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Lindsay Lohan has been called many things over the course of her tumultuous career, but to Aliana “Ali” Lohan, she’s just “big sis.” Four days after Lindsay checked herself into the Betty Ford Center in Palm Desert, Calif., for a court-mandated rehab stint, the younger Lohan spoke fondly of their relationship. “We always have good sister-bonding time,” Lohan says, her raspy voice identical to Lindsay’s signature croak. “Whenever we see each other, we’re always talking about clothes and all girly things, you know?”

Now 19, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and an aspiring model, Ali insists she’s just like any other girl her age — despite growing up Lohan. “I like to surf. I like to play guitar,” Lohan says. “I want to do college classes online. I wanted to do marine biology for a long time, but I don’t know. For now, I just want to focus on modeling.”

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Newly signed with Wilhelmina Models in New York, Lohan is doing just that. After an extended stay crashing at Lindsay’s in Los Angeles (“She’s a good roommate,” the younger Lohan says) and a trip abroad to Korea where she booked an Elle Korea gig, Lohan is back in New York, where she’s living on Long Island with her brother Dakota, 16, and her mother Dina, whom Lohan describes as “the best mom ever.”

Clad in the standard model uniform (dark skinny jeans, leather jacket, black moto boots), the lanky brunette is all heavy bangs and striking cheekbones, barely recognizable from the tween-next-door last seen trailing behind her big sister. Yet despite her hipsterized makeover, Lohan makes no attempt to hide her excitement over beginning to build her portfolio, frequently gushing over recent test shoots and upcoming go-sees.

For Lohan, Lindsay’s struggles have only become an inspiration of sorts when it comes to her own pursuit of “fame.”

“I want to make the most out of the word…” she says. “I want to do good things with my fame, or whatever it is.”

WWD: How did you get started with Wilhelmina?
Ali Lohan:
My agency in L.A., Next, reached out and was saying that it’s an option because I wanted to live in New York City, because that’s where my family is. I was meeting with a lot of agencies and I met with Wilhelmina and that’s where I felt most comfortable, so I signed with them last week. It was all very recent.

WWD: You modeled in Korea for a bit last summer — how was that?
I was there for two months, and it was an amazing experience. It was my first time in Asia. I got to try Korean barbecue, which was awesome. You can try it here, but it’s not the same. Everything was amazing. The shoots, the clothes, the makeup, the hair — it just blew my mind.

WWD: You’ve dabbled in acting and singing before. Why the focus on modeling?
I just love that you can express yourself through a photograph. It just captures every moment. I mean, the clothes — that’s not bad either. Music is always going to be a hobby of mine, but I think this is definitely what I want to do now.

WWD: How has being in the spotlight with such a famous family affected your career?
I would just like to be known as my own person. I don’t need to ride on any coattails. I just want to make my mark myself. I definitely have to prove myself — just showing up on time and doing everything that you’re supposed to do.

WWD: Has Lindsay given you any advice?
Of course. She just says the main thing is to do your best and to do what you love. We’re very close and speak very often. Well, the last time we spoke, I guess, was two weeks ago, so kind of often. But yeah, she’s awesome.

WWD: Lindsay just checked into rehab. Are you going to visit her?
Yeah, she’s in California. Yeah, so she’s there and I’m going to be visiting her at the end of the month for some family time.

WWD: Have Lindsay’s troubles made you wary of pursuing fame?
I want to make the most out of the word ‘fame.’ I want to do good things with my fame, or whatever it is. I want to help and do charity work. There’s something going on in Chile right now with the water, so I think I’m going to down there in a month to help out. My grandfather worked with charities his whole entire life, and we grew up living with him. He always told me about the other side of the world and everything that’s going on.

WWD: Do you feel that you have the stigma of “Lindsay Lohan’s sister”?
No, not at all. I feel like I’m Aliana and I’m just trying to work like every other model. I don’t want to be put on any platform. And I don’t think that I have been.

WWD: What would people be most surprised to learn about your family?
That we’re just like any other family. We’re close, we love each other and we have arguments like any other family. At the end of the day, I only trust my family. I feel that so many things have happened, but at the end of the day, they’re always going to be there for you.

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