Editions by Frederick News

What are the most important ingredients for success in modeling or acting?

Certainly the first thing that comes to mind is having the right look. There is not doubt that there is some importance in that, but certainly there are a million "good looking people" out there and not all of them can make it big as a model or an actor. So, then, what could possibly be more important than looks???

Article By: Jeff Curley (Austin Models & Talent Agency)

Certainly the first thing that comes to mind is having the right look. There is not doubt that there is some importance in that, but certainly there are a million "good looking people" out there and not all of them can make it big as a model or an actor. So, then, what could possibly be more important than looks???

Skills - This come from natural abilities, self-confidence, experience and training;
Professionalism - Attitude and the ability to communicate effectively;
Marketing - Getting yourself out there to be seen and heard;
Ability to Accept Rejection - Understanding the relationship of your own type vs. that which is required.
If all these things are in place above, then finally as a last booster toward success comes looks. Forgetting about whether or not you have the "right look," which as an Agent is the LAST thing I look for in new talent, let's discuss each of the above four items individually in this article:

SKILLS
Models generally do not need to attend "modeling school." While there are likely some out there that have good intentions, some modeling schools are just simply scams (see this editorial on actor and modeling agency scams CLICK HERE). Others are essentially "finishing schools" for young ladies - similar to the old days where you would send your daughter off to learn social skills and grace. Some modeling schools promise that you'll "walk the runway" after completing their classes... and then they put on some local show at their local malls where clothing stores get to use you for free to help sell their product. If you are willing to pay the class fee, they will teach you to walk runway even if you are 4'1" tall grown adult who couldn't even get a runway job on another planet! Models that are not tall enough to do true professional runway work are trained for a fee and then used a few times to fullfill the promise of "walking the runway," and then the next crop of students is fed the same routine. Some modeling schools encourage you to shoot with "their photographer," who charges outrageous rates for photos of you standing infront of a wall... Some modeling schools encourage you to attend "conventions," which often are considered to be unproductive and expensive ventures. Some modeling schools promote anyone who is willing to pay tuition and while it can be fun, and you may learn things, your money would be better invested elsewhere. Many agencies, especially larger agencies that specialize in models, will ask you to remove all references of model school training from your credits or resume anyways.

Modeling schools aside... models learn to model by actually modeling. Test shoot (or "TFP") with commercial photographers. Avoid shooting with "glamour" shooters who are really only shooting to see how much skin they can see. Attend local shoot events. Practice at home infront of a mirror and remember that it's not just how you move or the position of your body, but that the expression on your face is important also. You learn by doing. Good models are models who pose natural - not those whom someone has taught certain looks or poses to. Watch "Zoolander," the movie, as a comical viewpoint on the male modeling industry.

Actors, on the other hand, require training. Training for actors never ends - some of the biggest stars in the business train on a regular basis with acting coaches and at workshops. This helps strengthen techniques and keep them tuned. If you're a student still in school, take Drama or Theatre classes. Volunteer for local community theatre plays. Seek out recognized acting coaches who, when you put their name on your resume, will provide some validity to your background.

PROFESSIONALISM
Act professional all the time. Use your real name (or stage name) on your resume and for your email. No "[email protected]" or "[email protected]," please! If you are under 18, it is best to have your parents do the correspondence for you. Even where they do not, you should involve your parents and allow them to read or cc: them on your emails with potential jobs, photographers, etc. When you correspond in writing, use a spell checker and try to use proper grammar. Show that you are smart and nobody will try to take advantage of you. Keep conversations in email, by phone, or online chat programs focused on the topic. Don't discuss personal issues (unless the person you are discussing with is already a friend). Photographers do not need to know about your favorite colors, what you are wearing, or if you are dating someone. Modeling and acting are a business. Behave as if you are doing business, not chatting with your best friends.

Arrive for jobs or auditions ON TIME. Do not come an hour early. Do not show up late. If you are delayed, call and inform them. If you are going to a photo shoot arranged online, take someone with you. IF your AGENT sends you on a professional job, do not take anyone along. You do not take friends with you to work on real jobs, so why take them to modeling or acting gig's? This, of course, assuming you are sent for professional assignments. Shooting with TFP photographers, you should always bring someone along. Children, defined as anyone under the age of 18, should always bring a parent or legal guardian. Your friend's parent is NOT your legal guardian.

MARKETING
As you know by all other forms of media (movies, television, celebrities, books, etc.), how well something is made popular is often based upon the hype and publicity that it receives. So too, in some ways, is the success of an up-and-coming model or actor. Promoting and marketing yourself is vital to your success as nobody will even know you exist unless you keep your face and name constantly out there. Proper marketing, of course, plays into this as well. Unless you are an "adult" performer, of course, you don't want to be seen on adult oriented websites. Many of the "free portfolio hosting sites" are geared more toward the adult and Internet community and very much frowned upon by professionals in the mainstream industry. Several sites online are considered to be the "big" ones for listing as a model... and yet, in the real industry they are actually the least respected of the sites. One Talent Source, and several other locations, maintain a professionalism by keeping adult style material off their sites... which means that professional in the real modeling and entertainment industry are more apt to use the site for their discovery and casting needs. A good way to select a professional site to list on is to look at the list of options you, as a model or talent, are offered to check off as types of work you will accept. If nude and adult are included, you can assume the site is more a hunting ground for the adult industry and the guys who use camera's to meet girls. Those listing sites may seem harmless and you may assert that YOU have not checked off the other types of work as something you have interest in, however, it does need to be known that the actual mainstream industry isn't going to visit a site where when they click on the URL the first thing that pops up are provocative photos of people listed there. Play it safe and stick to legitimate listing locations and leave the Internet adult community to operate separtely from the fashion, commercial, and advertising model industry.

