Our expert’s radio call-in show appearances have elicited a number of common questions from prospective young models. Here’s the version of her advice that you can conveniently tear out and keep.
By Eve Matheson
I have been a guest on several radio shows across the country in recent months, at the end of which listeners have called in with questions for me pertaining to the modeling profession. Certain issues were raised repeatedly, indicating their importance for any young woman aiming for a modeling career. Here, then, are those common questions and my answers to them:
Q I am often told I should be a fashion model. I am 5-ft.-9-in. tall and weigh 125 lbs. Do you think I stand a chance? What else do I need?
AYour height and weight sound excellent, provided your measurements are in the 34-24-34 range. Correct proportion is very important. Other essential factors involved in choosing someone as a modeling prospect include clear skin, fine bone structure, a well-toned body, beautiful teeth, a good attitude, emotional stability, and a great personality.
QWhat is the difference between a scout, an agent, and a manager?
AA scout is someone who travels the country, even the world, looking for new “faces,” as they are called, which means “new models.” Sometimes agents or bookers will do this work, but often they have the names of independent men and women on file who scout for them.
It is said in the industry that an agent finds the job for the model or talent and the manager makes sure that that person lands the assignment. Agents are very busy people whose job it is to find work for the people they represent. They have little time to do anything else. This applies to all types of modeling and acting.
The manager must play many roles, including therapist, problem-solver, friend, mentor, confidant, guardian angel, parent, chauffeur, and acting coach. A manager will also find the right agent for his or her client. Actors have managers. Models don’t have independent managers unless they have crossed over into television, commercials, films, and various other aspects of the business. Top model agencies have model management divisions.
QI have heard there is a lot of drug use in the modeling world and that it is a very dangerous business. Is this true, and how bad is it?
ADrugs are available, as in many aspects of society, and newcomers must be aware of that. Successful models and agents do not tolerate drug use, which they know will impair performance, sometimes result in death, and definitely affect financial gain. If you have a drug dependency, do not go into this business until you have overcome it. When you start to model, stay away from drugs. You don’t have to be part of that scene to be successful in the business.
‘There are great people in this industry. For every bad story you hear, there are fifty good ones!’
– Debra-Lynn Findon, owner of Discover, Inc. Management, Los Angeles, CA
Yes, modeling can be a dangerous business, but young people who play by the rules and take the advice of their agents and school directors should not be affected. These professionals are always very concerned about the people they represent, especially the model agents in foreign cities. But they are not babysitters, and models must be responsible for their own behavior. Former model and longtime agent Lorenzo Pedrini discussed the party-and-drug scene with me during an interview at his agency in Milan. “This agency is concerned with business,” he told me. “I try to stay out of the models’ private lives. If they ask for advice, I give it to them.” Debra-Lynn Findon, owner of Discover Inc. Management in Los Angeles, had this to say: “There are great people in this industry. For every bad story you hear, there are fifty good ones.” I heartily endorse this.
QWhy do I need an agent and how do I go about finding a good one and know the agency is a legitimate one?
AAgents find work for you. They also collect money from clients for you. A model would never have the time or knowledge to do this. Also, agents have worldwide connections, which can mean worldwide assignments. They keep tabs on career moves made on your behalf by foreign agents to make sure they are in your best interests.
Whether on a local, regional (cities such as Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles are considered regional markets) or national level (New York), agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages. Models Mart in New York also has an excellent directory called Agency File 2006, which provides information about agencies throughout the world. However, newcomers should focus on agencies in the United States. If you are concerned about any of the agencies in a specific market, contact the Better Business Bureau or the Industrial Commission of that particular state.
QWhen is a girl too tall or too short to be a model?
AFor the international runway model, the ideal height is 5-ft.-9-in. to 5-ft.-11-in. tall. Boundaries have been broken at both ends of this scale. Gabrielle Reece, who shared the supermodel spotlight for a while, was 6-ft.-3-in. When a world-famous photographer who was working with her for the first time asked her how tall she was, she replied: “I am 5’-15.”” Gaby’s proportions were so perfect and her face so beautiful that she overcame any handicap her height provided. Supermodel Kate Moss, who is now 5-ft.-7-in., was actually 5-ft.-5-1/2-in. when she was discovered. These days, modeling encompasses many categories that do not have specific height requirements.
The following question poses a dilemma for many people, especially parents.
QWhat advice would you give to young people who want to be models?
AFirst and foremost, learn everything you can about the business: how it works; how to avoid the problems and pitfalls; who the career makers are; how long it takes to launch a career; what financial investment is involved; and, especially, what are the legal aspects you should be aware of.
Out of all of the interviews I have done around the world over the last 20 years, two answers to this question have stuck clearly in my mind. Industry pioneer Bill Weinberg, who at the time of our interview was president of the Wilhelmina agency in New York, told me: “Trust no one and be suspicious of everyone.” I thought that comment was cryptic and a bit dramatic at the time, but over the years I have thought about it a lot when involved in certain situations. I think my all-time favorite answer came from the late, great Florida model and talent agent Dott Burns, who said: “Keep a smile on your face — and your clothes on!”
Eve Matheson is the author of The Modeling Handbook, a bestseller in the industry. She has been writing about the modeling and acting world for over twenty years. Her new book Model Scoop And Acting Info provides a wealth of information on how to have a happy, successful, safe career and is now available. Eve is a journalist and the mother of a former international model. She has worked as a model, and in radio and television as a writer and presenter. Eve lives with her husband, Ian, a plastic surgeon, in Tampa, Florida.
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