The Model Checklist: What You Must Have to Succeed

(This post is for both freelance and agency represented models but I'm writing this mainly to address freelance models since they have the challenge of representing themselves.)

Modeling is a business and in order to be successful, you'll have to be responsible for making your career run as smoothly as possible. In my time and experience, I have come to rely on the following items to help me stay as organized as possible (I may update this list from time to time if needed):

Day Planner: Whether you have a fancy PDA or go with the old school hard copy day planner (like me), you will need to have your schedule organized. Be sure to mark down all events related to modeling such as castings, shoots and meetings with photographers, stylists, etc. You'll come to find yourself living by your day planner--having events recorded in this manner will keep you from double booking and also help you plan your agenda with stuff that's not related to modeling. Because I'm super organized and a bit of a nerd, I also have a wall calendar that I record everything on so I'm covered both ways. It also helps to color code each event so that you don't get confused. For example, I circle photoshoots in blue, box meetings in red, and circle castings and go-sees in yellow. If I know I'm going to get paid on the same day as a shoot, I'll box the event in green.

Stack of Printed Headshots: Not only does submitting yourself for modeling work include emailing a digital copy of your headshot but having a hard copy print as well. It is essential that you have a small pile of headshots printed out and ready to go when you are. Never go to a casting or go-see without your headshot--even if they end up not taking it, it is always better to bring one just in case. Be sure the photo reflects how you look now and not years ago. Remember, if you've changed anything drastically like your hairstyle or hair color, retake your headshot. Color is best...black and white isn't really in demand for headshots these days. You don't have to pay a ton of money to get your photos professionally printed. If you have a good photo printer at home you can easily print them out yourself and save a lot of money. Be sure to use photo paper with either matte or semi-gloss--you don't want your headshot to be super shiny. You'll find yourself going through your headshot pile pretty fast if you have a lot of castings scheduled so always be prepared. 8"x10" is ideal.

Stack of Printed Resumes: If your resume is only one page you can simply print it onto the back of your headshot. This is a common practice in the industry. If your resume is longer than one page, print it out separately and staple it to the back of your headshot so that it doesn't get separated when you turn them in to the casting office. Don't worry about putting your resume on fancy stationary or putting your picture on it since it will be with your headshot anyway. Keep the font easy to read and avoid font that is too large or too tiny. Always pair your headshot wth a resume when you go in for a casting or go-see. You can use your regular computer printer and plain computer paper to print your resume out on. Don't forget to update your resume as you book work and only turn in the most recent version. Be sure to put your contact info on your resume as well (email address and phone number).

Portfolio: I'm referring to the actual binder/case that you place your hard copy modeling photos in. Not all castings require a portfolio to be shown but it never hurts to bring it with you, especially since most casting people will want to take a look if they see you have one.

Comp/Zed Card: You'll want to have a good quality comp/zed card both in digital and printed format. Remember to stick to the standard sizes for comp cards (no larger than 5.5" x 8.5") and have a small stack of them printed out and ready to go as well. If you have an agent, they will supply you with your comp cards. Freelance models will have to be responsible for having their comp cards designed and printed.

Business Cards (Optional): I find having a modeling business card super helpful and I would personally and professionally suggest having one--especially if you aren't able to get comp cards done. Business cards are ideal for networking with potential clients and are easier to pass out than comp cards (unless you're at a casting of course). Basically modeling business cards are best for keeping in touch with people you've worked with or if you happen to meet someone outside of a shoot or casting environment that you want to network with. They are easy to design and have printed as well. Always carry your business cards with you, even if you're just out and about running errands--you never know who you will run into that could prove helpful to your modeling career down the line.

Makeup Products: Male or female, you'll need to have the ability to do your own makeup (and hair). This goes for castings and shoots alike. For castings and go-sees you will be responsible for your makeup anyway so be sure you know what you're doing. Women should stick to the basics: foundation, powder, lip color, gloss, mascara and eye shadow. Male models won't need the same makeup as a female model but I would encourage carrying around pressed powder in a compact if your complexion tends to get oily. Shine on your face is never good for castings. Having makeup products of your own for shoots where there is no makeup artist present will also help you look your best on matter the situation.

