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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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Monday, July 30, 2018

Modeling in the Age of Instagram

The modeling world has become notorious for thriving despite all the changes going on as the years go by.

In the past, modeling agencies were a type of secret society that not just anybody could penetrate, let alone try to locate.

Then came the Internet and along with it total access via websites from the very agencies model hopefuls had been searching for--equipped with submission information and open call guidelines that opened up the modeling industry to the masses...or at least those gutsy enough to send in their snapshots or walk through the agency's doors.

Now we're in the social media era where the modeling industry has once again needed to update their way of doing business. While being scouted on IG is all the rage, this latest version of the modeling beast can actually end up confusing newbies even more when it comes to figuring out where to begin and what to do/not do.

So what does it mean to be a model in the age of IG?

MORE VISIBILITY

It is still important to have other online tools in place to market yourself as a model (i.e. some kind of website or fan page, being a member of modeling groups on Facebook, Model Mayhem, etc.) but IG has made it a lot easier for new models to share their images and experiences with the world, including potential modeling scouts. Not to mention building up a long list of followers.

Everyone is familiar with IG handles and that makes networking with photographers, stylists and other industry pros a breeze. Because IG is solely based on the visual, it provides a quick reference for anyone curious about who you are as a model, the type of work you do and seeing your journey unfold.

Needless to say, it's one of the best and fastest ways to display an online modeling portfolio.

EVERYONE'S DOING IT...

Okay, maybe not everyone but there's a whole lotta folks on it. Anyone who wants to get into the modeling game professionally, knows having an IG profile set up is a surefire way to generate interest. That includes modeling agencies.

The agencies in particular have really taken their use of IG to the next level with contests, BTS images to let the public into their world and spotlight their favorite models. They've even created hashtags for aspiring models to use that literally does the legwork for them as far as finding new faces.

The fact that the agencies, clients and other industry pros are on IG means you've decreased that networking gap by a huge amount just by having a profile on there and following them.

...INCLUDING SCAMMERS, CON ARTISTS & SHADY PEOPLE

Hey, you can't blame the bad apples for also jumping on the same bandwagon as the legitimate folks in an attempt to get over on more people. Just as us "good and upstanding individuals" are enjoying the opportunities IG presents, so are those that only want to make a quick buck.

It goes without saying that it is still extremely important to be cautious when you get contacted randomly by someone through DM claiming to be this, that or the other. If you've gotten a message from somebody claiming to be a model scout or agent, this inquiry needs to be treated the same way you would with anything that might sound too good to be true: you research the crap out of them and ask plenty of questions.

See if they have a website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile...do a basic online search and see if anything comes up. Can't find anything other than what's on their Instagram? Then be very careful. This is when you need to ask questions about their business/operation and if they have relevant links or information they can EMAIL you.

To be honest, I hate doing business via DM on Instagram because for one, I always end up accidentally hitting the "send" button before I'm ready to send the message and it's not as convenient to send files, docs, etc. as it is with regular email. Asking them to send you more information through email is a good test to see if they're serious or just lazily going about trying to target people for whatever bad intentions they have.

I can't speak on every single possible situation you might come across because that would be way too much to go into but when it comes to getting scouted or told an agent loves your look and wants to sign you, I can say that you should think twice before jumping on the so-called "offer."

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME

Have you received a DM out of the blue from someone claiming to be a modeling scout or agent? Don't do a happy dance just yet. There's a couple things you need to do first:

What Do They Want?

Did they come across your profile and tell you they love your look so much that they want to offer you a very high paying gig with a prestigious client/brand/company? Guess what: they're full of crap. Just as with traditional means of trying to get into modeling, no reputable company or modeling agency is ever going to hire a model (male or female) without any kind of interview or casting call.

Are they offering to sign you to their agency based on your IG profile alone? Again: crap, crap, crap. With the super small exception of online agencies that don't technically have a physical office and instead work with models by having them listed on their database and matching projects as they come up--legitimate agencies don't just make it rain contract offers on people they've never met in person, especially since filters and other photo tricks make it so that you have no clue what that person is going to look like when they walk through the door.

