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Modeling Tip: The Key to a Child Model or Actor’s Success

The key to a child model/actor’s success is a patient, devoted, financially solvent stage parent! People are always asking me about getting their kids into modeling. It looks easy: e-mail some pics of your cutest kid ever to a modeling agency and wait for Gap to call regarding shoot times for their next campaign.

Gap Kids

Wake-up call: that is not at all how it works. First, you have to figure out which agencies are legit and which just want your money for classes or fees (read 5 Warning Signs You Are Being Scammed by a Modeling Agency). Then you have to find out if the agency wants to rep your cutest kid ever, whose photos may arrive along with 100 other submissions of cutest kids ever on any given day. Should you “luck out” and land your tyke with an agent, then the real work begins (which is why I used the quotes; you may soon be wishing cutest kid ever got dumped in the trash rather than signed on).

Few clients book from photos alone. They will want to see your kid live, often along with 250 other kids from a 50-mile radius. Some clients will have callbacks, so you may have to schlep your kid two days in a row to photo studios in remote locales (try Union City, NJ, from CT, for example). Usually all for nothing. The odds just aren’t in your favor, no matter how CUTE, with a capital C, your kid is.

Children's Place Models

And all these castings cost money. It’s not that clients ask you to pay anything (turn and run if that happens!), but believe me, you pay. Here’s an example:

On Monday, both my 10-year-old son and my 3-year-old daughter had castings (for how we “lucked out” and landed with an agency: read More on Kid Modeling) in New York. We paid $25 for train tickets to New York, $16 for a taxi from Grand Central through midtown traffic to 31st and 11th Ave (we usually take the subway but there is no subway that goes close enough to that locale to not leave us all swimming in sweat on a 94-degree day), $17 for a taxi back, and $50 for a parking ticket (I know, this is a recurring theme; read Toys R Us Booking Equals Mega Bucks?) cuz there was a traffic jam on the way to the train station so I had to park in a 2-hour spot. I figured I could have my sitter move it, until I realized the second set of keys was locked inside it. Oops.

We have heard nothing from those castings, which is usually the drill. Especially when the pre-casting prep for the 3-year-old (“big laugh when they say ‘cheese!’”) did not work. She gave ‘em a half-hearted smile that would be unlikely to sell any Children’s Place clothes, even though she is the cutest kid ever. There are no do-over’s at castings. They shuffle the wee ones through the line like parts on a conveyor belt, shoot a Polaroid (time allotment: 10 seconds per kid), and out you go.

Still think it sounds like fun? OK, you may have what it takes then. Hopefully your kid does too. Keep reading. I promise to write more soon about the rewarding aspects of stagemomhood.

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