Merrick's Ali Lohan, 17, younger sister of actress Lindsay Lohan, has signed a modeling contract with a major agency.

Talking up his newest client Tuesday, Alexis Borges, a director of Next Model Management, told E! News, "In fashion, Ali will set herself apart as a bona fide icon -- one that fashion fans will follow not because of her famous last name, but because of the beautiful images and fashion trends she is helping create." The firm's roster has included Miranda Kerr, Jamie King, Milla Jovovich and Molly Simms.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"We're so happy -- we signed the contract Friday," Dina Lohan, Ali's mother and manager, told Newsday. "Lindsay is proud of her little sister and her brothers are so proud of her."

She said she believes Ali, who is signed with Next's Los Angeles office, will face an easier path than her sister. "I kind of know the ropes by now from what we've been through with the tabloid attacks on us," Dina Lohan said.

With her Twitter page now listing her profession as "model," Ali Lohan, 17, posted Sunday night that she was "Off too bed. . . . Shoot in the AM . . . focusing on modeling now."