Spotlight: Terry Wells, Co-owner of Alix Adams Model School and Talent Agency

| September 24, 2011
Terry Wells.

Terry Wells.

For the last 62 years, Alix Adams Model School and Talent Agency has worked hard to develop top-level commercial and runway models, actors and spokespeople. It also has worked just as hard to develop its clients’ self-esteem. We spoke to Terry Wells, the co-owner of Alix Adams, to learn about her agency’s unique business philosophy, as well as her involvement with the American Girl Fashion Show, which will be held Oct. 7-9 at Churchill Downs to benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Your agency is 62 years old. How have you changed over the years?

It started in 1949 as a charm school. My husband, Dick (Richard Anderson), bought it in 1979. We’re two separate businesses: the school and the agency. The philosophy of the agency has always been to give the best talent. Our school focuses on self-esteem for young people. And that’s one of the reasons we’re so involved with American Girl. We want kids to be whatever they want to be.

How do you help kids build their self-esteem?

We offer an eight-week class. Some of the kids come in and can’t look you in the eye and tell you their name. Then by the end of the class, they do a commercial in front of everyone. The kids memorize at home a commercial they wrote with their parents. They write a commercial about something they’re passionate about, whether that’s M&Ms, Boo Boo Buddies, or something about computers. They learn about diction, enunciation, voice projection and how to use a microphone.

I always tell them the story of my son. He won a student council election in the fourth grade even though you’re supposed to wait until sixth, seventh and eighth grade (to run). He won because he knew how to use a mic. It’s about believing in something; selling something. And when you believe in something, you have to believe in yourself first.

How did you become involved with the American Girl Fashion Show?

The Hospital foundation came to us, and this will be our fifth year with them. I said I’d do it until we raise half a million dollars and we’re close to $300,000. If there’s anything I’m proud of in my life, it’s that and my children. We’re the No. 1 (American Girl) show in the U.S. in terms of attendance. There are five shows in three days, and we sell out every show.

Why is this fashion show so important to you?

Through the fashion show, we raise money for the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) unit. We actually have three girls in my show who were part of the neonatal unit.

How does it feel to be the sole modeling agency used for the fashion show?

I hope that I’m worthy of the honor. It truly makes us feel like we’re doing what our mission statement has always been – to further the interest of children. I’m truly honored that they entrust this to us.

We bring these American Girl dolls to life. Little girls believe they’re seeing their Molly doll alive. They wait in line up to an hour to get autographs of the dolls. The (models) have mandatory reading. They must read every book about the doll they’re playing. I don’t consider it a “fashion show” as much as I do a performance. We teach the models how to curtsey. There’s a great deal of history in it.

What do you hope both the girls in the audience and the models gain from this experience?

I hope that the girls that come to the show get a sense of that fantasy that only children have about seeing something come to life that they believe in. I hope they understand what we’re doing – that a portion of the money is being given to children who aren’t as healthy as they are.

I remind the models about being humble in terms of this great opportunity they’ve been given. And I hope that my models understand that when the community is good to you, you must give back.

For information on Alix Adams, visit

For information on the American Girl fashion show, call 502.629.KIDS or visit

Fashion Show Info

Preview Party, Friday, Oct. 7: 6 p.m.: Tickets: $50,

Tea Party Fashion Shows featuring historical and contemporary American Girl fashions. Tickets: $35.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 8, noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 9: noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

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Category: Life & Style, The Spotlight

About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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