Are they interested in working with you but want you to pay fees for whatever services they're offering? Yep, you guessed it, more crapola in a box.

Do they want you to send them risque/nude/inappropriate photos via DM or to a certain email address? Do I even need to write out my response to this situation???

These common situations typically happen through email but now they've transitioned to Instagram as well (Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are also obvious methods of scammers trying to poach victims so that goes without saying).

Be smart about who is contacting you and try to find that paper trail to see if they are who they say they are. At the end of the day you are not obligated to give anyone your information, money or time. That's what the "block" feature is for--you underage guys and gals, this is definitely directed at you. Do not communicate with someone about modeling jobs without your parents' guidance.

DEAL WITH THE SOURCE

Want to get on an agency's radar on IG? Then follow their profile. Use the hashtags they use and when making contact, DM them directly and make sure the profile is verified. If you're not sure of the profile's authenticity, don't follow.

There are a lot of "fan" IG accounts that may look like the real deal but are not and you have no idea who is in charge of them.

When in doubt, go to the modeling agency's website and see what their social media handles are. That is the best way to guarantee you're following the right profiles.

ON YOUR IG...

Keep your photos relevant to the types of modeling you want to pursue if you plan to use IG for jump starting a modeling career. Remember to have quality snapshots of yourself with little to no makeup in addition to the more dolled up images. You can't--and shouldn't--always be filtered or have cat ears in all your photos.

If you're more interested in freelancing and aren't that concerned about grabbing the attention of a modeling agency, then make sure the modeling images you post are with quality photographers and not all a bunch of selfies taken in front of your bathroom mirror. Make sure you're adding new posts whenever you do a shoot so potential clients can see your hustle and that you're serious about modeling.

Mix up your profile with some fun videos and boomerangs. When doing videos, have posts where you're talking to the camera. This is as good as it gets for first impressions. These days, models who are well spoken and can showcase their personality in front of the camera in terms of video and not just still images, are a surefire way to engage not only a fan base of followers but people who may want to hire you for their next project.

Network! Don't just follow, send DMs to briefly introduce yourself and your goals for modeling. They may not get the message since yours will likely be one of millions but don't let that discourage you. Like and comment on their posts...showing this type of engagement could possibly get you on their radar. If they like your comment or respond back to it, even better.

Don't be content with just sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be noticed. Social media is about being social so hop to it!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Red Flags ALL Models Should Know About

Red flags are everywhere and they exist for a reason.

The modeling industry is far from perfect and despite the strides in technology and social media that make it easier than ever these days to find out how to submit to agencies and pursue a modeling career, there are still pitfalls that unsuspecting newbies tend to find themselves falling into.

Even if I've done a post similar to this one, I think it warrants bringing up again (or at least think of this as an updated post of sorts) to continue educating and informing those of you that aren't sure whether to move forward with a particular opportunity, project or individual/company.

Nudity Should Never Be Involved

Never. Ever. EVER!

Are there very hyper-sexualized images of models in magazines and advertisements? You bet. Sex sells. It's not a secret. However, just because certain fields within the modeling industry rely on selling sex and sexy models, when it comes to newbies submitting to agencies, they don't want to see your goodies.

Many agency websites make it a point to mention that nude photos are not wanted or required. Even lingerie snapshots for female models is discouraged. Two-piece bikinis are the least amount of wardrobe you should ever wear when sending in digital snapshots for agency submission.

The same goes for the male models: shirtless is common for men wanting to get into fashion/runway/editorial modeling but nude or sexually suggestive images are not. Boxer briefs or even Speedo type bottoms are the bare minimum (no pun intended).

This rule of thumb should also be kept in mind when sending images to potential clients for modeling assignments (for freelance models). This is mainly in regards to run-of-the-mill gigs where lingerie, underwear or other sexually suggested themes aren't part of the project.

