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Top Ten Tips for Aspiring Models

These savvy modeling friends of mine each spent 10 to 15 years on the international modeling circuit. Their advice is invaluable to anyone considering modeling (or the moms of aspiring models, who need to know what wisdom to impart before sending their precious daughters—or sons—off into the wild world of fashion!)

From Ricky Haas:


2. Don’t let an “agent” tell you you need surgery. If you need some kind of surgery, you shouldn’t be modeling! I was told at age 18 by my first booker that I should “consider an eye lift.” My left eyelid is lower then my right and sometimes in pictures you can see it, BUT, PLEASE did I, at 18, need an eye lift…aaaaaahhhhh NO!

(Editor’s note: Ricky and I modeled, lived, and traveled together for years and I never noticed a flawed eyelid! Most faces are asymmetrical. Are Heidi Klum’s eyes identical? No. Is she gorgeous and successful? Yes!)

3. Do not get involved with “seedy” rich men who like to hang around models. They will try to buy you meals and drinks but there is a reason why they are spending their money on you! Ladies…they want you in the sack, end of story. You might be starving in Paris but the meals are not worth it. I did NOT learn the hard way but saw it all the time. This kind of thing occurs in cities like Paris and Milan A LOT!

Ricky Haas and Jill Johnson in Zurich

Ricky and Jill borrowing a Porsche from an older rich man (OK, once in a while you meet a generous gentleman who will loan you things with no strings attached!)

4. Make friends with the right model crowd. Be smart. You don’t do drugs…don’t start hanging out with models who do. You don’t starve yourself or vomit after meals…don’t hang out with those who do. I was the luckiest girl in the world; I found a group of ladies that had great morals, self pride, and were just downright FUN to be with and that is who I stuck with traveling the world. They are, 20 years later, my dearest friends.

5. Don’t take the modeling world too seriously. It is a short-term business—out with the old, in with the new! Make the money you can, be as successful as you can be. Take care of yourself (go to the gym, eat right, take care of your skin, don’t party too much [Editor's Note: If anyone thinks they saw Ricky and me in those bier gartens in Munich, those were two girls who looked like us; we were at home with cucumbers on our eyelids]). This industry can be yours as long as you want it to be (look at Audi Martel, for example) or it can be a short-term business to branch you into something else. It’s a wonderful way to make great money to buy your first house, car, travel the world and see the great sites. Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy and take it for what it is worth. It won’t last forever.


From Carter Gigandet:

1. Make sure you are with a legit agency that actually has paid working models, not one that makes money through seminars, workshops, etc.
2. Be willing to change your look, cut your hair, etc.

Model Carter Gigandet

Model Carter Gigandet

Five years later, with a short hairdo, Carter found more work and her future husband!

From Sophie Patitz:

1. If you haven’t made enough money to support yourself by the end of year one, then go to college and get a real job.

Sophie Patitz for Clairol

Sophie Patitz making some $$$ with a Clairol campaign

Two More From Me:

1. With digital cameras, there’s no excuse, when you’re agency hunting, for submitting anything less than the very best photos you can take. Natural outdoor light is usually best, and it’s most flattering early in the morning or before sunset. Have someone shoot 100 pictures of you, if that’s what it takes. Do a headshot (no sunglasses on, no branches growing out of your head, no eyesores in the background like garbage cans, cars, etc.!) with very minimal makeup (you can wear some but just make it look like you aren’t wearing any). And do a full-length wearing something that shows your figure (but not anything risque!).

2. Eventually you will have to spend money to make money. You’ll need professional photos, which you’ll get by “testing” with photographers (a “test” is a shoot that is specifically for you to build your book; it’s not a job. If the photographer is building his book too, a test may be free, but the best test photographers usually charge and often you get what you pay for. Wait until you have an agency—they’ll set up tests for you. If you pay for photos to help get you an agency just be aware that your plan may not work and then you won’t recoup the money spent. That being said, I met more than a few bookers and scouts who did not have an eye for seeing how a girl with amateur photos might look when shot by a professional (that girl was me. I was rejected by all the New York agents at 17, and then had no problem getting an agency there 7 years later when my age made me less desirable but I had a book of photos and tear sheets from Europe).

Read everything under “Modeling” in “Articles” on my site and you will be well prepared to venture into this exciting career!

Send your questions to  dearjill@modelingmentor.com or post them on my Facebook Page

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