Email & Cell: These may be obvious but I want to make sure to add it anyway. Your email address should be businesslike and not something out of high school. Preferably having your name as your email address is best. Create a new email account if you have to so that you won't get your modeling emails confused with your other emails. Also be sure to check your spam folder regularly--I can't tell you how many times I've found important emails with details for shoots and events somehow relocated to the spam folder. When it comes to your cell phone, make sure your voicemail intro is also proper and businesslike. Be ready to answer calls from numbers you may not recognize or that are blocked--it may be a dreaded telemarketer but it could also very well be a client hoping to hire you for a modeling gig.

Notepad: I'm referring to the small ones you can easily keep in your purse, pocket or in your car. To be even more organized I like to keep a small notepad handy. I make sure to use it to write down driving directions to and from gigs, as a place to write down contact info for clients, photographers, casting directors and other people for networking, and for jotting down general notes in regards to wardrobe, parking situations and other tidbits of info that I feel I need to keep track of. So far I've filled up 2-3 such notebooks! And I don't throw them away. Many times castings take place in the same areas and so it helps to save all my driving directions that way I save paper and don't have to spend time Googling how to get from point A to point B.






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My Busy Schedule

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted as much as I would like to—with the exception of answering reader questions and adding the poll to my blog—but that’s been because I’ve been so dang busy! Definitely not complaining…I’d rather take a hectic schedule over twiddling my thumbs any day! I was super busy for almost 2 weeks straight with various castings and shoots a while back (not to mention my other businesses and clients) and luckily I had a chance to relax for about a week at my parents’ house. But wouldn’t ya know it: once again, I’ve got another crazy couple of days ahead of me.

Thursday, August 27: Head to Redwood City to do an on-camera interview for the Filipino Channel’s “Adobo Nation,” where I’ll be talking about money saving tips for people that use Craig’s List to find, buy and sell items (I told ya I’m a jack of all trades outside of modeling!).

Friday, August 28: Head to Sacramento to Murphy Productions for a casting for a TV commercial to promote Frog Tape, a special painter’s tape.

Saturday, August 29: Relax…maybe? Probably not…I’ve got art projects to tackle. So much for a little R&R!

Sunday, August 30 (Rescheduled--free day, Yay!): Photoshoot in San Jose for a classic pin-up calendar project. Not sure how the distribution is going to work but I believe they will be shipped and sold to soldiers in Iraq—a percentage of the proceeds will also be donated to a charity to support the troops and vets. It’s for a great cause and everyone involved will also make a commission from each calendar sold. Not bad!

Monday, August 31: Head to Berkeley to do an on-camera narration piece for an online ESL program.

Another project I’m super excited about isn’t slated to go into production until mid-January but I figured why not blog about it before my hectic schedule gets underway? I’ve been working with a film director on a soon-to-be released documentary doing on-camera narration involving a teleprompter and green screen. It’s been a lot of fun and the director is awesome. Well, he contacted me and offered me the position as a TV host for a new travel guide show that will require me to travel for 2 weeks to either Hawaii or South America to talk about the best resorts, beaches, real estate and spotlight the locals—pretty exciting stuff for sure! He is the casting director and won’t have the actual shooting schedule put together for another month but so far mid-January seems to work for the crew involved. He’s already got things underway with producers from Los Angeles so it’ll just be a matter of time and finalizing the details before I have to make travel plans. Needless to say, I can’t wait!

I've also got more posts coming up to highlight recent shoots I've done, including a leg wear shoot for The Sock Boutique and a Microsoft product shoot. Stick around!

Answering a Reader Question #55

Anonymous Wrote:

I have dark skin and it is uneven. I've tried glycolic peels and Retin-A for quite some time now. I am very self conscious about this because everything I do to reverse the problem skin isn't working such as eating healthy, staying out of the sun when possible and wearing sunblock. my question is will my uneven skin be a problem when submitting snap shots to agencies? in addition I don't really have acne just uneven skin light and dark spots on my face and neck. so how clear does ones skin have to be when trying to find an agency. because my skin is holding me back from even submitting because i'm afraid it's not descent enough for an agency. so i just need some advice please:).


