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Modeling Tip: How to Get Into Commercials

To be in commercials, you don’t necessarily have to be model “perfect.” However, you will see a lot of models at commercial castings.

Supermodel Super Bowl Commercial

This is a cross-over zone between modeling and acting. Many modeling agencies work with commercial agencies, who will rep their models and send them out for commercials (assuming they can read a script, memorize lines when needed—basically have some rudimentary acting skills, but not necessarily formal training).

Dakota Fanning’s Big Break: A National Tide Commercial

J, my 9-year-old, is with Shirley Grant, a management company—which is similar to an agency (see Generation), but a manager gets castings for print and commercial jobs through various agencies (those agencies get a cut) as well as acting auditions. When I was modeling  with New York Models, I was also represented by Abrams Artists for commercials (and other gigs like pushing a gigantic fan onto the stage on Letterman and blowing feathers all over some random guy brought in from the street). J’s focus is acting, so we often skip the print castings (for standard modeling jobs, like catalogs and magazines), but we do try to go to commercial auditions. Commercials can pay well, especially the nationals, and they are good acting practice. Often J has to memorize “sides” (lines)—sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a page or two and several versions. Generally we get a day’s notice for castings, so he’ll have one evening and a train ride to prepare. Luckily he’s a quick study. You don’t know until you are in the audition room which scene or part of a scene you’ll be asked to act out. The only thing you can be fairly sure of is that you will be asked to “slate,” which means saying your name and agency at the beginning of a video casting (and sometimes your age).

Young Ben Affleck in a Burger King Commercial


Last week, J had a casting for a toaster strudel commercial, which involved attempting to master a German accent for the role of “Hans Strudel.” J can roll his “r’s” (“Das Strrrrrrruudel”) a lot better than I can, but probably not as good as the native German speaker at the casting. Perhaps that kid will advise the writers that it’s not “das” strudel; it’s der strudel. (Thanks German neighbor and accent coach ;)

You just never know what you may learn preparing for an audition. What I can tell you is that it’s rare to have an open casting for a commercial. In other words, your kid/you need an agent. Often agents are given set times by the casting agent and can only send a select number of people (those who are given times often are requested by the casting agent based on talent headshots and skills, if applicable).

I also can tell you that at a national Kraft Mac n Cheese commercial casting, for example, you will find a waiting room chock full of kids with memorable faces (which does not necessarily equal conventionally cute). See this blog post on Kid Modeling for the other qualities your little actor will need to succeed!

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