Location: You've Gotta be Where the Action Is!
So let me say this: if you are interested in pursuing modeling and/or acting and are wondering who is the best of the best, the only way to find out is to do research and begin at the local level. Let me explain what I mean by this...
When it comes to agencies (modeling, acting, etc), it is all about location. In general, prospective talent should be located fairly close to the agency's location--at most a 2 hour's drive away. Castings and auditions are often very last minute and being local solves any issues that may arise in terms of being too far away. In your search for an agency you should start by looking within your city and state. We all know that when it comes to modeling agencies there are some that ultimately fall under the "best ever" category, such as Elite, Ford, Wilhelmina, etc. However, each modeling market has its own local "best" category that is applicable to each state. It isn't helpful to you to look for the best agencies that are located nowhere near where you live, unless you're going to relocate and in most cases I'm sure you don't have the luxury of just picking up and moving across the country. So why go through the trouble of considering agencies that you have to take an airplane to get to? It just doesn't make sense.
Getting signed to a local agency that does very well and gets its models work is a great way to start your modeling career, not to mention faster. For example, if you live in Texas and you've got what it takes, you'll get signed to a top agency in Texas a lot faster than if you sent your pictures over to Elite in New York. The competition is fierce and you can bet that agencies will want to deal with local models they have access to than someone they couldn't call on short notice. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but I'm talking about the bigger picture here.
So many people make the process of finding an agency more difficult than it needs to be because they are casting too wide of a net. Start at the local level and find out who is considered the best in your city and/or state and use that as your starting point. I guarantee it will simplify things and make the whole process of getting into the industry that much easier for you. It doesn't make sense to ask around for the best agencies--we all know who the big players are but unless you live near those agencies or plan on moving there, pursuing them isn't very realistic when you're just starting out. Remember, it takes baby steps.