The boy who defied odds after a 1999 shooting that left his mother dead and left him with cerebral palsy and brain damage is now a happy, adjusted adult who loves to smile and …
A teen with cerebral palsy, whose also the daughter of a famous UK footballer, Phil Neville, fulfilled her dream recently when she started modeling. And she’s just 13.
The Mirror reports that Isabella Neville was not only signed by UK modeling agency, Source Models, but she’s the first person ever signed with company who has a disability. Isabella, known affectionately as Izzy to her friends, wore splints to aid her in walking for ten years. But at age 13, she’s ready to be a “normal teen.”
“She doesn’t want special treatment or special help – she just wants to be normal, and she strives to be that every single day,” said mom, Julie.
At the same time, however, Julie said that she doesn’t want the public to think they forced Isabella into anything. Modeling is something Isabella dreamed of doing, and her parents are simply helping her achieve that dream.
“It is difficult for Philip and I – we want to protect Isabella, we don’t want people to think we are wheeling her out. What we are doing is trying to enable our daughter to fulfill her dreams like any other little girl her age,” Julie said.
Isabella, born 10 weeks prematurely, almost didn’t survive. When she turned 18 months old, doctors said she’s never walk and diagnosed her with cerebral palsy. Isabella proved them wrong. Not only did she learn to walk, but with the help of leg braces, she also played sports and went to dance lessons. As a teen, her goals changed. She loves keeping up with fashion and following supermodels on Instagram. When one of friends became a model, Isabella realized her dream.
“Isabella is at that age now where she and her friends are following all the supermodels – she loves reading fashion magazines and follows them all on Instagram. She has a little friend who is a model, and one day Isabella said to be, ‘Mummy I would love to be a model, but I don’t think anybody would be interested in taking me on’,” Julie said.
Isabella is still surprised, according to Julie, that a mainstream modeling agency took interest in her. Director David Gibbs of Source Models said that although they’ve worked with someone with a disability, it was Julie’s commercial looks and naturalness in front of the camera that convinced the agency to sign her.
“We get about 300 applications a month and we are very choosy who we take on – we turn down most people. When I saw Izzy’s model card I had no idea who she was or that she had cerebral palsy. I just thought she looks great – she has a commercial look. I treat every application the same way – do they have a commercial look? And Izzy does and we have decided to represent her,” Gibbs said.
However, Phil and Julie are aware of how tough a modeling career can be, and much more so for a child with cerebral palsy. They are keeping an open mind, but they also hope that this is beginning of a long career for Isabella, and hopefully will pave the path to bigger modeling opportunities. At the same time, however, they are making sure that they protect Isabella, while helping her achieve her goals.
“What we are doing is trying to enable our daughter to fulfill her dreams like any other little girl her age, whilst protecting her at the same time and continuing to instill in her there is nothing she can’t achieve.”