If you're submitting freelance for a catalog job modeling commercial/print type clothing or a product, the casting director/client shouldn't be asking you for snapshots in your bra and panties.

This is where common sense definitely comes into play. And, hello, it's the Internet, folks! You can't just be sending photos of yourself in various stages of undress to anyone because goodness knows where it's going to end up.

Legitimate Email Addresses Are Company Email Addresses

Do you realize that ANYONE can create a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account? It goes without saying to err on the side of caution if you are contacted directly by someone claiming to work with a modeling agency and you notice their email account is from an address that doesn't end with the name of the agency.

The proper way to deal with this situation is to contact the agency directly by phone and provide them with the name and email address of the person who contacted you. Ask them if they can verify that this individual does, in fact, work for them or not. If they can't, block that person ASAP. Don't respond back, don't tell them you've contacted the agency. Just block their address and avoid all contact.

Although in the past I've mentioned not contacting agencies on the phone, this is one of those situations that is an exception to the rule. Any agency will want to know if someone is trying to commit fraud using their company name and chances are they'll be grateful that you reported it.

Even if the person does end up being verified by the agency, it is better to check first and make sure before jumping into a conversation with that person.

No Legitimate Client Books Models They've Never Met

You get an email out of the blue that so-and-so found your images/profile on [insert social media site here] and they think you'd be perfect for their upcoming modeling assignment. All they need is your mailing info, personal contact info, maybe even financial info to move forward and secure a location, shoot dates, etc., blah, blah, blah.

They even mention that the shoot is for a large and well-known client/brand/company/publication who you'd benefit greatly from working with. You're thinking to yourself, "OMG, I can't believe this is happening!"

Well, you shouldn't believe it. Because it's not real.

I like to think of this fake opportunity as the modeling version of getting an email from an African or Arabic prince who is dying and wants to give you his fortune.

I could devote paragraphs breaking down why no one should ever think this kind of offer is legit but I'm hoping you can tell by my sarcastic tone why any model--especially you noobs--should hit "block" and delete any correspondence even remotely similar to this.

No reputable and famous or well-known client/brand/company/publication will EVER contact you directly or have someone do it on their behalf based on some photos of you they came across online.

While you may be sad upon learning that it's a sham, just know it's not your fault and there really isn't anything you can do to prevent sick and depraved individuals from trying to take advantage of unsuspecting model hopefuls, except to block them and even notify/forward the email offer to the actual client/brand/company/publication so it is on record and they are aware of the situation.

No Legitimate Client Sends Payment Upfront to Models, Either

The fake opportunities described above usually come with an eye-popping ridiculous payment amount for hiring you as a model for their project. It can range from a few thousand dollars for a 1-day shoot to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sorry, but who in their right mind would send that much money to someone they literally never met? And we all know people lie online, especially when it comes to their pictures, so why on earth would a legitimate company/brand/client/publication think that it's a smart move to send a big payday to a model they discovered online but otherwise know nothing about?

Agency Interviews Don't Happen Outside the Office

Aside from a formal model search or casting call held somewhere (and advertised as such), the typical agency interview 99.9% of the time will take place at the actual office of the agency. Not a Starbucks, not a rented out space in some random part of town, not a hotel and definitely not someone's private residence.

Again, if the individual that contacted you for the interview is legitimate and employed by the agency, they will have you come to the agency's office during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Not after the agency has closed for the day. There are no after hours for interviews.

Think about it: if open calls for agencies always happen during that small window of time on certain days of the week between 9-5, why would they consider inviting models to an interview that happens after the office has been closed?

It just doesn't make sense and neither does such an opportunity. Pass on it. In fact, run away. Far, far away.

The Bottom Line

The sad news is that there are probably many more major red flags I could list that are out there but these are at least the most pressing ones that I still tend to see or hear about people falling prey to that I felt were the most glaring issues to highlight for the purposes of this post.

