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There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tips for Getting to Your Modeling Castings On Time, Every Time

It goes without saying that arriving on time to castings is one of the biggest ways to make a good first impression when it comes to establishing a good reputation in the modeling world.

Those new to modeling--especially you freelance models out there--have a lot of new territory to encounter and I hope this post gives you less to stress about.

When you're not stressed, you're able to focus more on performing well during the casting and hopefully setting yourself up to get hired for that modeling job!

Some of these tips are common sense but like I always say, "Common sense just isn't common enough." Believe me, if I didn't feel these things needed to be mentioned, I wouldn't even bother but if I can help even one person have an "AHA!" moment in realizing mistakes they may have made in the past (and can now correct moving forward), then I will have considered this post a success.

Lets get to it!

TIP #1: DESIGNATE A CONTACT PERSON

Soon as you're confirmed for a casting and have the date/time/location, make sure to identify who your "contact person" will be at the casting (if this info hasn't been provided to you already).

You'll want to know the name of the person and a number they can be reached at during business hours (8a-5p). BTW: It is extremely unprofessional to call your contact person in the evening, especially if it is a personal cell phone that they use to conduct business. The only exception is in the case of an emergency or if you cannot make it to the casting last minute.

If you haven't been told who your contact person is, just ask. Even if you're told that you don't need to worry about having a contact person, the fact that you asked reflects very well on you and is a great sign of your professionalism.

TIP #2: DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO CONFIRM/ASK QUESTIONS

Nothing is more nerve-wracking than sending an email inquiry or leaving a voicemail the day/night before a casting and not hearing back from someone in time.

Avoid putting yourself in this situation by confirming all the details and asking any questions you may have several days (2-3 days) before the date of your casting. This gives the client/casting director the time necessary to get back to you soon as they are available. Remember, they have busy schedules as well and may not be able to get back to you right away.

The sooner you get things clarified, the better prepared you'll be by the time the casting date comes around.

TIP #3: KNOW MORE THAN THE ADDRESS OF WHERE THE CASTING IS

We have too much technology these days to have the excuse of being late because models didn't know where to go.

Whether you're taking public transit or driving, look up the directions for how to get to your casting soon as you have the address available. Doing this in advance instead of waiting the day of will decrease the odds of any unexpected surprises. You literally have to be prepared for anything so do yourself a favor and plan ahead.

Don't just know how to get to the casting--use Google Maps to look up what the actual location looks like. Being able to recognize the building when you get there shaves minutes off your arrival time.

Go a step further and look at the parking situation if you plan on driving. Are there meters? Parking garages nearby? Free parking in a residential area? Google Maps shows the surrounding areas so take note of that and factor it into how much time you'll need to get there on time.

Anyone who's had to find parking in an area that is metered or offers free sidewalk parking knows it can take forever to find an open spot nearby and could take even longer if you have to park blocks away and walk.

TIP #4: ARRIVE EARLY & PREP YOUR GAME FACE

I purposely make it a habit to arrive to castings at least 30 minutes before my casting call time. I have no problem getting to places really early because it not only guarantees I won't be late and have plenty of time for parking, it gives me a moment to prepare my game face and go over what to expect at the casting.

Additionally, it allows me to double check that I have all the stuff I need (i.e. headshot/comp card) and to check my hair and makeup one last time before heading in.

Trust me, it's much better to find yourself with time to kill instead of rushing into the casting frantic because you came close to being late or ended up being late.

If you have the habit of being late to everything in general, chances are you won't be a favorite at castings. Implementing these tips and learning to embrace them as a part of your modeling career will produce instant results not just in building a good rep for yourself in the industry but giving you peace of mind as well that you'll have less to worry about before each casting and give you the confidence that you'll be stepping in as the best version of yourself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Other Forms of Modeling Compensation (Other Than Money)

There is a lot to be said for how one measures "success" or defines "professional" when it comes to an industry like modeling. Most people automatically think about money.

Of course it makes sense that a professional model is one who gets paid for his/her services. Supermodels make tons of money so it's easy to see why the every day person would consider the almighty dollar as a major factor.

However, while earning income for modeling is a big perk, it isn't the only form of compensation female and male models receive for their efforts.

Sometimes models have to determine whether a gig is worth taking or not based on the form of compensation. Project type, budget, client and job duties all factor into what type of compensation will be provided to a model and as with much in the industry, the details almost always vary from project to project.

