LIGHTS, CAMERA … FAMILY!
By Chris Wadsworth
When you think of the world of modeling, you probably picture beautiful people, bright lights and glamorous locations while the cameras flash. What you probably don’t envision is – to put it delicately – doggie doo-doo.
“One time four of us got booked for a Virginia Beach tourism shoot,” said Broadlands mom Elaine Keltz. “We were supposed to look like a content and happy family sharing a picnic dinner overlooking a lake and right as we start in, a dog pulls up – out of camera shot, but right near us – and poops.”
The family did the best they could not to react or laugh, but Keltz also says she never saw those photos appear anywhere. “I’m going to assume they didn’t make the cut,” she said.
Ah, such is the life of the typical family next door – a family that also spends a lot of time in front of cameras.
The Keltz Family consists of dad Billy; mom Elaine; son Jaden, 16; daughter Nina, 14, and daughter Alyssa, 13.
You may have spotted Elaine recently because she has taken on one of her most high-profile jobs yet. At press time, she is co-hosting “Great Day Washington,” a morning lifestyle show on WUSA-TV Channel 9, the local CBS affiliate. She’s filling in for regular host Ellen Bryan, who is on maternity leave.
She calls it a long-time dream come true. “I couldn’t break into the D.C. morning show scene – and I tried. But there are only so many stations, and each has their morning show with established hosts. So, I kept doing other things and when the opportunity came, I went for it.”
The other things Elaine mentions include a resume filled with jobs that put her in front of the public. After nearly a decade in pharmaceutical sales, she entered the Mrs. D.C. America contest in 2015 – and won. This pivot point in life led to gigs hosting several shows on Comcast’s community cable channel, appearing in commercials for real estate brokers, car dealerships and jewelry stores and even acting in some locally produced films.
“Looking back, I really think it was my experience as a drug rep that prepared me for a career in media. I learned how to be a good ‘people person.’ I learned how to charm my way through a door,” she said. “I learned to be tenacious, not give up and to take ‘no’ with a grain of salt. I learned to have a thick skin.”
But it wasn’t just Elaine who was smitten with the bright lights of television and commercial work. Her kids took notice, and each in their own way has pursued a similar path.
Nina, a freshman at Briar Woods High School, may be the most serious about it at this point. She has an agent and is regularly hired for modeling jobs around the region – including high-fashion shoots and runway modeling.
“My first modeling experience was when I walked a runway for a nonprofit organization when I was 5 years old,” Nina said. “I had so much fun … I wasn’t nervous at all.”
Nina has been hired several times by Spirit Halloween, the big Halloween décor and costume store. When you’re looking for a kid’s costume online, she’s one of the young people you see on the Spirit website modeling the crazy outfits.
“I was so thrilled to be cast for Spirit Halloween,” she said. “It was my first solo shoot I had ever done, and it was cool because I had to get into character and do fun poses that went with the costume.”
Jaden, a sophomore at Briar Woods, and Alyssa, an eighth-grader at Eagle Ridge Middle, have agents as well and get their fair share of jobs, too – bookings they try to balance with sports, schoolwork and hanging with friends.
“It’s a funny thing – sometimes my son gets booked a ton and Nina will say, ‘He doesn’t even really like it’ – although he does,” Elaine said. “Or Alyssa will get booked on a series of campaigns, but she doesn’t feel like missing school and Nina says, ‘I’ll go.’”
Billy Keltz, whose day job is an account director with an area software company, doesn’t mind being pulled into the family business when it’s called for. He enjoys seeing his wife and kids doing something they really enjoy.
“When they need a back-up dad, this real dad is happy to help out,” he said.
The old saying about ducks looking serene on the surface, but underwater they are paddling furiously might best describe the Keltz family during any given week – so many different schedules to manage.
“I love being a ‘momager,’” said Elaine, referring to the mashup of “mom” and “manager.”
“It’s really no different from managing the sports schedule and the home/school shuffle. It’s a lot of juggling, [but] somehow we’ve made it work. We work together a lot and it’s been a lot of fun. Long car rides to set locations, overnights and free snacks on set make for great bonding with the kids. Also, it’s funny when I’m hired to ‘act’ as their mom on a shoot. I am their mom.”