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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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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Modeling for the Wrong Reasons


While going through some old photos in my room the other day, I came across my very first modeling/acting headshot, which is the photo associated with this post. Aside from bringing back a lot of memories, I also stopped to realize how far the modeling industry has come, both the good and the bad. And it made me think about how differently the approach to modeling was just a decade ago.

When I first got the flyer in the mail for a San Francisco open casting call, which will have been exactly 10 years ago for me in February (how time flies!), I didn't pursue the industry because I wanted to be a supermodel or to make a million dollars--I wanted to do it because it looked like it would be fun.

That's not to say that I wasn't passionate, but during the time I was growing up, modeling wasn't in the forefront like it is today. There was no "America's Next Top Model," heck, there was no such thing as reality tv. I didn't flip through high fashion magazines admiring the models. But it seemed like something new and exciting to try and as I became more involved, I fell in love with it and that is why all these years later, I am still dedicating my time and energy towards this profession.

Unfortunately, many things change over time and I can definitely say that has happened not only with how people view the modeling world, but the reasons that people aspire to be models in the first place. Now this is not to say that there aren't any of you out there who aren't passionate or who haven't wanted to do this since birth--I know you're all out there and kudos to you.

But there are those few that kind of have the wrong idea about being a model and why they want to do it. So I thought it would be good to post some of the wrong reasons people use for wanting to be a model and why those reasons aren't what modeling is all about...

To Be Famous

I hate to break it to you, but not all models become "famous." Most you wouldn't even recognize on the street unless they managed to book a high profile campaign that splashes their face all over. Not everyone can or will be a supermodel. Out of the thousands of people who get into the modeling game, exactly 1% become supermodels. Sad but true.

While you should pursue modeling to be the best, doing it soley to be famous isn't a very good reason. If you manage that success, that's wonderful but you also have to be realistic about the odds and the competition. You can't go into this industry with stars in your eyes or delusions of grandeur. Keep your hopes high but at the same time keep your feet on the ground. You'll be sorely disappointed if you think that being a model will instantly boost you to stardom.

To Be Filthy Rich

Surprisingly, not all modeling gigs pay well. The key to making a substantial amount of money that you can live off of is to sign major contracts with companies, get endorsements, and to constantly book high-paying jobs on a regular basis. Much easier said than done, trust me.

For the younger ladies who have yet to graduate from school and be on their own, you should take what I have to say on this subject to heart. If you think about it, editorial gigs pay chump change compared to higher end jobs...usually $250-300. Sure that's better than nothing and no one should turn down this type of work but when it comes to paying rent on your apartment, studio, etc., a car note, bills, getting one or two editorial gigs a month just isn't going to cut it.

Sure, there are jobs that pay much, much more (I just did a casting for a Verizon print ad that pays $2,000 for one day), but the odds of consistently getting that type of work is slim. If you think that you'll have an easy time living solely off your income as a working model, you will be very disappointed. I'm not saying all this to knock you down, but it helps to know the truth. Not all modeling jobs pay well to the point that you can completely live off of it, unless you do hit supermodel status.

There are many working models who book gigs but still work part-time for more money. This doesn't mean they are not successful models, but the reality is that if you're thinking about going into modeling purely for the financial gain, you may want to choose another profession or at least be willing to get an extra job to support yourself. This is why I always stress the importance of getting an education and having a backup career for yourself.

To Travel and Walk Down the Runway

Unfortunately, your height will dictate how far you will or will not go in the industry and if you aren't at least 5'8" or a stunning 5'7" chances are you won't be on a runway for a huge designer or jet-setting around the world. As much as I hate the height restriction, it is a reality that I've come to accept and so should all of my shorter gals. There is more to modeling than just fashion so don't get discouraged if you don't grow taller. Work with what you've got and apply yourself to other fields of modeling that are open to you.

To Be a Part of the Glamour

I'll be the first to say that there are no words to describe the adrenaline rush I feel while in the middle of a photoshoot. However, there are words to describe other parts of being a model: unglamourous (is that even a words? haha). It isn't all fun and games, makeup and posing.

There are hours of standing around, wearing a ton of makeup (which may look great but doesn't always feel great), wearing crazy outfits, doing poses that hurt but require you to look comfortable, and getting up at ridiculous hours for the "perfect lighting." Then there's the freezing temperatures where you're required to wear a thin dress or worse--a bathing suit--and have to act like you're on a tropical beach.

This may not sound as serious as you would think but believe me, I've shot in San Francisco in an evening gown on a cloudy day when it was about 55 degrees and I had to be sexy and totally comfortable in front of the camera.

The photoshoots you see on tv are just a small snippet of what occurs throughout an entire day of shooting. There is much more to the edited segments you see on your favorite show. If you think the modeling is all about looking and sitting pretty, you're so wrong.

To Be in a Magazine

Unless you've got a really great agent, the chances of booking a magazine spread is very slim. Before you can even think about what type of work you want to do, you've got to get a highly reputable agent who can get that job for you. However, getting an agent is one of the toughest challenges when it comes to pursuing a modeling career. It isn't as simple as walking in and saying, "Sign me!"

So before you get all geared up about what publications you'll grace the pages of, plan what agencies to see who can help you reach that goal. While in the middle of your agency search, you'll quickly see how your dreams of being in a magazine will take a backseat to trying to find someone who will at least give you a chance in the first place.

So That You'll Never Have to Get a Job or Work a Day in Your Life

Once again, people, unless you become the next "it" supermodel, this is probably one of the most unrealistic expectations for an aspiring model to have. While modeling can be a career, it does not provide the stability that a regular job or career does. I know not too many people think very far ahead into their future, but if anything think about this: as a model signed with an agency, you are working as an independent contractor.

What does that mean? It means that your agency (although it may seem like it) is not your boss and is not your employer. This means you don't get health insurance (so no vision or dental), you don't get any other types of benefits either, like pay raises, or a 401(k) plan so you can start saving for retirement. All you get are your checks and the work in your portfolio.

If you want to make a stable and steady living on your own 10 years from now, modeling is not going to make the cut unless--like I've been saying throughout this entire post--you hit it big, which is rare. What you have to realize is that all models are replaceable. There will always be the need for the newest and next "it" girl or guy and even the best models can be knocked off their pedestals. Not to mention that if you don't age well, you're not going to get future work.

Bottom line: seeking modeling as a way out of having to work a regular job and be well taken care of for a long time is not just unrealistic, it's foolish. Plan for your future better than that. Modeling should be an asset in your life, not a crutch. You don't want to be the former model who gets out of the game and doesn't have any work skills or educational background to pick up where life left you off.

Modeling is not and will never be easy. I'm not listing these points to discourage anyone but I don't think it's wise to go into this business without knowing the hard truth, either. It's better to know exactly what you're getting into. Once the initial shock wears off, your head will be much clearer about what to expect and you'll be able to better plan how you will approach getting your foot in the door.

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