Below are a few of the most common forms of modeling compensation aside from money that models will want to be aware of when submitting to and getting booked for assignments:

TEARSHEETS

Tearsheets are the best form of compensation (some believe it's even better than money) for models because it serves as direct "proof" of publication. I've talked about tearsheest in the past but the important takeaway when it comes to this type of payment is that models should definitely seek as many opportunities to earn tearsheets as possible.

Whether it's a hard copy tearsheet from a magazine/catalog or other printed form or a digital tearsheet printed off the Internet (or bookmarked), these are the types of images that are gold for portfolios.

What better way to show people what you've accomplished than a publication that has you in it?

FREE MERCHANDISE/PRODUCT

Clients with smaller budgets or just starting out with their business don't always have the deep pockets that their larger competitors do. Giving models free merchandise (clothes, accessories, product, etc.) counts as a form of modeling compensation, although getting freebies as payment is sometimes a hot button topic for those in the industry.

Some models don't see getting free merchandise as acceptable and won't accept or submit to jobs that list this as compensation. Other models love getting free stuff and see it as a perk so they don't have any problem with it.

Free merchandise is a commonly used form of compensation when it comes to fashion shows. If you really love the designer's clothes, getting a free outfit (or maybe a gift certificate to their store/site) may sound like a great deal. If you'd rather get paid, this may be a gig to pass on.

For photoshoots where the client is giving free merchandise in lieu of monetary compensation, it's a good idea to find out beforehand if you'll also be able to get copies of the photos. If the resulting images will be published that means tearsheets so in that instance, getting tearsheets and free merchandise is a pretty sweet combo meal. But if you're not going to receive images, walking away with free clothes might not sound very appealing.

COPIES OF PHOTOS

Tearsheets and regular modeling photos are not the same. Tearsheets describe "published" work, while photos from a shoot are just that--photos. Getting copies from a professional shoot is good for adding new images to a model's portfolio and is considered a form of compensation although it is at the bottom of the ladder in terms of priority, at least for models with a lot of experience.

Newer models learning the ropes, however, can greatly benefit from getting copies from shoots they've done.

COMBINATION

Some clients may combine any or all of the above to sweeten the deal for models if they don't have a large budget to work with. A lower pay rate combined with free merchandise/product is a popular option, as well as a lower pay rate combined with copies of the resulting images.

Other clients might give models the option of choosing between monetary compensation and free merchandise or copies of images from the shoot (not talking about tearsheets here). Those aren't the best situations to be in and while it doesn't happen frequently, it happens enough that I felt it was worth mentioning.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation where you can only choose one or the other, it will be up to you to decide if you'd rather take the money or if the copies of the photos or free merchandise/product would benefit you more. In this case, it's important to look at the client you'd be working with, what's required of you as the model and where you are at in your career.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Agency Recruitment Warnings: What All Models Should Know

I'm often a broken record. I repeat a lot of the same things over and over and over.

That's usually because I find that it drills important info into people's heads and helps them remember things more easily.

Referring to modeling agency websites is one of the most common things I repeat constantly and with good reason--many questions and concerns can be answered by visiting an agency's website. Period.

These days agencies take great time and care to post content on their websites to help models with everything from how to submit themselves for representation, reference photos for snapshots and--in recent years--vital information about warnings and scams to be on the lookout for.

Modeling recruitment scams are prominent and with technology making it easier for people to stay anonymous and/or pretend to be someone they're not, agencies are very aware that there are individuals posing as model scouts and preying on unsuspecting newbies.

Because a lot of people turn to my blog for advice, I decided to recap some of that essential info here. Much of this is posted on agency sites all over but I figured it couldn't hurt to have this content here as a quick reference to avoid scams and preventing a bad situation.

LEGITIMATE MODELING AGENCIES WILL NEVER...

Ask for Models to Submit Photos of Themselves in Lingerie or Nude.

I don't care if you want to model for Victoria's Secret--they don't want to see you naked or modeling their bras and thongs. Modeling agencies do request snapshots but they want you clothed. Dark skinny jeans, heels and a fitted tank top for women and jeans and a fitted shirt for men are the norm.

Agencies that want to see the shape of a model's body better will request snapshots wearing swimwear (bikinis for women and swim shorts with no shirt for men, most times).

If you ever get a request from an "agency" for nude images or wearing lingerie, they're a fake agency. Don't respond and delete the email (better yet, report them to the proper online resource/authority/consumer website to make others aware of these creepers).

Send an Email From an Address That is Not Affiliated with the Agency.