Should I come across any others I will either add them to this post or create a new and updated one so that it pops up as newer content. Either way, you can believe I will always do my best to keep an eye on the growing red flags trend when it comes to modeling and hope that all those who read this take heed and always err on the side of caution.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Male Model Portfolio

The modeling world is filled with female models. That's no secret.

Because a majority of information out there is mainly geared towards women, it can make it difficult for male models to track down relevant info as it relates to them.

With my blog I've always tried to include posts specific to male models and hope that those of you out there interested in the modeling industry have been able to benefit from what I've posted so far.

Here's another post I felt was long overdue (as is a new blog post on here overall, haha) that should help you fellas keep your modeling career and goals on track.

When it comes to modeling portfolios in general, you want to showcase a diverse range of looks and themes that you realistically can pull off and that is appropriate for your age/target demographic you'd be representing.

Freelance models enjoy more flexibility with their portfolios since they essentially can branch out into other categories they normally wouldn't be submitted to through a modeling agency due to the sometimes strict physical and age requirements.

I'm going to keep the info broad to make life simple. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and other situations/circumstances so while there aren't exactly hard and fast rules when it comes to what you should have in your portfolio, if you're freelance it is up to your preference.

Agency repped male models will already have a portfolio established through their agency but may also have their own separate portfolios they use for freelance purposes. That's common. So apply the information below according to your preference and goals for your modeling career:

HEADSHOT

It goes without saying that a male model is only as strong as his headshot. It is ideal to have more than one strong headshot, although that doesn't mean you need a dozen. 2-3 is a good range. As you progress in your modeling career you will update these from time to time anyway. You always want to make sure you look like your headshots so as your appearance changes over time, so should your headshot.

Casual Headshot - Even if you're a fashion/runway model, having a casual headshot is a must for a male model's portfolio.

Examples of Causal Headshots






Headshot in Business Attire - Any headshot with a man in a business outfit is always eye catching and a quick way for potential clients to see that you can pull off such a look.

Examples of Headshots in Business Attire




Beauty Headshot - This is for male fashion/editorial/runway models (yes, even the fellas get to do beauty shots from time to time!). If you're a young man interested in this kind of work, having a great headshot that shows you can pull this look off would be a wonderful addition to a portfolio.

Examples of Beauty Headshots




HALF BODY/FULL BODY SHOTS

Clients have to know what you look like from head to toe. This goes without saying but the looks for these types of shots should range from casual to formal and sporty attire. Remember to choose wardrobe that is appropriate for your age. You should look like the demographic clients would hire to market to their consumer base.

Examples of Half Body & Full Body Shots












COUPLES SHOTS

Being able to successfully pose with a female model is always an asset to a male model's portfolio. However, the shots you do don't have to only be the kind found on the covers of romance novels. From editorial shots to lifestyle themes, you want to showcase the various "characters" you can play when it comes to couple shoots.

Examples of Couple Shots





FAMILY MAN (IF APPLICABLE)

For those of you that can pass for somebody's father, it isn't mandatory to have a "family man" shot or two in a portfolio but it doesn't hurt, either. Older male models who will commonly get booked for this type of role can certainly benefit from having these kinds of shots to show clients.

Examples of Family Man Shots





LIFESTYLE

A good male model knows how to transition from the super posed, fashion world to the every day consumer doing daily activities world. Being able to pull off candid photos doing things like having coffee, being on a mobile device or laptop, etc. all make for a skilled model in any setting or theme.

Examples of Lifestyle Shots







Friday, January 19, 2018

Tips for Finding a Good Casting Agency to Work With

If you had the chance to read my previous blog post, "The Difference Between Casting Agencies & Talent/Modeling Agencies," you might be thinking about considering the services of a casting agency to help with your modeling career.

As with searching for a traditional modeling agency, there are certain things to keep in mind when trying to figure out which companies would be worth your time and which ones you should probably skip out on.

