How To Become A Model

In this era of celebrities, luxury, and over the top popularity; many young girls acquire the dream to become a top model. For to be a model is to be part of an elite group of enticing, statuesque, and elegant women. Thus admitting one to the highest class of beauty where the potential for fame and fortune is endless. But how does one break into such an exclusive industry? It's easier said than done….

Important terms to know and understand:

1. Agency/Agent: The person in charge of your career and all the money you earn. Booking you work, sending you to castings, making you money. They take between ten percent to seventy percent of your earnings depending on where you are in the world. In New York the standard rate taken out of your pay check is twenty percent, while in Paris the standard rate taken out of your paycheck is seventy percent.

2. Booking: A job the model is going to do and get paid for; also known as work. Can be in the form of a photo-shoot, runway show, magazine editorial…etc.

3. Digitals /Polaroids: Simple, no makeup, natural photos to show your true appearance. A clean and blank canvas.

4. Model Apartment: A place for models to stay/ live if they are not from a big city where there agency is located.

5. Casting Director: Someone who's job it is to hire models for work (runway shows, magazine editorials, campaigns..etc)

6. Casting: The equivalent of a model's job interview

7. Portfolio: A compilation of the model's photos that show their diversity and past experience

8. Comp Card: Similar to a resume, the comp card has all of the model's measurements listed- bust size, waist size, hips size- shoe size, dress size, color of eyes, color of hair, and height; along with 5 pictures. One main picture on the front and four smaller pictures on the back.

The key factors that create a model


Since modeling is all about one's physical appearance you need to have a specific look for a specific market. There are four main categories of models; High Fashion, Commercial, Petite, and Plus.

High Fashion models are 5'9” and up for height, dress size 0-4, and must have an unique look. Most people have preconceived beliefs that models have to beautiful to make it in this industry, but this is simply false. Model's are quite frankly just different looking; as long as you have a rare look about you, or as the french like to say, that “Je ne sais quoi” your physical appearance can qualify you as a high fashion model.

Commercial models are usually 5'7”-5'9” in height, dress size 2-6, and have a normal/ girl next door look. Meaning they are considered to be your average pretty face girls. Commercial models can be seen in catalogs, back to school commercials, etc. They are the models who make you want to buy the clothes because they look so gosh darn happy wearing them.

Petite models are 5'7” and under in height, their dress size varies, and they have a normal look similar to that of commercial models. Since petite modeling is such a small industry there isn't a lot of work, but if you want to model and are on the shorter side its a great option!

Plus models are 5'8” and up in height, dress size 8 and up, and range from a high fashion look to commercial look depending on the agency they are signed with. Plus models are also referred to as curve models, fiercely real models, and/ or curvacious models. Plus size modeling is an amazing market because you have the opportunity to make a lot of money. This is due to the fact that the average American woman is a size 8 and up, so stores need models to wear the clothes.

All in all, models need to have an interesting and appealing presence that draws people to them. That is why they are getting paid in the first place.

2.Attitude and attributes

The difference between a top model and a model is their attitude. In order to make it in this industry you have to be polite, intelligent, hard working, and confident. You never know who is who at a casting, job, or photo-shoot; so always be kind and conscientious of others. Being intelligent is not something most people associate as a quality of models, but it is essential for one's success. You are your own business, literally, so you need to take control of your life. Be on top of your finances, income, and who is involved with your career. If you are not on top of your life, how can you expect to be on top in your career? Not only are book smarts important, but street smarts are essential!! Models travel a lot so you have to be on top of where you are in the world and what to do/ not to do in certain situations. Just stay safe and be aware of your surroundings. Hard-working is pretty self explanatory- either you are hard working or you aren't. If you are hard-working , people will notice and book you more….but if you are lazy, people will notice, and therefore not book you for work.

Last but certainly not least is my favorite quality, CONFIDENCE! When someone is confident they exude beauty and strength; two things a model needs in order to be successful. Confidence is understanding that no one in this business is perfect and no one needs to be, just be yourself, stay true to you, and if it is meant to be, it will be. Casting directors and agents can spot confidence in a second, so before you even begin modeling, make sure you are comfortable in your skin because it shows! This business is filled with rejection; you will be turned down more than you will be booked, but that’s life. You will be called ugly, fat, un-bookable- but you can not let it tear you down. That my friends is the difference between a top model and a model, top models do not let things bother them, models do.


