It’s hard enough to make it as a successful model… but what about child models? As the parent of an aspiring child model, you’ll play an integral role in setting the direction of your child’s modelling career and as you can imagine, the safety concerns of child modelling need to be taken very seriously.
If you’re the parent of a child model….
Make sure the agency actually represents children.
Not every agency will represent children and even if they do, their management may not cater specifically for the nuances of finding jobs for child models so it’s important (as with all agencies) to do appropriate research. Look around agency websites thoroughly and learn how you can submit your child for representation – the process is a lot different than for regular models. Child models will not attend go-sees, but instead are submitted by a parent or guardian – this can involve booking an appointment or attending a talent call. Make careful note to pay attention to the age ranges represented… it’s always worth a shot! If your child is a little bit older than the ages represented, don’t simply give up. They may be looking for someone just like your child!
Work out if your child wants to be an actor, a model or both.
Child models are always in great demand and if your child wants to be an actor as well as a model, you should be seeking a talent agency over a modelling agency. A talent agency will help your child book acting and modelling gigs… and as a parent this means one set of commission and agency instead of two. Anything that makes your life simpler is a bonus!
Location, location, location.
First consider applying your child to local agencies rather than jumping the gun and going for the bigger name agencies interstate or far away. Attending auditions (as for adults) is not paid for child models, so the routine of taking your child to auditions (plus accompanying food, travel, accommodation and other expenses) can eat away at your bank account. And, like other models, be prepared for the fact that it may take a while until your child is ‘discovered’!
Starting local will allow you to build a portfolio for your child which ultimately will help them get better jobs in the long run.
Look at agency rosters online.
Many agencies that represent children will have online photo galleries that allow you to view the current talent on their roster… study this carefully and get a feel for which children routinely are selected. If you see lots of kids with a similar look as your child, you may be in with a good chance. If you don’t see other kids with a similar look as your child, don’t be discouraged though… many clients are seeking diversity and your child could be exactly what they’re looking for, so it never hurts to apply.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your child needs expensive portfolio photos.
Agencies and clients looking for child models and child actors understand that children grow exceptionally fast… this means that expensive headshots are often wasted as just as soon as you’ve taken them and added them to your child’s portfolio… the child has grown and looks different! Agencies and clients typically prefer snapshots of child models and child actors so they can get a better understanding of how the child typically looks day to day. Once your child is signed to an agency, they will need professional photos… but this is usually covered by the agency so until that point, don’t waste your hard earned money on something that will have to be redone anyway!
If an agency goes in with hard sales tactics, be careful.
A contract should always be offered to you first before you’re required to pay anything. And, as always, it’s never ever appropriate for an agency to try to coerce you into signing a contract on the spot. You should always take your time to take the contract away, look over it and ask any questions if necessary.
Agencies who say that they can sweep the rug out from under your child if you don’t sign on the spot are usually fishy, so trust your instinct and walk away to find better opportunities!
Many agencies will offer a list of recommended photographers that they’ve worked with in the past, but the final decision should always be yours.
If you have a photographer that you want your child to work with, you should be afforded this opportunity. Children will react in photos depending on their level of comfort with the photographer so it’s important that you and your child both trust and feel comfortable around the photographer that you choose.
Ask lots of questions and trust your gut instinct.
Never take anything at face value – your child’s livelihood, career direction and safety is in your hands and sadly, many individuals may seek to exploit child models and their parents. It’s up to you to do your due diligence, ask lots of questions, get clarification and make sure you’re comfortable with any situation that your child enters.
These are all run-of-the-mill questions agencies are accustomed to addressing so there should be no reason why they should give you a hard time, get defensive or otherwise not provide you with answers. The way an agency interacts with you in the beginning is a great way to get an idea of what moving forward with them would look like once you accept the contract offer.
Child modelling can be incredibly rewarding in both experience and financial earnings… but above all, it should always be FUN for the child. As a parent, make sure that you’re always putting your child’s best interests at heart.