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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Friday, October 28, 2011

Parents of Underage Models: What to Expect

In the United States, models 17 and younger are considered "underage." As a result, they must have the consent and presence of at least one parent/guardian when it comes to anything related to the modeling industry.

If you're a parent of an aspiring model, below are some helpful factors to keep in mind to help minimize the culture shock that tends to occur when it comes to having your child working in the modeling industry:

1) The Booker Will Be Your New BFF: At an agency, each model is typically assigned a "booker." This is your go-to-person who will contact you each time a client requests your child to attend a casting or go-see. If it's a season where there is a lot of demand for models with your child's "look," you can expect to receive an abundance of calls and emails.

2) Last Minute Notifications for Castings: Unfortunately, clients don't always plan well in advance when it come so to searching for models for their projects. Most agency bookers will end up contacting you about a potential casting or go-see for your child with as little as 24-48 hour's notice. This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but last-minute castings do come with the territory. So be prepared to make that judgment call if you find yourself in such a situation.

3) Dealing With a Model's Schedule: You'll have to maintain an organized schedule for all things related to your child's modeling career. This includes not just writing down the days, times and locations of when they actually book work but when they have castings and go-sees as well. Make sure to allot enough time in between your regular schedule to accommodate modeling-related appointments.

4) A Lot of Driving: Unless you avidly use public transportation, expect to rack up some mileage while taking your child to and from castings, shoots and shows. In some instances, you may even have to fly to where the job is (this expense may or may not be covered by the client hiring your child). Agencies do not cover travel expenses so be sure to budget for gas, plane tickets and other related expenses. The good news is that they are usually tax write-offs!

5) Buying Clothes: Models have a certain wardrobe that they typically wear to castings for clients so don't be surprised if you find that you'll have to spend a couple of bucks (not a small fortune, however) on getting the right kinds of clothes for your child to wear. In most cases, these are simple items, such as the right shoes (clean sneakers, nice heels, etc.), solid colored tops and clothing that do not have brand names, logos or other distracting patterns. Think of it as a model's "uniform." Parents of underage female fashion models will want to invest in dark, skinny jeans, solid colored heels (4 inches) and solid colored, form fitting tank tops and t-shirts. Underage male fashion models can get away with regular solid colored t-shirts, shorts, jeans and clean shoes (no scuffs). Keep it simple and shop at places like Target and Wal-Mart for basic clothing needs. There's no need to buy expensive, brand name stuff, nor is that a requirement.

6) New Tax Documents: Models are independent contractors, including child models, so parents can expect to receive W-9 and 1099 forms when their child begins making income through their modeling career. W-9s are usually filled out by the parent when their child first gets signed to an agency and the 1099 forms will follow when tax season comes around. If your child earned any money through modeling, you will receive this form from the agency. Parents freelancing their services may or may not get a W-9 or 1099 form. From my research, clients have told me they do not require models/parents to fill out such forms unless they have paid them $600 or more in one year (this is for modeling services performed in the state of California). It is vital that parents include their child's tax information and report that income to avoid penalties.

7) Long Hours On-Set: Because a parent/guardian must be with their child on all things dealing with modeling, this oftentimes means being in a studio, on location or at some other venue from beginning to end. Shoots can last anywhere from 2-8 hours so parents will want to learn how to occupy their time while their child is busy working. In some cases, the agency may provide a chaperone to represent your child in the event that you are not available.

8) Portfolios & Comp Cards: These are the most important marketing tools a model has. Parents will more than likely end up carrying about a small stack of their child's comp cards out of habit in case a client requests you to leave it behind after attending a casting or go-see. Agencies send out tons of comp cards to potential clients but parents also receive a few to cover all the bases. It's all about exposure and networking. Agencies typically have their own printing company put together the comp cards so it won't have to be your responsibility. Having a hard copy portfolio, also known as a model's "book" is another vital tool to keep with you at all times. Once your child has photos and tearsheets to show off, you'll have to purchase a portfolio case to keep them in. Some agencies sell their own customized portfolio cases with the agency name on it but you are not required to use it. Plain, affordable portfolio cases can be purchased at arts and crafts stores, such as Michael's and Aaron Bros. for under $25. Never spend a fortune on a fancy portfolio case.

9) Tears & Hurt Feelings: Being rejected for a modeling assignment is never easy, especially on younger models. Depending on how your child handles rejection and/or criticism, you may have to provide a shoulder to cry on and/or helpful words of advice and encouragement in case things don't turn out well.

10)  Lots of Picture Taking: Parents of baby models in particular will find this a huge part of their child's modeling career. Because babies grow so fast, it is the parents' responsibility to not only keep their agent updated of the latest sizes but have up-to-date photos as well. In general agencies specializing in baby/toddler/child models will give you all the information and guidelines necessary to help you stay on top of this task. Failing to keep your baby's photos and stats updated could lead to losing out on potential modeling assignments and/or having your agent submit your child for a gig they do not meet the size requirements for, which is definitely not a good thing.

11) A Memorable Experience: Regardless of whether your child only books local gigs or ends up doing work on a national/international scale, being immersed in the modeling industry from a parent's point of view is pretty cool. In addition to having bragging rights (keep this to a minimum please LOL), parents are also in on the action and have a firsthand look into how a photoshoot, runway show and other modeling projects are created from start to finish. Whether your child ends up making this a serious career or ends up moving on to something else later on, you'll undoubtedly have some great experiences together and fond memories to look back on.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering should teens, both male and female models, be careful about working and posing with models of the opposite sex who are much older even if these models might have a tendency look like teenagers? Should they pose with models their age instead

Anonymous said...

Hey Dania,
Just out of curiosity, how much do VS models get paid?

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your question in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #216." Thanks for reading!

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous (#2)! You'll find the answer to your question in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #218." Thanks for reading!