Modeling Today

Learn a few tips on how to navigate the ever-changing world of modeling

The modeling industry has survived turbulent times over the past twenty years, but no threat or catastrophe has been as daunting or challenging as the calamitous events which are disrupting the world as I write this column. Business everywhere is affected by the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of everything, at all times. Nevertheless, once again the indomitable American spirit of survival is alive and well and has never been more apparent.

There is a great sense of kindness, optimism and compassion among industry professionals which switches into high gear at times like this. These qualities eclipse despair as people reach out to help each other. It is this fight-back-and-win spirit which assures us there will always be a fashion industry and there will always be fabulous young men and women determined to model, design and style those fashions. The show will go on.

A savvy new wave of courageous young models and talent agents will fight to revitalize the business. Longtime agents, who are tried and true survivors, will settle for nothing less than continued success. One such model and talent agent is Diane Dick, who opened the Diane Dick International Modeling and Talent Agency in Amarillo, Texas, over 50 years ago. Diane started modeling when she was five and continued for six more decades. Her love of the business and her ability to help young people realize their dreams are probably the main reasons for her continued success. She has weathered industry storms over these years as a result of her charm, resilience, business acumen and an innate eye for spotting talent and the next top model. Knee replacement surgery curbed her activity briefly but her joie-de-vivre, together with the help of a streamlined motorized scooter, put her back at the helm of her agency in record time.

The Diane Dick International Modeling and Talent Agency represents men, women, children, plus size and older models. As an agent, Diane places models around the world as well as in the United States.

She has great concern for the welfare of her models. She told me, “Today so many models go to the Internet and will be preyed upon by sex traffickers and others who want to exploit them in some manner. It is imperative they have someone they know is legitimate to represent them.” I asked Diane what quality makes an outstanding modeling agent. She answered, “If you have a good relationship with your models, they will have trust in you. I really believe that is what it takes. Models have to believe they can always count on you. We have that trust at our agency and it gives me a great deal of joy.”

Diane is very protective of her child models. She also has a no tolerance policy for bullying. “My little ones are beautiful and they all know what I like and don’t like. I teach a lot of my own classes and they know being ugly to each other will not be tolerated.”

We discussed other aspects of the business. She said the three main reasons for losing potentially great models are: weight, boyfriends and parents. For a model to gain weight once she has been accepted by an agency is a disaster. Serious boyfriends who compete with the career building process can also be a problem. Explaining her views on parents she said, “Problems don’t start in the beginning. At the start I tell them, ‘You are the parents; you are paying for the education, but you need to let the experts do their job. Once your children are with me, you are not the one who is making the career decisions. If you do try to do this, I will back-off.’ I don’t let them become involved because they don’t know the business and therefore are unable to make good decisions.”

I asked Diane what changes she had seen in the industry in recent years. She told me, “There have been huge changes. Social media has had more impact than anything else. After this change, even Vogue magazine decided to use celebrities on their covers instead of top models. They may be talented, but they don’t always have great hair and they are not the correct size. Models should do their jobs and actors theirs. There can be some crossover, but it should never have reached the stage where celebrities took over. If they want a celebrity on the cover, they should have a magazine which is geared towards celebrities, not fashion.”

From a much needed organization called Models Against Trafficking, I have statistics associated with sex trafficking and some wise and safe tips for would-be models. Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry and the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise. In the US, more than 100,000 children are vulnerable to being trafficked and it is estimated that half of these crimes will start online. The average age of recruitment is 14.

Here are the Safe Modeling Tips:

1. Always verify an agent/photographer’s identity by contacting their agency before meeting them.
2. Never meet a new agent or photographer alone.
3. When meeting a new agent or photographer, ask for their ID, take a picture of it and send it to a friend or family.
4. Always tell a friend when and where you are meeting for an appointment or for a shoot.
5. Don’t pose for any photos which make you feel uncomfortable, even if you are told “everyone does it” or “it’s just part of the job.”
6. Always have your own transportation to and from the job. Don’t accept a ride from an agent or photographer you don’t know very well.
7. Always bring your own drinks or snacks to a job and don’t leave them out, to protect from someone drugging them.
8. For more information contact Models Against Trafficking. The above organization asks that you share this information with friends and colleagues.

Finally, on a sad note, the modeling and entertainment world lost a legendary figure on Saturday, February 22, 2020. Top international model, entrepreneur, TV star, author and restaurateur, Barbara “B” Smith died from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. (B dropped all but the first letter of her first name and was known as B. Smith.). She had been diagnosed with the disease in 2013, but had suffered symptoms for several years before that time. She was a true pioneer for all models and especially for the African American model. In 1976, she became the second black model to be on the cover of Mademoiselle Magazine. She also drew attention to the Alzheimer’s illness and its devastating effect on patients, family and friends. Throughout her career, she wrote three cookbooks and following her diagnosis, she coauthored “Before I Forget,” with her husband Dan Gasby. This book is a personal story which followed their journey as the disease progressed.

B is proof that if you hold onto your dreams, they can come true. What a role model! What an awesome legacy!

To read the feature in Pageantry Digital, please Click Here