Keep in mind that not all casting agencies are created equal and only through research and careful consideration can you find the one tailored for your needs.

START LOCAL THEN BRANCH OUT

The good thing about living in or near a medium and large size modeling market is the fact that you'll likely have easy access to a casting agency or two (or three!). Starting local is not only practical, it's convenient and cost-effective because the majority of the castings and projects you could book through the casting agency will be in your neck of the woods.

The larger casting agencies that focus on projects nationwide are all well and good but focusing on submitting yourself to local projects is a great way to get your foot in the door, as well as network with clients, photographers and other industry professionals.

When that happens, your chances for booking future work through word-of-mouth and a previous working relationship will increase--all bonuses for you.

Don't live in a market that has a good casting agency or no casting agency at all? Then you can consider the larger online versions that post for projects within your state, as well as across the country.

REVIEW MEMBERSHIP PLAN OPTIONS

The best casting agencies give you options and don't force you to pay the same fee as everyone else. Being able to choose a membership plan that fits your needs is a safe and smart way to check out what a casting agency has to offer and test drive the quality of its services before jumping in and paying money you may be ready or comfortable spending yet.

Even better is if the casting agency has a free membership plan. Although the free profiles are obviously going to be limited, it's a nice way to test the waters and see how you like using the website without any financial commitment.

Quality casting agencies understand that affordability is important to their customers and the range of plans they offer should reflect that.

Also note if the fees must be paid monthly, annually, etc. and what methods of payment they accept.

WHAT ELSE DO THEY DO?

One of the many benefits of being a member of a casting agency is access to other services outside of connecting you with projects looking for models/talent. A majority offer resources related to workshops for everything from acting and public speaking to recommendations/referrals for photographers.

In most cases, these resources have been vetted by the casting agency or come recommended because they have worked with or recognize the quality and integrity of the individual/company they are affiliated with. Sometimes being a member of a casting agency will open you up to special offers, discounts on certain services or even the inside scoop on upcoming workshops, specials or other happenings before anyone else.

Additionally, most casting agencies offer to take free digital snapshots of you to keep for their files and for you to use for your profile registered with the casting agency. This allows them to have the most up-to-date images of you and while it isn't a full on photoshoot, it's a wonderful option for newbies who don't have digital snapshots of their own to upload to their profile.

Having a casting agency that serves as a type of "one stop shop" is convenient and allows you to find the assistance you're looking for depending on what you need help with in regards to your modeling and/or acting career.

QUALITY OF PROJECTS

It won't take long to see whether the projects being listed on a casting agency's site are good or not. Sometimes you'll get some funky ones (no site is perfect) but in general the more reputable casting agencies won't allow just anyone to post a project on their site.

If you've ever searched through gigs on places like Craigslist, you should be able to tell the difference between a sketchy post and one that is a real opportunity. Legitimate casting agencies know how important screening posts are and they often require specific information before approving a project to be posted and sent out to its members.

Unlike a Craigslist post (or other online anonymous casting sites and forums), most casting agency projects will require specific information: client/company name, project name, the type of project (i.e. photo shoot, fashion show, live event, etc.), usage, casting/shoot dates, submission guidelines and an explanation of what they are looking for.

In general, always be wary of posts that seem too good to be true, such as modeling assignments that want you to travel out of the country and are paying hundreds to thousands of dollars. Play it safe and always use common sense when submitting to projects you get matched up for.

AUDITION/CASTING PROCESS

Local casting agencies not only connect clients with their database of models/talent, they provide audition/casting space at their location (at least a majority of them do). While direct bookings do happen--where the client doesn't require an in-person audition--one of the perks for both clients and models/talent is the ability to have castings at the office itself.

Having a public, safe and professional environment to meet with clients is very beneficial and a common approach to being considered for a project when a client has expressed interest after reviewing your submission.

It's not a mandatory requirement for clients posting projects through a casting agency to have their audition/castings at the agency's location, however, so don't be worried if you submit and are asked to go someplace that isn't the casting agency office (of course it is important to make sure the space holding the audition isn't a private home or other suspicious location...that's what Google Maps is for, people!).