The modeling industry is filled with rejection; if it were easy everyone would do it. Do to the fact it is a business based around one's appearance, people find nothing wrong with criticism, judgment, and rude comments towards you. Model's are chewed up, spit out, and stepped on every day of their career; but if you want to succeed in this business you can NEVER and I mean never give up, no matter what. In the end it will all be worth it. For I would rather regret something I did, than regret not doing it at all.

The Next Step

If you are lucky enough to have all of these features, congratulations, you are now one step closer to becoming a model! The next step is to have a close friend or family member take plain digitals, polaroids, and/or pictures of you. What is a digital? A digital is a no makeup, natural, and plain photo that shows your true appearance. This is what the agencies want to see. Wear body conscious clothing, as in a plain tank top and jeans, or a tight dress; and have your hair natural. Stand against a white wall with natural light shining in on you. You will only need four photos: a head shot, profile shot, ¾ body shot, and a full length shot.

Once this is complete, Google modeling agencies in your area and pick your top 5 to submit your photos too. On the agencies website there will directions on how to send your pictures; either via email or by link on the website. If the agency is interested in you, they will contact you and call you in for a meeting; but if they are not interested you will not hear back. It can take up to a month for a response, so be patient! If you do not hear back from anyone, do not give up! Simply take new digitals in two months and submit again. But if you do receive an email back, congratulations, you have made it to the next step.

This step is the most crucial of the entire process because it is your interview, your chance to get an agent, your shot at becoming a real model; and with my tips you are sure to nail it! Prior to the meeting be sure to get a facial and your teeth whitened a week before the scheduled date; you want to be looking fresh and expensive. Go shopping and buy a new coat, sunglasses, or some type of accessory to jazz up your outfit. The outfit you must wear to this meeting needs to be similar to the outfit you wore in your digitals. You want to be plain with just enough pizazz to show you have style. If you have long hair be sure to wear your hair down, but bring a hair elastic to put your hair up during the meeting. As for makeup, keep it light and natural; concealer, tinted moisturizer, mascara, and lip balm is all you need! If you wear a full face of heavy and caked on makeup you will be laughed at, or worse, not even let in the door. Less is more!!!

There are a few things you will need to bring to the meeting. These items include a pair of high heels, your portfolio if you have one ( but if you don't simply bring some print outs of your polaroids), and lastly take some breath mints (you can't have stinky breath!) Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night of your meeting so your skin will be fresh and ready to impress. Agencies want healthy, fresh, and happy models working with them; not tired, sick, and irritated models. With that being said, the most important thing is to be on time!!!!!!! DO NOT BE LATE, if you are late to your meeting you will more likely than not be turned away by the receptionist at the door. I suggest arriving ten minutes early; any earlier you will look desperate but any later will not be early enough- trust me the modeling industry is insane. Before you walk into the building take a moment to calm your nerves because the agents can smell fear a mile away. Take three deep breaths…. in and out, affirming to yourself that you are beautiful, confident, and important with each exhale- this is your time to shine.

The Meeting

The moment you have been waiting for, your meeting with your potential agent, the person who decides if you are going to be a model or not (If they say no then just try again, do not give up), the start at the rest of your life. Now since every agency is different, there is no exact formula to this interview process. But when you first enter the agency you will sign in with the receptionist at the front desk and she will hand you a paper to fill out. On this paper you will simply be re-writing everything you wrote on the application on the agency’s website…..kind of pointless but its part of the process. Once you hand this paper in they will most likely make you wait for five to ten minutes just to show you that their time is more important than yours. Let me reiterate how ruthless this industry is, you need to prove yourself before you are respected.

After about ten to fifteen minutes you will have now waited the allotted time, signed all the papers, re applied your chap stick- it is now time to meet the agents. First you will meet the agent (also called booker) in charge of signing new models to the agency. Hopefully they are nice, but some are very nasty and rude; just be polite and do not speak unless spoken to. Yes I am serious. You will be asked some questions about your past modelingexperience, where you are from, how old you are, and if they like you they will ask some personal questions as in what are your hobbies, favorite color, etc. The booker will then have you do your runway walk, take new digitals, and film a video of you stating your name, age, height, and then have you strut your stuff down the hallway once more. If they absolutely love you, you will be offered a contract that day, if not you will have to wait a few days or weeks for an answer. Modeling is one big waiting game…the entire industry revolves around the 'hurry up and wait' process of doing things.

