The famous child model reminisces about her very first gig for Time Out Kids.
Tue Apr 20 2010
We're not bragging—okay, maybe just a bit—but we helped launch Fatima Ptacek's career. Today, the charismatic nine-year-old from Queens is one of the most sought-after kid models in the industry, and has been profiled in The New York Post and on the CBS's Early Show. Back in 2005, Time Out Kids gave Ptacek her big break as our November-December issue cover girl and in a winter-clothes fashion spread. Since then she's made the rounds, appearing in print ads for Gap and Benetton, TV commercials for McDonald's and Bisquick, and even Saturday Night Live. Although she was just four when she posed for us, Fatima remembers the job well (after all, it was her first!). So she and her mom, Lucia, were delighted to stop by our office to pose for a few new pictures and chat about Fatima's success. "It's like dj vu," says Lucia on being here again. "She was very comfortable, even back then. But I was so nervous!" Adds Fatima: "Ah, memories."
You've come a long way since you modeled for Time Out Kids in 2005. What do you remember about that experience?
I remember being in the Time Out office. There were two people interviewing me and I thought, "Wow, this must be a really fancy job. I'm being interviewed!" It was my very first casting [audition] so I was a little nervous, but I also felt like I was going to get the job. When they called a few days later to tell me I had, I screamed my head off!
How did the shoot go?
It was really hot outside and we were wearing winter clothes. I was getting dehydrated!
How did you react when you discovered that you were our cover girl for that issue?
[I found out] when we got the issue in the mail and saw the cover. I thought, that girl looks familiar...Wow, that's me! I was so happy. No one had told me that I was going to be on the cover so it was really exciting.
A lot's happened to you since then. Can you give us a rundown?
I got signed with [famed modeling agency] Wilhelmina and then went on lots more auditions and did a lot of commercials. I've done over 50, including Chase and Disney. I even got to fly to Disney! The Macy's Believe Campaign was my favorite. It [helped to] raise money for children in need. And I've been in a lot of ads—Gap, Ralph Lauren, Children's Place, DKNY and Benetton.
You were in a pair of fake commercials on Saturday Night Live. We love those.
They were so funny! One was a spoof of Pampers. We made them into chewable diapers. It was with Kristin Wiig. The other one was with her, too. I was the "rejected girl." Kristin Wiig was my mom and we were rejected for a loan at a bank.
What was it like being on SNL?
Everyone is really funny. Not just in front of the camera. They are comedians all the time. Oh, and I got to meet Kenan Thompson. He's so funny!
You were also on another iconic NYC show: Sesame Street.
Yes, the episode with Michelle Obama. I look up to her literally both ways—I look up [looking up at the ceiling] and I look up!
What was it like meeting the First Lady?
She was amazing. I actually wrote a letter for her to give to her daughters. I wrote: "Hi. My name is Fatima and I worked with your mom, Michelle Obama. She was very sweet and I'm sure you guys are too. I really like Mr. Obama. I pulled the switch for my dad when he voted."
Wow. Your friends must think your life's pretty cool.
They are so supportive. They're always like, "I'm so proud of you. You look great in this." It's really great to have such good friends.
We hear you're into gymnastics and horseback riding. How do you balance modeling, school and extracurricular activities?
I fit it all in. I have a lot of fun [modeling]. It's not like a job. It's like any of my other activities. I'm just a normal kid. If I have to work in the morning—like the other day when I was on the Early Show—I have to make up all of my schoolwork. I'm actually ahead in my class.
You were born and raised in New York City. What are some of your favorite spots in the city?
I love Central Park. I go ice-skating there with my best friend. Oh, and the Empire State Building. I have a souvenir from there. We went to MoMA recently and saw the Tim Burton exhibit. And I like Borders and Barnes & Noble. I love reading.
Any favorite restaurants?
My favorite coffee place is Sweetleaf in Long Island City. They have really good pastries. I usually get hot cocoa, but sometimes I have sips of my dad's coffee. He doesn't use sugar, so I don't either. I also like Le Pain Quotidien. I love the salmon. I'm licking my lips! Yum.
How about TV shows and musicians?
I love the Jonas Brothers! I guess every young child does.
The Jonas Brothers were actually on Time Out New York's cover last year. They came to our office.
Oh. My. God. You're so lucky. I'm so jealous!
You've met some pretty cool celebrities yourself.
True. I've met Queen Latifah, Nelly, Ciara, Chris Brown and Robert DeNiro.
As a model, you try on lots of snazzy clothes. What brands do you like?
I love all of the Italian companies, especially Patrizia Pepe. They're awesome. I also have True Religion jeans in my closet. I like skirts and shorts better, but when it's cold outside you have to wear pants.
Any advice to kids who want to get into modeling?
Stay unique. And go for it!
How are you unique?
I guess I have something for the camera that not everyone has. But everyone is special in their own way.
Do you plan to continue acting and modeling when you grow up?
Yes. I want to do more movies. I just finished filming The Miracle of Spanish Harlem with Tony Plana, Luis Antonio Ramos and Kate Del Castillo. I've been in other films, but this was a starring role. I also want to be a lawyer and the first female president—if Hillary Clinton doesn't beat me to it!
What's the coolest thing you've gotten to do?
Everything [I do] is cool! Um....probably working with Michelle Obama and being in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I was the first person to ever ride in the sleigh with Santa! Oh, and let me know if the Jonas Brothers come back.