NO HARD SALES PUSH

Casting agencies that are good at what they do will not hound you via email or phone to entice you to sign up/pay for additional services you didn't ask for or have not expressed an interest in. Nor will they contact you with casting opportunities you "just have to be a part of."

You're already a member and paying the fees for services so their job is done in that regard. Even if you're signed up under a free profile, there is no reason why anyone from the casting agency should be contacting you to convince you to upgrade to a paid membership.

The only exception to this when it comes to free profiles is receiving email alerts listing the benefits of having a paid membership. That's normal but if they're calling you with a hard sales push to get you to cough up money for services and provide your credit card number, that's not okay.

CUSTOMER SERVICE OPTIONS

Whether you opt for a local casting agency or a larger one that focuses on nationwide castings, you want to ensure that you will be able to get in touch with someone should an issue arise. Having a phone number is important. Some casting agencies rely on the typical 800 or 855 number, while more local operations may stick with a local number only.

Casting sites that only provide a contact form or email address but no phone number always make me nervous, especially if it's not a local business with a brick and mortar location you can visit. What if there is a billing issue and all you can do is hope someone returns your email/submitted form?

Casting agencies offering several methods of communication for customer service are the ones worth working with. Thanks to the advancements of technology there are even casting agencies with the Live Chat feature, which is always pretty neat to have available.

REVIEWS

As with any business you're thinking about working with, it doesn't hurt to do a bit of online homework and look up any reviews to see what others think. Try to be fair and realize when certain reviews are clearly written by irate individuals with an ax to grind.

It's also a good idea to ask around and see if you know any friends, family or associates who are signed to a casting agency you're interested in. Personal testimonials are always the best to have for reference.

WEBSITE APPEARANCE/USABILITY

I put this item at the bottom because you shouldn't base a casting agency's credibility solely on the appearance of the website alone but it is something to factor in. Having the fanciest, feature-filled website doesn't automatically mean a casting agency is legit but the more professional the site is, as well as the quality of the features they use and offer to members is important.

Casting agency sites that appear (or are) outdated, have super old looking photos and use very basic technology for features like photo and resume uploads may be ones you'll want to either avoid or push to the bottom of your consideration list.

Think about it: you want to use this as a tool to market yourself to potential clients and projects...do you really want to make a first impression by having your photos and info on a site that you're slightly or really embarrassed by?

Now I will say that small markets where the casting agencies aren't rolling in the dough clearly may not be in a position to have the snazziest site like the competition in larger markets and in those instances, that isn't their fault.

But if you live in an area not known to be the hub of action, it makes sense to consider signing up for a larger casting agency that posts for projects nationwide to get your profile out to a larger base. You could also sign up for the local casting agency even if it isn't the most impressive, as long as they do have quality projects posted and affordable membership fees that match the size of the market and caliber of the work they come across.

You can join as many casting agency sites as you want so once you get more familiar with these types of agencies, their services and benefits, you can easily set yourself up to cover all your bases and submit to projects both large and small, local and nationwide.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018 - The Latest on Dania Denise

Another year come and gone. What can I say about 2017?

Well, as you probably know if you've been a reader of this blog for some time now, I haven't actively been posting like I used to.

But I see it as a blessing in disguise. Think about it: I certainly love sharing all the insight and knowledge I have about the modeling industry with all of you but at the same time what kind of professional model would I be if all I did was blog every day?

If anything, I am happy I posted so much in the early years of this blog. That was mainly due to the fact that I was working in the corporate world at the time, meaning I was a slave to a computer and cubicle 5 days a week. It was easy for me to shoot off a blog post or two (or three) and keep content up regularly.

Once I broke free of the corporate shackles, however, I was finally able to take my entertainment career to the next level and not only continue to build my resume of experience and expand my network, but gain even more knowledge and how-to that I am able to pass on to you, my beloved readers.