Did you receive an email from someone claiming to be from a big agency? You better check that email address. If the extension doesn't contain the name of the agency after the "@" symbol, it's 99.9% a scam or other shady type of operation.

For example, if you get an email from a person that says they're a model scout or recruiter from Next Models in New York, their email address better have "@nextmodels.com".

Legit:  samh@nextmodels.com, sam.h@nextmodels.com

Not Legit:  samh@yahoo.com, samhnextmodels@yahoo.com, nextmodels@yahoo.com, nextmodelsrecruiter@yahoo.com

(The legit reference is not a real email address btw so please don't send an email to it, lol).

Agencies large and small have their own email addresses and don't need to use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or any other kind of "every day" email account.

What should you do if you get such an email? Don't reply. Instead, save the message and forward it to the agency directly. They want people to alert them of these incidents so in your email explain that you were contacted by this person and make sure you send them the body of the email message you received.

This will allow the agency to take whatever action is needed on their end to hopefully put a stop to the activity. Does that mean they'll be so thankful that they'll sign you? Probably not, haha, but they will greatly appreciate your efforts to get rid of one less scumbag.

Conduct Interviews via Skype

Social media, especially Instagram, has changed the ways agencies scout, contact and recruit models but according to several fashion agency websites I've reviewed, they all say that they do NOT conduct interviews for new models through Skype and that those who are offered this opportunity should be wary.

Even though Skype is great for connecting people across distances and is used for business communications as well as for fun, the more established and reputable agencies will not use it for interviewing new models. Why? Because even though Skype allows them to "see" you, they NEED to see you in front of them with their own eyes.

You can't properly evaluate a model's potential via webcam. The heavy hitter agencies know this and they also know that if a model really wants the opportunity, they'll make the effort to come to the agency office and have the interview in person.

If you're not sure whether an interview via Skype with an agency is legit, do your research by calling/emailing the agency directly and asking if they do Skype interviews. Remember, the scammers don't work at the agency so calling or emailing directly will help you verify whether or not that individual actually does work there and if the offer is genuine.

What happens if the person does work there? Then there's no harm and it isn't a bad reflection on you. If anything, it shows the agency that you're not a pushover who will fall for anything.

Ask for Money Upfront to Attend a Casting or Interview.

Legitimate agencies will never ask you to send them money to attend a casting or interview before they will meet with you. If anyone contacts you and asks you to send them money via wire transfer, through PayPal or another online payment method, that's a huge sign that it's a scam.

Money only comes into the equation after you've met with the agency in person, have a contract offer on the table, etc. Not in the early stages when they've never even met you or reviewed your photos and info.

Models don't pay to attend castings or interviews and legitimate agencies won't allow them to, either.
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When in doubt about someone contacting you claiming to be from a particular agency, visit that agency's site to see if you can locate that person's name/contact info to verify his/her identity.

Can't find it? Then call the agency directly and ask to verify whether that person actually does work there. Make sure you know the person's name before you call. If the agency says no one by that name works there, then you'll know you dodged a major bullet.

Not all agencies are identical and not all of them operate the same way but when it comes to the safety of the models that submit to them, as well as their reputations, taking the above information to heart could save you a lot of stress, grief and an unfortunate experience/encounter.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Models, Learn How to "Sell Yourself"

I know the phrase, “Sell Yourself,” sounds suspect but when I was 15-years-old, this is what I was taught when I first got into the industry as a model/actor.

Over the years, I’ve come to know how important this concept is and have made it a point to implement it when I mentor, coach and consult models.

The idea of “selling yourself” is quite simple: in order to convince agencies, clients, casting directors, etc. to work with you is to know how to pitch yourself to them. Essentially, learning how to talk about yourself in a confident and conversational way is one of the greatest secrets to booking gigs and building/maintaining a solid networking environment.

Aside from the many castings I’ve been to over the years, I’ve also had the opportunity to be a part of the casting process and experience things from the other side. It never ceases to amaze me how many models have a hard time talking about themselves. If you’re new and/or inexperienced, that’s one thing but I’ve seen models with experience and solid portfolios/resumes stumble or struggle with introducing themselves in a few sentences.

Hopefully, the following tips can help anyone struggling with this concept become more comfortable with talking about themselves so that this part of the casting process will become one less thing for them to worry about:

ASSUME YOU’LL BE ASKED TO TALK ABOUT YOURSELF

You are the person being interview, right? So it only makes sense that the majority of the time, a client/agent/casting director is going to ask you to tell them about yourself in your own words. Sure, they can get this info from your resume/portfolio but oftentimes, it is much better to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth—plus, it gives them the chance to see how you speak and present yourself in person.

