Aspiring models — and parents of potential models — will be watching Miss Universe pageant closely on January 25. Possibly the pinnacle of modeling will take place in Miami on that night. Glued to the television will be girls that one day want to be a model as well as parents who think their precious, precocious child is a future Miss Universe — or at least a sure fit for the Ford Agency.
If they’re not careful, they may be heading towards financial ruin instead.
Not much in life can be more flattering that being approached in a store and told, “You should be a model.” People have often said you’re good looking and now someone hands you their business card and tells you to call them to set up an appointment.
It’s true that some models have been discovered in mundane places like malls, clubs, airports and stadiums, but most of would-be models go from agency-door to agency-door, day after day, before any work comes their way.
So what should you do — and realize?
If you do make the appointment, you’ll more than likely find yourself in an office running over with other hopefuls. Then, the door to the inner-sanctum opens and the sales spiel begins. What you believed was a job interview with an agency has morphed into a high-pressure pitch for modeling classes or “photo shoots” that will empty your pocket of several hundred or several thousand dollars.
It doesn’t matter if the target is a man, woman or child. “Talent scouts” don’t care, they’re after one thing — your money — and they have been trained to tell you just about anything to get it. What they say isn’t always what they mean and what they mean, isn’t always what they say.
What They Say and What They Mean
We’re looking for people with your “look”
I need to sign up a bunch of people quickly. My paycheck depends on it.
Your deposit is completely refundable.
Your deposit is refundable only if you meet very strict conditions
You must be specifically selected for our program.
We take just about anyone.
There’s a guaranteed refund if we don’t accept you
Everyone is accepted. Forget the refund.
You can’t afford our fees? No problem.
We demand payment, whether we find you work or not.
Commissions from our clients are how we get paid.
Our income comes from the fees we charge you.
Avoid a Rip-Off
Agencies including, Bonnie and Betty, Boss, BubbleGum Casting and Bruce and Brown have put together modeling tips as well as a list of things to watch out for. If you’re approached to be a model or to become the next Hollywood Star, pause, take a breath and think a moment. Remembering to do some basic due diligence could save you thousands of dollars. You should:
Ask yourself, “Why me?” Don’t let the company’s flattery take over. Think critically about how you were approached and how many others may have been approached in the same mall that you were.
Run from any high-powered sales tactics. Always read and understand any documents that you are asked to sign. Better yet, ask for a blank copy to take home and review with someone you trust. If the “agent” balks, walk away.
Be wary of claims about how much money you will make. Small markets may bring a model $75 to $100 an hour — but the work isn’t steady.
Get names, addresses and phone numbers of models for whom the agency has secured work — recently.
Understand that different parts of the country have different needs. New York is known for fashion modeling while the Washington DC area is known for training films.
Get it all in writing. Even if promises were made orally, make sure the agency will back them up in writing.
Keep copies of everything — such as your contract and company literature — in a safe place.
Note to Parents of Infants and Toddlers
So, you believe your child is perfect material to be a model. Bogus talent scouts do also. They’ll be more than happy to set up a “professional” photo shoot to help you get modeling jobs for your child. Of course, they don’t explain that the market for child models is very limited. They also won’t tell you that since a child’s looks change, the photos will become outdated. Across the industry, relatively few infants are marketed with professional photos. Typically, advertising agencies and legitimate agents ask for casual snapshots of infants that have been taken by family members.