That being said, what I can do is promise you that I will keep this blog active with posts. My plan A is to post new content once a week. Plan B is once every other week. Plan C is once a month. My list of topics to cover is extensive so there will be no shortage of things to talk, educate and inform you about in all aspects related to the modeling industry. I'll also continue to answer reader questions on my other blog (http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/).

So in that sense, things will continue as they always have. I do want to thank all of you for sticking around, your patience and wonderful messages that further encourage and motivate me to keep Modeling 101 - A Model's Diary thriving.

For those of you that follow me on social media, you'll know that I've been moving and shaking quite a bit, including wearing more hats and pursuing business opportunities that I've always had on my radar. Timing is everything and because of 2017 I'm even more energized to take things to the next level.

Don't follow me on social media or haven't had a chance to check out the latest on my happenings? Then allow me to catch you up:


THINK POST PRODUCTIONS

The Think Post Productions Team after the premiere of our first official project, "The Run."
Promo Poster Featuring The Cast of "The Run":
Alex Acosta (Landon), Mike Betancourt (Vince), Rafael Siegel (The Man), Dania Denise (Emily)


I've been fortunate this year to book a number of acting jobs but I'm not only interested in being in front of the camera. I've transitioned to being behind it as well. Along with my other two business partners/creatives, Alex & Rob, we've formed a new company: Think Post Productions.

To work with others who are just as passionate about creating as I am has been so refreshing and we've put together a winning team and have hit the ground running ever since. "The Run" was our first official project, a fun Mafia-style film where I co-star as a bartender named Emily. We had a small premiere screening in the city of Brentwood, CA, where we shot the film on location over the course of 3 days. We had a great turnout and are already in pre-production for our next short, "Monster" (working title), which I wrote and will be starring in.

Throw in weekly production meetings, writing/brainstorming sessions, rehearsals, location scouting and putting together shooting schedules and the hours really add up--not that it feels that way. Living and breathing one's craft is a dream come true and I look forward to each and every project Think Post Productions has lined up.

MISS CALIFORNIA PETITE, USA PETITE & UNIVERSAL PETITE

Cheesing with my pageant sisters:
USA Petite Mrs. 2016 Kristine McGoldrick, USA Petite Ms. 2017 Neisha Molina and USA Petite Mrs. 2017 Leah Jensen.

Being interviewed on TV about California Petite by CBS KPIX Channel 5's Kenny Choi on "Bay Sunday."

Photo op with co-host, Mick Ferrari, and this year's winners of Universal Petite:
Universal Petite Miss 2017 Kathiria Nunez (Puerto Rico) & Universal Petite Teen 2017 Guiliana Pechernicoff (Argentina)
Becoming involved in the pageant world and being a part of the USA Petite system since 2015 has opened my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities to not only continue empowering women of all ages, shapes and sizes but create a platform for shorter women to reach their goals.

As the State Director for the first ever Miss California Petite Pageant (scheduled for April 13-15, 2018), I've been busy with registering contestants, locking in the venue, working with sponsors, marketing and promoting the event via TV interviews, online article write-ups and social media, as well as continuing to participate in each year's USA Petite and Universal Petite competitions in Florida. I was blessed to serve as assistant to our founder and National Director, Hazely Lopez, during both of these events, as well as co-host/emcee the pageants with my dear friend, Mick Ferrari.

My pageant family of sister queens grew exponentially and not only did we crown some amazing new title holders in Florida this past November, several of them are becoming State Directors within the USA Petite system and will be making an appearance at my pageant in April to show their support.

My vision for bringing State Preliminaries in all 50 states to put USA Petite at the forefront of the pageant industry is one of my life's goals and so far all the signs are pointing in the direction that this is exactly where I'm meant to be and I look forward to continuing to work with and inspire short women to believe that there is no goal too high to reach for as long as you've got the right pair of heels.