Set up a profile on sites like One Talent Source and keep it updated and accurate. Let people know, using the forums, when you do something big or special... or when your photos update drastically. Build a hype up about yourself so that your face and name are always in the public eye. You never know who is out there watching. While it's true that a good portion of the Internet is just guys who own digital cameras, there really are some professionals out here who do take advantage of the Net in their business and talent scouting needs.

Build your own website as you become more popular. Why not? Big stars have fan sites, why not you? Just make sure, of course, that you keep the site professional and mainstream in content and attitude. The Net really does not need more "pay" sites where guys can download sexy pictures. Add to your site photo portfolios, links to other locations you are featured, bio's and resume, news and events listings, and any multimedia you may have that can be digitized (video clips, music, voice over sound, etc.).

Use the word "glamour" sparingly!!! In the real world, glamour is a style of photography made famous originally in the 1950's Hollywood portrature. Online, guys with cameras use "glamour" as another sugar coat to mean nude photography. The real definition in the real world of this word is not the same as it is online, so use caution when you are online and you say you will do "glamour modeling" because photographers on the Net assume that means adult work. Now, on the other hand, if you are in a professional setting with casting directors, editors, and ad agencies present... then the word reverts back to it's real meaning.

Obtain an agent that won't lose you in their crowd, file you in a box, or hang you on a wall in some office and then forget that you exist. Hire an agent who will work for you with your needs and your future and goals specifically in mind. Your agent is more than just a source for jobs... they are a guide and a protector. If your agent seeks only to sell you photo shoots or classes, find one who cares more about you than in making money. Make sure your agent is legitimate (licensed, where required), bonded (where required - though a good idea even where not required also!), and spend time learning about how they treat their people so that you will know whether or not you can trust them with your career.

I received an email recently from a model who asked me, "Do I really need an agent to be a model or an actress?" The answer to that is very easy. Pretend you are a client seeking to hire a model for your print ad or catalog, or that you are a film producer or casting professional seeking actors for your commercial or your movie. Where do you find talent? Do you go spend hours and hours surfing through the Internet looking for people in your area who may or may not be serious about their career? Do you put ads on forums and websites and wade through the people sending photos from their cell phone or webcams? Or, do you contact an agency that has an inventory of talent that is skilled, trained, tried and true? Agents are vital for an actor or a model to work beyond the small free student films, local mall promotions, and "deferred pay" productions.

Now that I have made statements making it sound like having an agent is the only way you will find work, let me also state that many models and actors find more work on their own, even when they do have agents. The difference often is, however, that while you can be off finding small scale jobs for yourself that don't pay, or that pay small amounts, your agency is going to be your source for the larger and higher paying jobs. You should ALWAYS be seeking work on your own and never sit back and wait for your agent to do that for you only. A successful model or actor uses all tools and connections to make themselves success.

ABILITY TO ACCEPT REJECTION
The number one largest cause of a high drop-out rate among aspiring models and actors is due directly to the inability to accept rejection. You aren't going to land every job you go out for and you are not going to find job opportunities every day. Dry spells are normal, so use that time to train, to market yourself, to test shoot, or to focus on other career goals. Always have a backup plan and don't think that just because you dream of being a model or an actor that you will support yourself throughout life doing so. Put school and family first, then modeling/acting second. Give all these things, however, the best amount of effort and attention as you can.

I always like to say, "It takes 100 auditions to land one." That's an exageration, but a good way to look at things. Don't set expectations too high, but strive to land every role or job as you would with your best foot forward. After an audition, go home and forget about it. Consider sending a "Thank you" email or postcard (preferred), regardless of whether you get the job or not. Maintain a mailing and contact list with every contact that you make and use these in your future marketing efforts. Just because you audition for a role and don't land it doesn't mean that same person might not need you for something else in the future. You can go read for an acting part and totally blow the casting folks away, and still not get the part because you were not the look or feel that they were after... even though your acting skills may surpass those of the person who ultimately does land the role.

Many aspiring models get discouraged and quit early due to the Internet. Online, the majority of "modeling work" is adult in nature. Much of it is sugar coated with words such as, "figure modeling," or "artistic modeling." You know how to make a nude photo "art" by Internet definition, don't you? Convert it to black and white!!! The Internet stereotypes modeling online due to the massive amount of guys who have discovered that the camera is a great way to undress girls. While there does exist photography in those categories that is very professional and artistic in nature, it's often difficult to sift it out from the rest and so it hardly has much meaning. Avoid listing on portfolio sites that cater to nude images, and avoid online forums that are primarily glamour shooters. This will only draw you down and before you know it, you will have been there, done that, and nobody will want to work professionally with you any more.

Strive always to meet goals that you have set, just as if you were designing a business. Consider investing in your marketing (headshots, comp cards, acting training, etc.), and outline your career objectives of where you want to be a month from now, then a year from now, and then 5 and 10 years down the line. Measure yourself against these objectives to see if you are reaching your goals. Adjust how you market, who represents you (agents), and what other tools you employ based upon your successes in meeting those objectives in the time frames that you have set for them.