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Frequently Asked Questions...How to Get Started!

I decided to list some of the most frequently asked questions and concerns that most people seem to have about the modeling and acting business. Here's the problem....most people "Don't Listen!" I deal with it every day. Ignorance rules in my industry! Everyone assumes they know something about this business. But the truth is most people have no clue. Their ego clouds any shred of common sense. As a result, most people will make bad decisions which will ultimately end in costly mistakes and poor or no representation. But for those of you who might want to utilize my 30 plus years of experience along with advice from a few other top agents, here are the real answers to the questions and concerns people have. Information is powerful, but the source of the information is even more important.

 

What does a model need to get work in the business?

Irene Marie, former President of Irene Marie in Miami, who discovered supermodel Nikki Taylor says "Models will need to get photos with a fashion photographer that will be recommended by their agent and a composite card. YOUR COMPOSITE CARD IS YOUR BUSINESS CARD. It is what your agent uses to send out to the clients for job opportunities. It is the most important business tool you will use and basically the only thing you will need to start working. If a model wants to do runway work they will need to know how to walk. If they have little experience on the runway, we have them train with one of our top runway models."

Most agents agree; wait until you get with an agency before doing anything, especially with your photos. Don't get portrait or "glamour style" photos, or photos with wedding photographers. They will not work in the modeling business!

 

I heard that if an agency is interested in signing you that you should not have to pay for the pictures you will need to get work?

Karen Lee, Director of Scouting, Elite New York:
"AGENCIES ARE NOT BANKS! Being a model is like having your own business. As an agent, we advise and guide a model so their business will be successful. We direct them to the right fashion photographer to shoot their photos for the market and clientele they will be working with. That's what we do. A model may leave an agency because he or she misses home, is out of shape and gains weight, or just because they don't want to model anymore. So if we advanced money to every model we would be out of business. "
Sometimes there are exceptions to the rule. Some of the major agencies in the big markets like New York and Los Angeles may help a model that they feel has great potential with getting their photos and composite cards done. But this happens for less than 1% of the models starting their career. Any money advanced to a model will be taken out of their first check to pay back the debt they owe to their agency.

 

Is it necessary to attend a modeling school to sign with an agency?

Tony Perkins, Director of Scouting, Next Model Management:
"You do not need to go to a modeling school to be a model. As an agent I look for the "it" factor. We know "it" when we see "it"! Of course a model will need certain things like a composite card and runway ability, but your agency will have specific ideas on how to develop you. That's what makes an agency great. The ability of the agent to find great talent. The better the talent, the better the agency. "

Most agents will agree, no client or agent will ask to see your "modeling diploma" from a modeling school. What they will want to see are professional photos, a composite card and your runway walk.  Modeling schools are in the business of selling classes. Most of them are not agencies. They do not book jobs. They refer to themselves as "self-improvement" classes. They accept anyone who wants to attend, unlike agencies who only will accept someone if their look is right for their clientele and they feel can work in their market. Agencies make money when their models book jobs. Modeling schools make money from every person they sign up to their classes, and the classes can be very expensive. They usually cost   $2000- $3000 plus, and many do not include photos or composite cards (which is what every model will needs to get jobs).

 

Everywhere I go everyone tells me I should be a model or that my child should model. What should I do?

First of all, my response to that question is.... Who is everybody? What you think or what other people think is right for the modeling business as compared to what an agent, a client, or a designer thinks is apples compared to oranges. The average person today has absolutely no clue what looks work in this business. That's why an agent in a major market like New York may see 2,000 plus people to sign ONE! You need to find a credible agent who can tell you if you have a look that can work as a model in the modeling business, not someone who stops you in the mall.

 

What is the difference between between a Major Market and a Secondary Market?

MAJOR MARKETS: Include New York and Los Angeles, then Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Dallas. In a major market there are height and size requirements. A girl must be a minimum of 5'8" (this is not just for runway models). In New York they require a girl to be 5'10". Sizes are 32" - 36" bust, 23" - 24" waist, and 34" - 35" hips. Also, close attention is paid to all of a girl’s physical characteristics - eyes, nose, ears, skin etc., and if there are imperfections she may not be signed. Major agencies scout globally. Competition is fierce because in addition to young women from all over the United States, girls are being brought in from Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Russia, South America and Australia. To work in a major market you will have to relocate to live in that market.

*NOW THE GOOD NEWS......Welcome to the great opportunity of a Secondary Market!
SECONDARY MARKETS (local markets) are smaller markets located throughout the United States. I compare it to a semi-professional market. You don't need the height, size or skill requirements like in a Major Market. It is a more realistic and practical market. I book models and actors all over the United States, giving aspiring talent an opportunity to find work in this business who are not suitable for a Major Market. Ninety–Nine percent (99%) of all models will work in a Secondary Market or will not work at all. A Secondary Market is still a very competitive market. We book all the same type of jobs that they book in Major Markets but we don't have to meet the same requirements. It's like a minor league in baseball.

 

How do I get started? How do I get an interview with an agent?

The first step is to call the agency and ask what their procedure is for someone interested in getting representation to become a model or actor. Secondly, I recommend you go to the agency website. Read about the agency and learn more about their background and clientele. Most agencies have a "Become a Model" page requesting you to fill out information about yourself as well as attaching some basic snapshots. These snapshots should include a full length shot and a headshot. Agents do not want facebook photos of you acting silly or photos with sunglasses, hats, or with a group of friends. You need to stand against a plain wall with natural lighting, hair down like you wear it day to day, no makeup and only wearing jeans and a T- shirt or a simple skirt and blouse. Guys need to wear jeans and a T-shirt.
IMPORTANT: After you submit the form you should follow through and contact the agency to make sure they received your submission. If the agent is interested at that point they will set up an interview to meet you face to face.

 

How does an agent make money in the modeling and acting business?

A model pays their agent a 20% commission on every job they book. This is standard at every major modeling agency in the country. An actor pays their agent a 10% commission on all jobs they book if they are a member of the union Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and working in a union state (for example Los Angeles and New York). Keep in mind to get in the SAG union you will pay a fee of $3,000 to join as well as yearly dues. Actors who work in non-union markets (for example Louisiana) and are not a member of the SAG union pay a 20% commission just like a model. If you are a member of the SAG union and are working in a non union state, you are not allowed to do non-union jobs, which is the bulk of the work in a non-union state. Keep in mind 90% of all actors in the SAG union do not have an agent. Acting is a serious competitive business that requires skill and training.

 

How do I get extra work?

Doing extra work does not involve a skill. It does not qualify you as an actor. Acting requires serious skills. You cannot use this as experience on a resume. You are just a body on a set, a fan in the stadium of a football movie, a person walking on the street in a scene filmed in the city. As an agent I do not handle extra work. Louisiana is a right to work state, meaning there are no union wages for many of the jobs. Extra work in Louisiana will pay approximately $75 - $120 for the day and could be a 12 hour plus day.

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