The Contract

If you are offered up a contract, congratulations, you have what it takes to be a model and or posses the essential model features. BUT do not sign anything without reading it first, it is imperative that you take the contract home and read it over. This is a detrimental mistake that many models make in the beginning of their career, for they are so eager to start modeling, they do not read or even look at their contract. They simply sign at the dotted line. The agency will push you to sign the contract right at that exact moment, but I urge you to hold on until you read it over and possibly have an attorney look at it. Do not let your dreams and ambition overcome your smarts;contracts are a big deal and you don't want to be trapped in something you aren't happy with. This is your career we are talking about, it s worth the extra time and money spent. There are few different contracts you could be offered to sign. They consist of but aren't limited to, an exclusive contract, a non-exclusive contract, and a mother agency contract.

Exclusive contracts are very serious business that need to be cared for with great respect and care. An exclusive contract means you can only be signed with that one agency in that particular state, so for all aspects of modeling and possibly acting (read your contract) they are in charge. If you are offered to sign an exclusive contract from an agency, good work, that is a great accomplishment and honor for it means the agency loves you and your look. They love you so much that they do not want any other agency or agent to be able to work with you and capitalize on your potential profit in the industry. With this being said, it can be dangerous for your career if it turns out you do not like working with the agency because you are in an exclusive contract. Sure you can always try and break your contract, but it is best when you make decision to stick with it.

Non-exclusive contracts are basically a risk free zone; you are signed with the agency but you are allowed to also sign with other agencies in the same state. Its the best of both worlds! BUT, it also means that the agency is not a hundred percent sure in you and your potential so they do not want to put all of their eggs in your basket. Which is a tad bit disheartening. The best way to look at a non-exclusive contract is took see it as a chance to try out a bunch of different agencies in one area, until you find the perfect fit. Almost like trying on a bunch of different shoes until you find the right pair for you.

The principal of all contracts, the head honcho, the Queen Elizabeth……..the mother agency contract. A mother agency contract is as straight forward as it sounds, whomever the model signs said contract with, is their 'mother' agent. Meaning they raise the model, mold her into who they want her to be, and manage her entire career. So instead of just worrying about being signed to a different agency in each fashion capital, your mother agency finds and places you to all other agencies and contracts around the country and world. As your mother agent, they will receive ten percent of everything you earn for the rest of your contract and or career. Let me explain, if you are signed to an agency in New York City, they will take twenty percent out of every check for them and then another ten percent for your mother agency, so you will loose thirty percent of your earnings to the agencies.

A mother agent can be extremely beneficial to a model's career because they help guide them in the right direction and help ensure make the right choices. But if you are signed with a mother agent who doesn’t know what they are doing in the industry, you are screwed. This is the main struggle with having a mother agent, because they are literally in charge of everything you do in your modeling career. So if you have an unqualified agent/agency, you will be deterred from success.

Many model's mother agencies are in their home town, whether it be in Massachusetts, Oregon, Chicago…. they are from everywhere.

In my opinion its best to start small with an agency in your home town, so you can get your experience first, and not be pressured into falling into the depths of the big city industry life. Starting in a smaller industry allows you to perfect your skill, as in your runway walk, posing, and just give you confidence you need to succeed! I started my career in Boston and I am so happy I did.

Modeling Tips

The best chap-stick to use and always carry on your person is Carmex. Carmex will solve any problem you may be having with cracked lips and even with dry skin around your nose and mouth. Put together a model essentials bag filled with a pair of heels, strapless bra, nude seamless underwear, hair brush, and hair elastics. Always keep it in your car or next to your bed, to ensure you will always be prepared. Never go anywhere without a water bottle and snacks!! More often than not there are no refreshments at shoots and shows, so make sure you have something to keep your energy up!

The most important rule is to never give up and stay true to yourself.For there is only one of you in this industry, but most importantly there is only one of YOU in this world.


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