HOSTING AT THE 2017 NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Hanging out on-stage with Will Ferrell. Photo: Will Bucquoy

With actor Jim Rash ("Community," "How I Met Your Mother" and tons of other TV and film credits).

With actor David Arquette.
My training as a host/emcee really came in handy this year, especially during the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival. For several days I served as a "Ringmaster," which is basically film festival lingo for "host/emcee." I welcomed film goers to my venue, the spacious and beautiful Lincoln Theater in Yountville, California, located in wine country. I also moderated Q&A sessions, networked with various directors and met a handful of celebrities.

The highlight of the Napa Valley Film Festival was hands down getting to host a special tribute for Will Ferrell. Not only did I get to meet Will, we spent time on-stage together and he even gave me a shout out during the tribute. I'm still tracking down more photos and hopefully any video clips of that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I'll be participating in the film festival each year and can't wait to see what big names come to visit the Napa Valley in 2018!

MODELING & MENTORING

Mood board I created for a model mentee's test shoot.

Helping on-set for model mentee, Gabriella.

BTS of model mentee, Zarie's test shoot.

More BTS from model mentee, Zarie's shoot and celebration afterwards.
I've been extremely picky in what modeling gigs I took on this year and I'll do more of the same for 2018. While I continue to model professionally, I've also been setting up my own shoots to produce images to enforce my branding and show potential clients and my network what I'm capable of if I'm on their project.

Additionally, I had the chance to help other models set up their careers in the form of organizing their test shoots for portfolio building, content creation for social media and even served as their stylist and onsite modeling coach during the shoots. To be able to connect with aspiring models face-to-face is so rewarding and I hope to keep getting hired for such work (to hire me for these services, visit my website: www.daniadee.com). For those I mentor/coach who are far away, Skype sessions and email communications have helped them build the confidence and skills to navigate their way through the modeling industry.

I also have a pretty exciting opportunity on my plate that I can't announce the details of yet until things are confirmed and a contract is in place but it does involve being the face of a new product campaign. Okay, that's all I'll say about that for now. You'll have to be patient and keep checking in for the latest!

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018


All the hard work I've put into 2017 has set things up to make 2018 even bigger and better. It wasn't all rainbows and puppies: loved ones were lost, we live in troubled times and are dealing with unprecedented territory both nationally and on a global scale and for as many good days we have, there are also really bad days.

That's what we call life: you choose to either hide from it or push past it and make the day given to you a better one, not just for yourself but those around you.

Change cannot be accomplished by one person. I don't aspire to change the world--I aspire to inspire change in the world. And that doesn't take some monumental feat to accomplish.

When you smile at a stranger passing by on the street, when you lend an ear and listen to someone who needs it, when you recognize pain in another person and do what you can to lift the burden, when you stand up for what is right even if it means standing alone--it all means something. It all contributes to a world where we stop becoming so selfish, entitled and close-minded. Whether some people want to admit it or not, we crave connection, meaning, understanding, something to remind us that we are alive--that we're here for a reason.

Find your reason, your passion, your purpose and take that into 2018 with you. I don't have all the answers and don't claim to have all the secrets to success but what I do know is that I refuse to let failure be an option. I know my self worth. I don't need anyone's approval, validation or permission, just my own. When a door closes, I don't go through the open window--I build my own damn door.

I say all this to say that you are responsible for your happiness, your joy and achieving your goals. Get out of your own way and you can accomplish whatever it is you set out to do, whether it's in the modeling world or something else (remember, there is more to the world than modeling).

I want to continue to thank you all for staying on this blogging journey with me and for the love and support. I'm blessed to have been a part of your lives and hearing your life stories and the ups and downs of your experiences have all served to make me a better and more effective mentor, coach, consultant and friend.

Without getting too sappy, I want to wish all of you a safe and prosperous New Year's Eve and remember that tomorrow isn't promised to any of us so when you wake up on New Year's Day, know that 2018 is exactly what you choose to make it. So make it count!