I recently got a message on Instagram from a girl that I went to college with. She was wondering how I got into modeling– a few people had reached out to her about it in the past, and she wanted to know what was legit and what wasn’t.
I was so happy when I got this message because I have reached out to other (more successful) models many times to ask for their advice, and always appreciated it so much! I am so happy to be able to help someone else with something that they are interested in, but may not be totally comfortable with yet.
I remember when I first started out modeling, I was at dinner with a friend and he asked me, “What is your ‘happiest life’ job?” I knew right away that the answer was modeling full-time. It took him asking this question directly for me to realize it, but if I can help someone else in this way, I’m all for it!
So, I figured I’d write a post about “How to Become a Model.” If you’ve read my posts The Open Call and The Contract, you know that the opportunity to sign with an agency kind of just fell into my lap one day. I’m aware that this was SO lucky, so I figured this post could help someone who wants to really pursue modeling as a career but doesn’t know where to start.
As always, please note that I’m not an expert, but merely sharing my own experiences and opinions that I hope will provide some insight!
The first thing that I would do is start with research. Look up different kinds of modeling–there are so many more than you think. I’m a Fit model (read about Fit Modeling here), so I’m not the super skinny, glamorous model you’ll see on billboards or subway ads. If this is your dream, then go for it. But, if you’re not so sure, there are a ton of other directions you can take. You’re more likely to be successful if you know exactly what kind of modeling you want to get into and why.
Next, start researching agencies. There are A LOT. Start by going to https://models.com/agencies/.
- Decide if you’d be more comfortable at a smaller agency starting out, or if you want to go balls-to-the-wall and apply to a huge agency right away.
- Read up on what each agency’s scouting process is. Some agencies will have submission options on their website, some offer weekly open calls, and some will specify that they are not looking for new talent at the moment.
- Location is also huge. If you’re too far from the agency, it’s going to make it difficult for them to place you.
- Check out which “divisions” they have (examples include lifestyle, fit, curve, fitness, etc). This is where the type of modeling you’re looking at comes in. Some agencies only offer a few divisions, while some are full-service talent agencies with actors as well as all types of models.
- Look at the models on the agency website: Does this agency have a certain “look” among all their models? What are their measurements? How many are there per division?
Every agency is different, so devouring their website is a key first step.
Once you’ve narrowed your options down, consider reaching out to one of their models on Instagram or by email to ask about their experiences with that agency. I’ve done this a couple times, and they are usually super helpful!
Side note: From many hours of sitting in the waiting room at my agency listening to the receptionist answer the phone, I can tell you this: don’t call agencies asking how to get scouted without checking the website. The info is probably online.
2. Reach Out
The way that you reach out to an agency depends on what you find out while researching. Here are a couple of different ways you can reach out to an agency to apply to become a model:
- Submit a form on the website. This will likely require you to take a few specifically posed photos and take measurements of yourself. (NOTE: These do NOT need to be professionally taken…just use your phone…no filters!!) Here is my agency’s submission form (STATE Management) for reference:
- Attend an open call. This is probably the best way to get in to the agency, show them your look in person and get all your questions answered. They’ll most likely give it to you straight and on the spot, so there’s no waiting around for an email to come in. Many of these are postponed at the moment because of the pandemic, but here is what it will look like if an agency offers open calls:
- Be very skeptical if someone reaches out to you about becoming a model, even if they say they are from a certain agency. There are lots of imposters out there (Instagram is crawling with them), so before giving any personal information, do some fact-checking!
3. Reassure Yourself
This step is the most important! It’s so easy to get lost in the world of Instagram where half of the posts you see are of beautiful models in exotic locations wearing expensive clothes. I recently decided to unfollow anyone whose posts made me feel anything negative. This includes: feeling self-conscious, feeling a need to buy something to look a certain way, feeling discouraged, etc. There’s absolutely no reason to follow Kylie Jenner if every time you see a post you’re thinking “I wish my waist was that small” (yes, this was me).
Getting denied by an agency (this is a possibility) isn’t going to be easy, but DON’T give up. The point is, you’re probably not going to be a success if you don’t believe in yourself first. Reassuring yourself that this dream is actually possible is so, so important. And reassuring yourself that you are beautiful, even more so.
Anyway, let me introduce you to the girl who (without knowing it) gave me the push to finally dive into modeling: Camille Kostek.
Also being a cheerleader from Connecticut, I already felt a connection with this gorgeous gal, and then I saw her Sports Illustrated Swim Search video in 2017 when SI was having an open call. My first thought was “holy crap…this girl’s body looks just like mine.” (No joke, I think I watched her video 20 times in a row). My mind was blown that someone that was on the shorter side (AKA under the 5’9 required by most agencies) with curvy hips like mine was auditioning for this competition–and then won. Seeing this girl strut her stuff on the Sports Illustrated Swim runway literally gave me the courage that I desperately needed to grow a pair and sign my contract (and then stress-eat a tub of ice cream after sending it in).
I wouldn’t be where I am today in my modeling career if it weren’t for Camille, so girl, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was actually lucky enough to get a personal shoutout from her a while back, which meant more to me than she could ever know! (Shoutout to one of my best friends, Greg, for making this happen for me.) Click here to watch the video!
If you’re interested in modeling and feeling stuck, feel free to reach out to me by email at email@example.com or on Instagram (@kaemerson)!
To see my STATE Management portfolio, go here.
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