Anonymous, I feel your pain, I really do and I am sorry that traditional treatments have not helped your situation. In regards to the state of your skin when it comes to submitting to agencies, your skin does not need to be "perfect" but it does need to be "good" or "healthy." Extensive discoloration that is highly noticeable, especially on the face isn't very desirable to agencies. While there is Photoshop, agencies would prefer a model with skin that needs as little retouching as possible. It's just about time and money on their end--after all, it is a business.

When submitting photos to agencies they definitely should not be touched up, which I know is very scary for you since you feel your complexion currently may not be what they want. Have you thought about attending an open call instead of just sending in your photos via online or snail mail? The reason I suggest this is because the only way you will know if your skin would be an issue for an agency is to hear it from the agency itself. And more than just one...the more agencies you are able to see, the better your odds that you will find one that likes you. Talking to more agencies will also help you compare notes on their feedback to you concerning your skin. As much as you may not want to hear their feedback, I would highly suggest doing this and face the music sooner than later. By sending in your pictures via email or snail mail you won't get a direct answer from an agency--either they'll like you and contact you or you just won't hear from them at all and if your results are the latter, then you'll never know for sure if it was your skin they didn't care for or if it was something else. Do yourself that justice and attend the castings--if they're available--and see what the different agencies say.

As a side note, have you tried using special cover-up? Many models with skin discoloration issues (myself included) and those with the skin condition vitiligo (a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation of the skin, resulting in white patches) have turned to body makeup such as Dermablend and similar cosmetic products to help create the appearance of uniformly colored skin. Such makeup is easy to apply, especially on the face and neck. If you can manage to consult with a professional makeup artist at a makeup counter like Sephora or MAC, they can test different shades on you to hopefully find the right one. If you can find the right shade and learn to apply it, you may be able to pursue modeling without anyone being the wiser. Of course if you wear the makeup to an agency I would recommend still being honest with them about using the product to cover up your discoloration. If the agency likes you enough they may be willing to work around your skin issue, especially if the body makeup successfully evens out your skin tone.

I hope that helps somewhat and I definitely wish you luck in pursuing modeling. Even if an agency doesn't sign you, look into freelance. Always create opportunities for yourself when you can, even if there are others that close such opportunities to you.



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Answering a Reader Question #54

Caroline Wrote:

Hey, My name's Caroline and it's been my dream to become a VS model. I'm only 12 but my measurements are : 33"24"35 and I'm already 5'7". I've been planning to go to an open call at Ford. One problem (besides my age): My parents are a tad protective to say the least, and would probably disinherit me or something if they knew what I wanted to do. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could do to convince them that maybe modeling isn't the worst thing in the world? Thanks so much!

Hi, Caroline, and thanks for your question. Your situation is one that many young, aspiring models are having to deal with these days. It is normal for parents to feel overprotective and chances are they've only heard about the negative side of modeling, which only adds to their concern about having their own child pursue the industry. In your case if you were to get signed to Ford, obviously you wouldn't be considered for VS until you were 18 but in the meantime you would be working on other modeling projects, which would not only build up your career and your portfolio, but it would mean getting a jump start on saving up money for college (all points that will help build your case once you are ready to tell your parents of your modeling plans). At this point in time you may not want to mention your desire to do VS modeling at all--just stick to saying you want to model in general. If you happen to get offered a VS opportunity, you'd be 18 by that time anyway so the decision alone would be yours.

I would suggest checking out these blog posts I did about how to address the issue of modeling with your parents:

The Parents
http://amodelsdiary.blogspot.com/2007/02/parents.html

When You Get No Support for Modeling
http://amodelsdiary.blogspot.com/2007/11/when-you-get-no-support-for-modeling.html

If you'd like more assistance with your situation, feel free to drop me an email at daniadenise@gmail.com.

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