All About You
Here's what it's like to pursue modeling in L.A.
This summer, I decided to start chasing a dream I'd had since I was little: becoming a model. The job allows you to travel the world, immerse yourself in the world of fashion and collab with amazing brands, (not to mention being in mags like Girls' Life!). With models like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne racking up millions of followers on Instagram, lots of hopefuls are interested in taking their place on the catwalk. That's why I'd like to share what I've learned over the past few months, from what to wear to an open call to how to deal with rejection.
When I say I've been "pursuing" modeling, I mean I've been trying to get signed to a modeling agency. Getting signed is the first step to booking jobs and building a portfolio. Agencies never take money from you for any reason. Instead, when you get work, they take a percentage of your payment. An agency that asks for money (or photos of you in underwear or nude) is a scam, and you should report them. The reputable modeling agencies (such as IMG, Elite, Next, Wilhelmina and Ford) have launched the careers of nearly all of your faves. If you live in (or near) a big city like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago or Miami, it's likely that you'll be able to attend an open call at one of these agencies. More on that later.
For those of you who don't live close enough to go to an open call, digital submissions are the way to go. Agency websites often have a form you can fill out with your information, including your age, height and measurements, as well as a place for you to submit photographs of yourself. Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back right away! These agencies can receive hundreds of applications per day, and they only respond to a small percentage of them.
If you can't find immediate placement at a major agency, mother agencies are a great way to build a portfolio and increase your chances of being signed. There are plenty of mother agencies around the country—just make sure they are legitimate before you apply.
The final way to get signed seems the easiest: using scouting hashtags. Hashtags like #wlyg (we love your genes), #fordmodelsnextgen and #wescoutusa give you the chance for your social media profile to be seen by scouts and agents. Only a few people are scouted this way, but it's worth taking a shot. Note that your Instagram must be public for your photos to be seen—and if you're under 18, you should talk with your parents before doing so.
Preparing For Open Calls
Even though we live in the Digital Age, open casting calls are still held alongside online submissions to agencies. It's a great way for scouts to see how you look in person and get to know your personality. I've been to four open casting calls this summer, all in Los Angeles. Each one was a slightly different experience, but there were some ground rules I picked up on along the way.
1. Check before you go
If you don't live right in the city, this is especially important. You don't want to drive out to a call only to find out you got the date wrong. Most agencies list their open call times on their website, though some require you to call. Other agencies, like IMG, don't hold open calls at all. Knowing ahead of time will help you prepare and put your mind at ease.
Another thing to check: height requirements. Unfortunately, a lot of major agencies require you to be at least 5'8" to be considered at an open call. They also have age requirements, which vary. If you don't meet these requirements, a mother agency or digital submissions are the way to go.
2. Be on time
Many open calls are only held for one hour. Showing up halfway through isn't a good look—scouts might take this to mean you're unprofessional, or don't take modeling seriously. It's best to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the call; that way, if a lot of people show up, you won't be standing in line for too long.
3. Dress simply
The standard attire for an open call (for girls) is form-fitting black jeans and a tight black tank top, along with heels. Your hair should be worn down and natural. If it's usually curly, rock your curls. Never try to change your look to what you think they want to see. Being natural is the best look.
While every call I went to asked for you to wear jeans, plenty of girls (including myself, as seen in the pic above) wore black shorts. It's good to stick to what's asked of you, but if it's super hot out, no one will punish you for wearing shorts.
4. Minimal makeup required
AKA no fake lashes, no bold lipstick, no blush. A little mascara and lip gloss, and maybe your lightest foundation is passable, but the agency might think you're not following their instructions—especially if they ask for no makeup. Again, scouts want to see you at your most natural.
The Actual Call
At the first agency open call I went to, I and about ten other people waited in a hallway to be called into a room one by one. While we waited, we were asked to fill out a form with our name, age, height and email. In the room, two agents asked me questions: What grade are you taking in school? What are your plans for the future? Have you ever modeled before? What do you like to do besides modeling?
A model I've talked to who works in the industry says that honesty is the best policy with these questions. She emphasized mentioning things that make you unique—for example, I mention that I write for Girls' Life and like to hike. Showing that you have well-rounded interests makes you more memorable in the minds of agents.
None of the actual calls took more than ten minutes, and they all ended with the agents telling me they'd email me in a week if they were interested. Unfortunately, that didn't happen—which leads me to the final section of this article.
Dealing With Rejection
Modeling is rejection. The industry model I spoke with said above all else, you have to learn not to take rejection personally. The 'girl' agencies are looking for changes from month to month. Just because they're looking for someone different doesn't mean you should give up on modeling.
I still haven't gotten signed to an agency, but I'm going to keep trying and see what happens. If nothing comes of this but the experience, that's still something. I've been pushed out of my comfort zone by going to calls, gotten to see more of Los Angeles and learned about an industry I've been curious about since I was little. Plus, I've gotten to share my experience through my other passion: writing.
If you're looking to start your modeling journey, remember to be wary of scams, have your parents' permission and support and feel confident in yourself. Focus on having a good time, and save yourself from wondering what if? down the line. And remember to keep up other hobbies, too. Whether you run or draw, working on yourself in other areas of your life will help you be a better model, and a better person.
What dream are you trying to pursue? And how do you stay motivated? Let us know in the comments below!