Elle Drane, the 1st Black Cleopatra for Caesars Palace

As a young girl, Elle Drane remembers having a front row seat to the inner workings of the fashion world.  She would sit excitedly backstage while her mother, former model Janelle Jackson, would prepare to walk the catwalk.  Janelle and her twin sister, Jackie, were well-known models in the eighties, and they were featured in several media outlets throughout the state of California, where Elle was born and raised.  Although her mother never technically encouraged her blossoming daughter to follow in her footsteps, the experiences that Elle witnessed as a child inspired her to do just that.


Participating in many pageants throughout her childhood, Elle won every single one.  Her beauty, poise, and talent were instantly recognized by anyone who came in contact with her.  Acquiring a “winning spirit” from all of her early successes would come to play an important role as she summoned up the confidence to believe in herself time after time during her modeling career. 


“I would advise any aspiring model to believe in herself before she expects anyone else to,” Elle shares.  “That, and she should carefully monitor and consider any actions that she makes, because what you do today has a strong effect on your future.”


Born in Bellflower, California, Elle was raised between Los Angeles and Carson.  Never a shy child, she secured commercials and modeling jobs as an adolescent and into her teen years.  Striking out on her own, Drane bravely began visiting top modeling agencies in the Los Angeles area as soon as she graduated from high school.  Knowing that she had a knack for walking a runway, she took notes as she listened to the agency representatives use industry jargon to describe the potential models.  One model may be considered “too commercial”.  Another may be labeled as “high-fashion”.  She vowed that she would represent both departments equally and in excellence.  Elle was quickly signed to do runway with one of the city’s largest agencies, LA Models, and later Next Model Management signed her for commercial, print, and runway, as well.


Making yet another leap of faith, Elle decided to take a week-long trip to New York City with friends.  A few days into their trip, she visited Major Model Management, one of the city’s top ten modeling agencies.  The entire staff came out to greet her, including President Katia Sherman, and before she knew it, she had been signed.  This remains one of her proudest accomplishments. But it wouldn’t be the last.


In addition to being a natural beauty who possessed the perfect height for the runway and an ideal size for high end designers, Elle has stayed in demand over the years for many reasons.  She has a noticeable hump in her nose that is often praised for giving her a unique look.  Her long flawless legs and prominent collarbones round out her features, along with her piercing almond-shaped eyes.  But this woman’s beauty goes much further than skin deep.


Although many people may have misconceptions about those in the modeling profession, Elle Drane destroys them all.   She has a healthy appetite and does not have to follow a strict diet to maintain her physique.  Far from having a bad attitude or being self-absorbed, Elle is simply proud of who she is and remains a servant of her community in many ways.  Working on the Board of Directors for the Cleota Youth and Women Services, a non-profit organization based in California, Drane works to improve her community by empowering relationships between mothers and daughters.  She has consistently contributed to making the world a better place for hundreds of families through this work.


Drane is an accomplished business owner of Prep Pro Tax and has been for the past five years.  Prep Pro Tax is an accounting company that provides a host of services, including offering financial literacy courses to its’ clients.  She has recently completed a four-year degree in Sociology and Psychological Behavior from California State University Dominguez HIlls, and knows the importance of having an education to pair with her stunning looks. 


In 2013, wanting to expand from California and her comfort zone, Elle decided to move to Las Vegas.  She had never been to the city and needed to branch out.  Pleasantly surprised by all that the Vegas valley had to offer beyond the Strip, such as the mountains and lakes, Drane decided to make our city her own.  She set out to accomplish new goals in her career and recently she has done so in a major way.


On the day of the Caesars Palace casting, Elle was instructed to dress the part and meet the casting directors to audition for the role of Cleopatra.  This would be the first job that Elle would have to demonstrate acting skills rather than just modeling.  She made sure to maintain an elegant and regal disposition as she was considered.


“It helped that I have always thought of myself as a Queen,” Elle states.


The directors spent a large amount of time with her, seeing that although she had never taken any acting classes, she was “a natural”.  She landed the coveted role of Cleopatra in the #LIKEACAESAR ad campaign, making her the very first woman of color to represent the Queen of the Nile in over 53 years for the Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino.  Caesars Palace made a deliberate decision to celebrate diversity in this choice, and Elle Drane is superbly proud to be a part of that decision.


“The secret to my success?  My mother once taught me that my life is like a fist.  If I keep it tightly closed and retain everything for myself, it is hard to receive the blessings that God has for me.  I close off my blessings.  If I remain open and giving and never change who I am, I can be everything God created me to be.”


To learn more about Elle Drane, please go to http://elledrane.com.       


UPCOMING ISSUE:  The glitz & glamour of fashion modeling is the dream of many young girls. The beautiful clothes, working with top designers, oh, and the attention of the camera lens appeals to even the shyest personalities. And if a girl has ever been told she’s pretty, beautiful or has “the look,” this can create a powerful allure and willingness to risk everything to be in the spotlight or on the runway.

But it takes tremendous discipline, incredibly hard work, perseverance, and natural talent to succeed in the modeling industry. This is especially true if you are a young girl of color.


With a roster of talented and very passionate “ones to watch” – including a 13-year old and a married couple, Melanated Modeling Academy has developed a compelling strategy to help young hopefuls stand out and get noticed, right here in Las Vegas.


Melanated Modeling Academy is making a name for themselves and the young “it girls” they represent. Watch for our upcoming exposé when we introduce the two visionary partners behind this new agency, who are pushing the envelope and effectively guiding new careers. Don’t miss their captivating stories in the next issue of The Urban Voice.


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07 Mar 2020

By Naiomi Pitre