I thought I would share some tips and knowledge that I learned along the way when I was working full-time as a fashion model. I have a young cousin who is interested in entering the world of fashion modeling, and talking to her about it has prompted me to jot down some things every newbie in the industry should know….
1. Legitimate agencies will NEVER ask you for any money upfront. Agencies make their money by charging you a comission (20% for print and 10% for commercials) on every job you do. They will advance you the cost of travel, tests, comp cards, lodging, etc. and these expenses will then be taken out from your earnings.
2. The average height for a female model is between 5’8″ and 5’11” and for male models it is 5’11” to 6’1″. There are exceptions made once in a while. Kate Moss, Devon Aoki, Beri Smither, Letitia Casta and a few others have been able to break into and work quite well in the fashion industry at 5’7″. Body proportion is key with measurements of 34-24-34 for female models being considered the most desireable, again, exceptions can and are made as long as you are proportionate.
3. The younger the better. I hate to say it, but it’s true. Although for catalog modeling, which is very lucrative although oftentimes unglamorous, models between the ages of 25-35 are highly sought after. Commecial print models can work well into their senior years as well. But if you want to be a “top model” younger really is better. Agencies and clients love babies.
4. There are many, many markets besides New York and Los Angeles for modeling in. Some of these include Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Milan, Paris, London, Munich, Hamburg, Barcelona, Madrid, Capetown, Vienna, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Taipei, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney…tehlist goes on. Once you acquire an agency in your hometown, they will them work as your “mother agency” and will be able to place you in the whichever of the markets I mentioned above that they think you would work best in.
5. A healthy body, clear skin, and healthy hair are also key. Heroin chic is long gone and models now tend to have a bit more curves and muscle tone. Hair shouldn’t be over permed or processed. When you are starting out, go into your agency like a blank slate. Let the agents decide what hairstyle will work best with your look and for the clients in their market and go with it. They know what they are talking about. You do not want to show up to a casting with bleached hair and mall bangs. Seriously. (this goes for guys as well).
6. Internet modeling agencies are scams. Period.
7. Never go to a photoshoot with an unknown photographer if your agency has not set up the shoot for you. There are a lot of shady people who will do anything to get a young guy or girl alone and undressed or worse. The beauty of working witha legit agency is that they have relationships with all of the clients and photogs that they use and won’t send their models to work with just anybody.
8. When traveling aborad to work as a model, know that you will be living in tiny, oftentimes dirty, apartments with several other models. This is normal. Modeling when you aren’t a “top” is work and not always glamorous.
9. If an agency turns you down, don’t be discouraged. Continue to go to open calls or submit your photos to other agencies. Everyone has a different niche to fill and if you have what it takes you will eventually get signed. Persistance and a tough skin is key to success in this business.
10. If you are a mother and have a young teen who wants to model, by all means be supportive of her. But please make sure to go with yoru daughter to whatever location or market she is sent to for work. I have seen far too many 14 year old girls being offered coke and booze my lecherous old men at night clubs where being a pretty girl is the only trump card you need to get you past the bouncer regardless of your age. It is NOT the agencies’ responsibility to chaperone your child.
I’m sure I’ll think of more items to add to this list….but this will have to do for tonight! Modeling is by far one of the most exciting jobs I have ever had. The good has always outweighed the bad in my case, but you really have to go into it with a level head and knowing that it isnt always going to be easy.