OKALOOSA COUNTY—Two locals models are hoping for a chance to grace the cover of Maxim magazine.
Leigh Wilson, 38, and Leah Ziegenhorn, 18 both agree winning the Maxim Cover Girl contest would be a step in the right direction for their modeling careers.
"You can still be 38, have three kids, and go after your dreams," Wilson said.
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Wilson, a Crestview resident who is currently in second place in her group, said before she wanted to be a model, she was working as a photographer.
She taught photography to friends and family by using herself as a model, and she eventually began to enjoy it. But, when she received a role as an extra on Vampire Diaries, she "caught the bug."
"I’m on Cloud 9, and I still don’t believe it’s true," she said.
Wilson said she has been impressed by the support of her friends and family as she continues to compete, describing it as a overwhelming and thrilling. She also said it gives her butterflies in her stomach.
"It empowers you," she said. "It makes you feel so strong as a women."
If she wins the contest, she wants to use the money to set up her kids and travel out-of-state to find representation.
Ziegenhorn, a Shalimar resident, who is first place in her group, is still learning the ropes of modeling. Ever since she was little, she wanted to be a model. She said her mom taught her to be who she wants to be and express herself how she chose.
"There are so many people looking out for me," she said.
The contest itself and her modeling career has played a role in her self-esteem, she said.
"It has helped my confidence," she said. "It’s a real positive experience when you’re with the right people."
She said if she wins the Cover girl, she wants to pursue modeling, but also take her family on a "much-needed vacation."
After her mom became ill, she said she had to take more responsibility, and she said she had to mature faster.
"Watching her go through everything with a smile, it shows me I can do anything," she said.
Each year, contestants are placed into different groups, and those groups are narrowed down starting at Top 20 until each group has one winner.
Voting for the Top 10 will end Thursday, June 18, and winners are chosen based on the number of votes received. Anyone with a valid Facebook account can vote once each day, but Warrior Votes can be bought at any time.
The winner of each group will be entered in the semi-finals, and a winner will be chosen from there.