Everyone tells you little Olivia is just gorgeous, she has hair for days and eyes as big as the sea. Your little Johnny has a smile that kills and a personality to match. You get stopped in the street by strangers asking you if your child is a model and then you think to yourself “maybe I should explore this”. So what’s next? How do you get your children involved in modeling?
Here are a few things you’ll need to think about before you submit your child:
Can I take off of work in order to run my child an hour, sometimes two hours away? Can I easily take my child out of school, or whatever other programs they are involved in? Will doing this affect my other children and their schedules? How does my child do in the car? Do they mind sitting in the car for two hours only to go on a five-minute audition to then get back in the car for another two hours? How will my child be if we have to wait two hours for our audition amongst 100 other crazy children and their wacked out moms? How does my child do without their nap, if they have to nap later, or if they have to nap earlier? How does my child handle attention? Do they like new people? Are they social and friendly? How do they feel about a camera in their face while strangers tug on their clothing? Am I a psycho? Can I handle strangers putting my child in new and sometimes uncomfortable situations? Can I handle the long car rides, traffic, and long waits? If you and your child can handle these types of situations then modeling may be something you’ll enjoy together.
The next step is to find a handful of agencies in your area and explore their websites. Its important to look at who they book with, recent works, how to submit your child, and if they require any fees. Through my personal experience I have found that any reputable agency will NOT ask you to spend a dime of your own money to get started. This is very important in order to protect yourself and your child. When you submit photos its best to send photos from the waist up of your child wearing plain clothing. You want the attention on your child’s beautiful face, not what they are wearing. They need to see your child’s features, including their hair, so make sure your child is not wearing any hats. Do a little bit of editing and make sure your kid doesn’t have boogers or food on their face; we might think it’s cute but they definitely won’t. You don’t necessarily have to get professional headshots in order to do this; that will purely be up to you.
You’ve gotten a few responses by email and phone. Some want you to come in for an interview; others are accepting your child by email with no need to come in for an interview. What do you do? You stay calm, you don’t call every family member in your family tree and tell them your kid is going to be a super model, and you don’t accept any offers yet. Go on all of the interviews, it will be a good test to see how your child does in new situations. See who you get the best vibe from, you’ll want to have a good relationship with your agent because they are the ones who sell your kid to their clients. You want the person who will push your kid to their clients and the one who will be in your corner if there is a problem. Don’t worry if you didn’t get any responses, try again in 6 months.
Finally you have chosen the right agency for you and your child; now you wait for an email requesting your child show up for a casting. What now? I’ve been to many castings between both Harper and Gunnar. I’ve learned that my kids do best when we arrive a little bit early, they get some time to have a snack, have a look around, and warm up to the situation. Sometimes one of them will surprise me and walk right over to the casting team and start talking with them. Be prepared; you never know if you will be there for 5 minutes or three hours. Make sure you bring toys, food, diapers, and your happy face. You child plays off of you, if you are nervous, angry, anxious, or upset, your child will feel that and will likely not do so well on their audition. Remember, no one is forcing you to do this, so if you don’t like it don’t do it because you wont do well with a bad attitude. This one is difficult for some parents to understand but your child isn’t the only kid in the world. I was at a casting once and this woman said “ can you take me first because I have to pick up my older child” the casting agent literally looked at her and said “ you can just leave, we wont need to see your child”. Woah, lesson learned for me; never ever be a pain in the ass, there are literally hundreds of other children being looked at for the same spot. Be easy, kind, helpful, and most importantly laid back.
Yay! Your child got the booking! It is important to read all of the details pertaining to the booking. See where it is, check it out on a map and figure out how long it will take you to get there (factor in traffic, if you are late you may miss your shoot, they don’t always wait). See how long your child is booked for, it will usually say at least one hour or up to two hours. Factor in naps, and food. Make sure your kid is well fed and well rested. These two things can turn your angel into Chucky, but you already know that. Bring toys, books, and crayons; sometimes you have to wait up to an hour before it’s your child’s turn in front of the camera. Now it’s your turn and you have no idea what to do with yourself. Sometimes they’ll take your child over to the set and you can mosey on over behind the screens, other times they’ll have you kneel next to your baby so that they see you there and are comfortable to interact with the wrangler. Oh yes! The wrangler; these are magical people with bubbles, noisemakers, and toys that get your baby or child to laugh and enjoy themselves. Most are excellent at what they do and truly take the edge off for you. Sometimes there wont be a wrangler and its up to you to get your baby to smile and do what they need. I always make sure to have little toys in my bag and tiny snacks I can sneak into my kids mouths or hands that they can eat really quickly, they like their omega 3 beads so I save those on shoot days to give during the shoot. Make sure you bring your voucher (basically a receipt that they need to sign in order for you to get paid), work permit, and social security number. Sometimes the client will not ask for a single document, other times they’ll need all of the above-mentioned paperwork including your child’s bank info. I have to admit I forget these things often. I usually end up having to scan and email proper paperwork when I get home. So if you realize you’ve forgotten these documents and you are a half hour away from home, don’t turn around, just ask for an email address to send everything to.
Good luck! Remember, don’t be a pain in the ass and don’t be a helicopter parent (in all of life too, not just modeling). Be a laid back easy going person and let your child’s personality shine through.