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen models get the “deer in headlights” look when asked to talk about themselves. The best way to avoid this initial panic is to go in assuming that you’re going to have to talk about yourself. This means you’ll be properly prepared and even if you don’t get asked, at least you’ll know that you would have been ready.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and prepare for the unexpected, including talking about yourself.

DEVELOP YOUR “PITCH”

In addition to expecting to be asked to talk about yourself at a casting/interview, it also helps if you actually have an idea of what you’re going to say. Prepare 2-3 very brief talking points beforehand and practice saying it out loud. This doesn’t mean you should have a completely rehearsed answer, however. The last thing you want to do is sound robotic.

Practice at home by having a friend or family member ask you, “Tell us about yourself” and jump straight into what you want to say. Be open to their feedback and tweak your answer as needed. Over time and with practice, you’ll be able to answer that question without giving it a second thought.

KEEP IT BRIEF
It’s easy to get caught up rambling and trying to include every single fact about yourself. Remember, most castings and interviews don’t have that much time to dedicate to each model so knowing how to keep your answer brief and to the point is essential. 2-3 sentences about yourself should be more than enough to fill people in on who you are.

After you’re done speaking, there will be other questions asked so make sure you aren’t taking too long with your answer in order to allow for ample time for other questions/topics to be brought up.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

“Tell us a bit about yourself” isn’t a trick question. Keep it simple. Talking about how long you’ve been modeling, what you do for work, favorite hobbies and/or where you go to school are all ideal subjects to cover in an answer. If you’re a student, throwing in what you’re studying is also a great topic to touch on.

The key is to tell them just enough so that they’ll be able to ask you any follow up questions related to anything you’ve mentioned. This is how you create “momentum” in a casting/interview situation. You want people to know who you are, be interested in you and make yourself memorable. The more engaging you are, the more your personality will shine and that’s what will sell you as the person a client should hire or the model an agency should sign.

BE HUMBLE

One of the best ways to make a good first impression is to know how to talk about yourself that comes across as natural, conversational and informative but not arrogant. Just because you’re asked to say a few words about who you are doesn’t mean that it’s time to drone on about every single aspect of your life or—even worse—use that time to brag about everything that’s so wonderful about you.
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The sooner you learn how to successfully answer the question: “Tell us a bit about yourself,” the better you’ll perform at any casting, open call or other related modeling opportunity where you’re being interviewed.

It isn’t rocket science, it’s simply a matter of being confident and comfortable enough in your own skin to showcase to others who you are and why you’re the right choice.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Website Launch: DaniaDee.com is Live!

I blogged about my next business venture earlier this year and after a lot of tweaking and planning, I'm happy to announce the official launch of DaniaDee.com!

WHAT IS DANIADEE.COM?

Being able to help others pursue their goals for the modeling industry over the years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. People have shared their stories, dreams and aspirations with me and to be able to get them closer to making those dreams a reality inspired me to take things up a notch.

I've been mentoring/coaching/consulting for a while now but mainly via email and word-of-mouth. However, I feel the time is right to take my services to the next level by officially marketing myself as a mentor/coach/consultant!

DaniaDee.com is specifically for the purpose of marking those services to those with a serious interest in having one-on-one assistance with their entertainment careers.

IS IT JUST FOR MODELS?

No, DaniaDee.com is designed to offer one-on-one services for models, actors, pageant contestants and those "behind the scenes" (i.e. photographers, clients/casting directors looking for talent, etc.).

IS IT FREE?

No. Unlike my blog, the services offered through DaniaDee.com are paid services. For rate inquiries, you'll have to visit the site and fill out the form to get more details.

However, that does not mean people can't still ask me questions or get help via my blogs (Modeling 101 - A Model's Diary and Modeling 101 - Answering Reader Questions with Dania Denise) because you still can--that will always be free. Sending me emails is also going to continue to be free so all of that will continue as it always has.

DO YOU TRAVEL?

Yes! That is the best thing about this new business venture--I want to make myself available to work in-person with those who have a vested interest in using my services to help them reach their career goals (travel & accommodations must be covered for work out of city limits and out-of-state).

However, I do have an office space for in-person sessions located in Roseville, California (just outside of Sacramento) so anyone in that area is more than welcome to come to the office for services if coming to your home or other designated location is not possible.
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I'm excited to launch this new business and can't wait to get started! I'll be sure to keep you posted on how things are going so stay tuned!