In order for clients to make their final selections for bookings, it helps if they know a bit more about the models up for consideration.
Aside from filling out a sign-in sheet, many castings also have models fill out and submit a brief questionnaire that contains basic information such as statistics/measurements, contact info and level of experience. However, you may have also noticed a section that asks you to list any "Special Skills."
What Are Special Skills?
Sometimes included in the section of the questionnaire that asks about hobbies or special interests, special skills are any kind of talent or skill outside of modeling that you are really good at. Examples of common special skills worth noting include but are not limited to:
- Dance (ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, etc.)
- Musical instrument
- Art (painting, drawing, sketching)
- Foreign Language
Why Do Special Skills Matter in Modeling?
There are a number of reasons why clients and even agencies care about the special skills a model may have.
First, it gives them more insight as to who you are as a person and what interests you have. It also makes for great talking points during an interview so be prepared to discuss any of the special skills you list on a questionnaire or application, especially if it's something out of the ordinary or unique.
Second, it makes you more marketable for modeling opportunities that may require its models to have real-world experience for whatever role they would be playing. For example, if a client has a sportswear catalog to shoot and they need someone to wear their latest golfing attire, they may specifically want people who have golfing skills in case they decide to do any action shots, such as swinging a golf club.
A model with no golfing experience is going to need to be posed properly and will have to learn onsite how to hold their stance, the golf club, etc. However, if a model who lists golf as a special skill gets hired for the gig, chances are he/she will already know how to do basic golf poses, which saves time and money. Additionally, golf pros looking at the catalog would be able to spot a model "faking it" very easily. Using people that know what they're doing makes for a better sell to the consumers the client is targeting.
This concept applies to not just sports but clients and brands in other industries like dance and the arts, where it isn't as easy to teach a model how to "look" like a pro at whatever they're doing.
If You Think It Qualifies, Then List It
There is no hard and fast rule book that says which special skills count and which don't. If it seems special to you, then there's no harm in listing it. But don't go too far out on a limb just so you have something to put in that section on the questionnaire.
Of course if you have a ready list of special skills to offer, then you'll have no problem filling out that part during a casting but if you need a bit of assistance then take a moment to think about the things you enjoy doing, if there's anything you have a knack for and what level of experience you have doing it.
Special Skills are Optional, Not Mandatory so Don't Force It (or Fake It)
Don't have any special skills to list? That's okay. It's not a must for every model to have. But it does help greatly, depending on what kind of casting you're submitting to. However, you should never "pad" your answer to include special skills you don't really have.
Lying may get you further than the competition in the casting but you'll eventually be found out once asked to demonstrate the skill. So don't pretend to be something you're not--it'll only make you look bad and guarantee you won't get booked.
Additionally, don't suddenly sign up for a bunch of things to develop special skills you think clients or agencies may want to see. Just because a lot of models also have a background in dance (like ballet), that doesn't mean you need to start taking ballet lessons to be like them. If you're not naturally athletic, don't force yourself to join a local sports team and so on.
Your special skills should speak to something you not only do well but that is important to you...that's what should make it "special."