Submitting to Modeling Agencies During a Pandemic: What to Expect
I already did a post about modeling during this difficult time but it's also important to highlight some useful information for aspiring models on the search for agency representation.
Unfortunately, this isn't such a hot time right now for agencies when it comes to finding new faces. Not all agencies operate the same way and each market has its own guidelines for how to pursue "business as usual," so your experience submitting to agencies will vary widely depending on where you live, what market the agencies are located in, the type of modeling you want to pursue, etc.
To help curb any anxiety or confusion, below are a few things to keep in mind to prepare you for what to expect:
NO OPEN CALLS
A majority of modeling agencies have suspended all open calls until further notice. This announcement is a common one splashed on the homepages of many agency sites. When that will change is anyone's guess but it would be wise to not call or email them to ask. When the agencies feel it is safe to resume having open calls, they'll be sure to shout it from the rooftops. So for now, don't expect to attend any open calls anytime soon.
OFFICES CLOSED OR AT LIMITED CAPACITY
For markets where pandemic case loads are still high, agencies have closed their offices. As a result, bookers and other agency staff are working from home. That means they're still answering phone calls, emails and conducting business but there's no one in the actual office building. If there is, it's at a limited capacity and they might only be seeing people for interviews (not open calls) so if you show up, you better have an appointment.
Many businesses, including modeling agencies, completely shut down once the pandemic hit hard and reopening means not only picking up where you left off but digging yourself out of tons of missed calls and emails and other backlogged workloads. And that means...
DELAYS IN REPLYING TO SUBMISSIONS
Even though the pandemic halted business for countless companies, its highly likely the new model submissions continued to roll in. It typically takes between 6-8 weeks for an agency to respond back to models they're interested in (remember: they will only reply if they're potentially considering representing you). With this snag in the business timeline, it goes without saying that being backlogged and playing catchup could cause delays.
Even for agencies that tend to respond faster than 6-8 weeks, respect the fact that they've got a lot on their plates...more than usual. That means you'll have to learn to be extra patient while waiting for your submissions to be replied to. Again: do NOT call or email them to follow up and check whether they've received your submission or not!
DOING ONLINE/VIRTUAL INTERVIEWS
Before the pandemic, it was highly unlikely for reputable modeling agencies to conduct their interviews online via Skype or Zoom. In fact, it wasn't uncommon for such a request to be considered a red flag of a potential scam.
Now agencies are making some tweaks to the recruiting process, including having online interviews with potential models. Not all agencies are doing this and I don't know if it will grow to be commonplace but for now it is a compromise of sorts for those actively signing new models.
It is still very important to exercise caution when receiving, accepting and moving forward with a request for an interview with an agency. Signs it is a legitimate opportunity include but are not limited to the following:
- The agency is responding to a submission you sent. Getting an online interview request from an agency completely out of the blue that you weren't expecting is a huge red flag.
- If contacted via email, the sender's address ends with the name of the agency (i.e. @elitemodel.com or @nextmodels.com).
- If contacted via DM/social media, the sender's profile is verified.
NOT ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS AT ALL
Believe it or not, COVID has been such a nuisance, it's caused some agencies to post on their websites that they're not accepting new talent until further notice. While the reasons aren't listed and vary from agency to agency, it isn't surprising. With the workforce shutting down and slowly reopening across the country, agencies have lost clients or had things placed on pause until people can figure out their next moves.
When the workflow is unsteady and unpredictable, oftentimes it's easier (and less costly) for agencies to not take on new models and instead focus on managing the ones they currently have. It's a smart business decision and you can't be mad at them for that. Similar with the pause on open calls, once the coast is clear to start taking submissions, the agency will post those updates on their social media profiles, as well as on their websites. You'll just have to keep checking back.
JET SETTING IS A NO GO
New fashion models freshly groomed and trained to hit international markets might be sad to learn they've been grounded due to the pandemic. COVID is hitting each part of the globe in different ways and while some countries are fortunate to have flattened their curve, that doesn't mean they're eager to accept out of town visitors and open themselves up to risk of new cases.
Travel restrictions are all over the place and differ depending on the destination. If you've gotten signed as a runway model and the plan was to originally have you country hop for work, try not to be too discouraged if those plans have since been cancelled.
Your agent is still going to be working their butt off to get you go-sees and bookings so do what you can and work with what you've got.
Patience is going to have to be a huge virtue for you newbies wanting to get signed to an agency. Although scouting is still happening and new models are being brought onto rosters, the frequency and time frame for these things to unfold is going to continue to be affected by the pandemic. No one at this point can predict when or if things will ever go back to the way they were before.
As a result, we're all operating under special circumstances and have to go with the flow. There will always be clients in need of agencies to help match them with models who can get the job done so don't worry, the modeling world isn't going anywhere.