Hi Dania! I wanted to know more about modeling over-seas. I'm in the process of signing a contract with a mother agency in Thailand and I would love to know how it is to work and live as a model in a foreign country!
Hi, Anonymous! Congrats on your offer to work in Thailand...how exciting! I've never had the opportunity to model overseas so I don't have any personal experiences/advice to give you but below are some tips to consider from fellow models I know who have worked and modeled in other countries:
- Pack Wisely: Stick to bringing your must-have toiletries, makeup products, skin care items and other personal things for grooming. This is especially important since Thailand may not carry the exact products in their stores that you normally would go out and purchase regularly. Do not over pack! The only thing aside from toiletries that you should bring include plenty of extra underwear (this is the best solution in case you're not able to do laundry often), shoes (for modeling related work as well as everyday stuff...i.e. sneakers, sandals, etc.) and clothes that are appropriate for the season(s) you'll be staying there as well as what is needed for casting calls. Make sure to research what the weather will be like by the time you arrive in Thailand, which will help you with choosing the right outfits. In the worst case scenario, you can always buy clothes once you get to Thailand. In this case, less is definitely more.
- Learn the Culture: The more you know about Thailand's people, culture, customs and society, the more comfortable you'll find transitioning into living and working there, as well as decrease your chances of having an awkward/embarrassing moment. The Thai people are very friendly and hospitable. It's helpful to make an attempt to learn basic phrases and things in their language if possible...nothing flatters people in another country more than knowing you care enough to learn their language.
- Depending on the contract terms, you may end up living with other models. To save money, most models live together in tight quarters, known as "model dorms" or "model housing." I've had models tell me that Asia is the only market currently that covers the cost of a model's travel and living expenses upon their arrival--however, you MUST pay back this amount through the money you receive from your modeling assignments. The actual numbers for the agency commission vary but for example, in China, the mother agency takes 10% and the Chinese agency will take 40% from each booking, so a model would only actually make 50% of the total amount. And that is the money he/she will have to use towards paying back all of their expenses, although they are given some "pocket money" for the week to cover things such as groceries, transportation and basic needs. In China the models are paid in Chinese currency...not sure about Thailand but don't be surprised if you aren't given American money as payment. So you may need to learn how to do proper conversion from the American dollar to the Thai Baht.
- Expect to attend a lot of castings and go-sees. This will be the bulk of the work you'll be doing in addition to obviously doing shoots, shows and other related work...after all, you can't get booked for anything if you don't attend a casting/go-see. You will be responsible for getting to and from your castings with clients. You may or may not be traveling with other models or someone else from the agency. You'll definitely want to learn to become familiar with the public transportation and routes/directions to better navigate the area you'll be living and working in.