely an experience she'll never forget and it gave her a sense of herself," stated Karen.

After receiving a great response at the auditions, the family decided to sign with a manager, Debra Lynn Findon from Studio City, Ca, as well as a theatrical/movie agent with Metropolitan Agent and KSA Models, a print agent.

Once the family returned to Platte City, Lacey received over 20 call- backs from talent and modeling agencies in Los Angeles and New York.

Karen said the family was never expecting that kind of response once the auditions were over, instead, their intention was to go out to LA and let Lacey enjoy the auditions.

The callbacks prompted the family to make a difficult decision on where they should go next. They were faced with uprooting their family and surroundings to let Lacey pursue her love for the modeling and acting business, which expanded since day one at the Plaza, or placing the opportunity off to the side for awhile.

"It's a lot of sacrifices from all of us and her brother for her to go to LA. She's been fearless in wanting to do this and she's been pushing us wanting to do this," said Karen.

"After a lot of thought we decided it's a unique opportunity and we would have to live with ourselves if we didn't let her go do this because this is something she really wants to do."

In February, Lacey will temporarily relocate to Los Angeles for pilot season through April. Karen and Lacey's stepfather, Bryan Keil, will take turns traveling to LA to spend with Lacey during her tenure in Los Angeles.

While Lacey has received an opportunity that many eight-year-old kids only dream and wish about, she is the typical American eight-year-old girl.

She idolizes Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen as well as Britney Spears and loves to play the goalie position on her soccer team, play Barbies with her friends, and enjoys playing the piano, fingerpainting and drawing.

Backues stated that while she likes both modeling and acting, she would prefer to be on television.

"I want to be on TV because I want to be famous and I think it would be fun," stated Lacey. "I would like to be on a show like Mary Kate and Ashley."

In case the acting or modeling opportunities don't work out, Backues commented she would like to be a kindergarten teacher or a director of a modeling agency.

According to Karen, no matter what comes of pilot week her family will be proud of her.
"I don't need anyone telling me she's special, I know she is," Karen said.