A CLOSE LOOK AT MODELING By Eve Matheson
Eve Matheson is a freelance writer, journalist, and author of The Modeling Handbook, a book packed with essential information for both models and parents. Eve has been involved within the modeling and acting world for over 20 years, and her expertise has been gained from an extensive, round-the-world investigative tour in which she interviewed the worldís top modeling agents and scores of other industry professionals. Today, Eve stays in constant touch with industry leaders, gives talks on the business, and frequently judges international modeling and talent competitions.
I recently spoke at an international modeling and talent convention (the MAAI) in New York where I shared the podium with a very successful talent manager from Los Angeles. She spoke about the acting profession, and I spoke about the modeling industry. It was interesting to note how similar the requirements for both professions were and how these two careers have overlapped in recent years. We have seen super models snap up Oscars and Hollywood stars constantly appear in international fashion magazines. In a previous issue, Pageantry focused on the acting world. This time, we will explore the world of modeling.
Modeling is one of the most sought-after careers. Undoubtedly, education is the key to success. ìWhat does it take to become a model?î ìHow do I get started?î Iím asked these two questions all the time. The answer to the first questions requires honest self-evaluation. To become a fashion model, a girl must be 5í9î or taller, fit into a size 6, have good cheek bones, perfect teeth, a happy disposition, and an inner sparkle. A young man must be 6í or taller, fit into a jacket size 40 regular or long, have a 31î-32î waist, 33î-35î sleeve and 15 1/2î-16 1/2î neck.
Modeling means long hours of hard work and rejection on a daily basis. Do you have great stamina, and can your ego tolerate rejection? The first three months of this career venture must be considered a financial investment. Do you have sufficient funds to support this? Launching a career can take months, even years. Is patience one of your virtues?
Modeling is very stressful and insecurity a constant foe. Can you handle stress, and do you have enough self-confidence to overcome the insecurity? Are you photogenic? Are you healthy? Emotionally stable? Do you want this career badly enough to make a total commitment? If you answer these questions honestly, and if you are happy with the results of your self-evaluation, the next step is to learn how to start your career.
Actually, there is no written-in-stone format, but there are a number of approaches depending on your age, height, and where you live. Every aspiring model needs an agent. Why? Agents are in touch with clients all day, every day. They book jobs, negotiate contracts, guide your career at home and overseas, and, most importantly, they collect money for work done. This agent is known as your ìMother Agent.î
If you are 16 or 17, have a couple of snapshots or Polaroids taken by a friend or relative ó a headshot showing face and hair and a bodyshot showing legs. Top agents do not like posed pictures. They like you to look natural. Itís unnecessary at this point to spend a lot of money on photographs. If you live near a major market, such as Dallas, Los Angeles, or Miami, call the major agencies. (You can find them in the classified section of your telephone directory.) Thereís also an excellent book which lists only researched and, therefore, legitimate businesses. It is the International Directory of Model & Talent Agencies & Schools, published by Peter Glenn Publications. Ask if they have open calls and a time set aside each week to see new faces. Take your photographs along at the scheduled times, and make sure that your name, address, and telephone number are on the back of each one. If too many people arrive at the open calls wanting to be seen individually, youíll be asked to leave your pictures to be contacted later. If you donít live near a major market, mail your photos to the agencies and include a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a short letter requesting an interview.
Perhaps you feel that you have all the requirements but are not ready to work in one of these major markets. If this is the case, start at a regional (Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta) or local level, and follow the same procedure. Prospective male models should follow all of the same procedures. However, I would point out that in modeling, there is no equality of the sexes as far as the amount of work available or the money to be earned. Men make less money and have fewer job opportunities. The good news is that a manís career lasts longer. He can work from the age of 19 to 50 or over, whereas the average career span for a female is only five years.
Competitions and model searches can offer excellent opportunities for launching a career, provided they are legitimate and well organized. A modeling-school course can be of great value despite the negative publicity many of them receive. If a school is run by professionals who are, or have been, successfully associated with the modeling profession and who have access to top international agents and casting directors, the benefits will be excellent.
Beware of scams! If anyone stops you in the street or on the beach claiming to be an agent, photographer, or scout, insist on a business card and investigate thoroughly. If you are accepted by a top model agent, you will almost certainly be sent to work in Europe or Japan. Modeling in the fashion cities of the world is like serving an apprenticeship. In Europe especially, there are more fashion magazines and therefore more opportunities to get tear sheets. (As you know, these are pages from magazines which show you at work.) Tear sheets indicate experience and are essential credentials.
In the case of children, careers must be supervised very carefully. School work and activities are very important. It is up to the parent to work with the agent to keep a good balance. Agencies can be found, once again, in the classified pages of your telephone book and in the Peter Glenn publication. Donít spend a fortune on photographs, especially for infants. Children grow and change so quickly. Pictures in your wallet will do fine. Also, donít worry about a missing tooth ó that could be a $100,000 gap! And allow children to be children. No makeup, fancy hairstyles, or over-the-top clothes. Allow them to be natural on the runway, in front of the camera, or onstage. Parents, be honest, and make sure that your child is the one who wants to be in this business and that it isnít a secret dream of your own. Agents have a knack of picking up on this point quickly. Children should have fun with this business, and when it ceases to be fun they must be allowed to stop.
Professionalism, attitude, and personality are very important for all models. Modeling can be an ugly business. It can also be glamorous, exciting, and very lucrative. Some girls who donít have the mandatory height requirement to be a fashion model could be suitable for catalog work ó also a lucrative aspect of modeling. Super models are made, not born. Top models have paid their dues by being patient, disciplined, and by working hard. Beauty is only half the battle.
The modeling industry is a business just like any other. You must understand how it works and what is expected. Investigate, ask questions, read books, watch fashion videos! Do your homework and practice. Most of all, have fun! Good luck, and donít give up your dream.
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