How To Become a Model in LA
Where Do You Start?
Sergio Garcia has been working with models for over a decade. From discovering models and getting them placed (signed), to top-tier agencies like IMG, Wilhelmina, Kim Dawson, and DNA sending their new and seasoned models to update their portfolios with him.
Below you will find 8 solid tips of information you should read if you plan to break into the industry along with a few cautionary notes.
1: Move To Where The Market Is
If you live in a small town 50, 75, 100+ miles away from the main market (Los Angeles), best bet will be to move closer into the city. Why? Agents want you close by as sometimes castings happen last minute and the client may want to see you in an hour. It does not make sense for an agency to sign you if you can not be ready in a moments notice.
2: Locate The Reputable Agencies
Do your own due-diligence to identify these agencies. How good is their board (selection) of models they have signed? Does their website work (you’d be surprised)? Were you able to find reviews on the agency online? There are a lot of agencies that prey on the hopes and dreams of individuals.
3: Fit The Requirements
Women should be between 5’8 – 5’11 and ages 13 – 25 and Men should be between 5’11 – 6’2 and ages 15 – 28. Note this varies slightly be agency. If you find you fit these requirements, a lot of agencies have open calls on certain days and times of the week were one can go and be seen by the agents. Normally, these should be free. Alternatively, some agencies also have “model searches” you may enter. Again, these are normally free. If you find that the agency is charging for either of these, we recommend to proceed with caution.
Please note that currently, the market for individuals underneath the height required, is limited if at all available.
4: What To Expect At “Open Calls”.
Usually in open calls, they will measure you, and want to get to “know you”, so make sure to show off your personality! There is nothing less exciting than working with a boring model that doesn’t have a fun and exciting energy about them.
The agents will have you show them your “walk” (walk from point A to point B) and then they will take polaroids or snap shots of you for reference. The snap shots consist of a full length shot, a close up shot, a profile shot and maybe a bikini or brief shot, depending on male or female.
4a: Do’s and Dont’s For Open Calls
WOMEN: It is recommended that you wear a fitted pair of jeans (dark blue or black), a simple tank top or spaghetti strap (black), show up with absolutely NO make up and hair should be up in a simple pony tail. Pretty much only moisturize your skin and apply lip balm.
MEN: It is recommended that you wear a fitted pair of jeans (dark blue or black), a simple crew neck (black) and arrive with a clean shaven face or lightly trimmed. A moisturized face and lip balm is ideal.
This is not the time to cake your face with make up and look like a glamazon. Agencies want to see YOU. That means your natural, and maybe somewhat pimply face. They want to see the blank canvas that they have to work with. Please listen to this, ladies.
5: Do I Need Professional Photos Beforehand?
No, and Yes. Technically, you do not need to show up with any professional photos in hand. Assuming you have never explored this field before, they will know that you are brand new and don’t have much material. However, it does not hurt to have some professional photos taken beforehand, by a photographer who is familiar with what agencies are looking for in a modeling portfolio (hint, hint).
This is not the time to show up with photos your grandma took of you opening up christmas presents, photos of you and your bestie out on a Friday night, or worst, pageant photos. If you plan to have photos taken beforehand, there are specific “looks” that agencies are wanting in a models book, so best to hire a photographer who is familiar with them.
Remember that if you do end up getting signed with an agency, they will require that you get photos done by one of their preferred photographers (see below), and it will cost you money upfront. Typically ranging from $300 – $1000 depending on the level of photographer, this will cover the required looks, and typically include a hair and make up artist and wardrobe stylist.
6: What is an Agency Preferred Photographer?
It is a photographer that the modeling agency has met with in person, and can confirm that they aren’t a creep or shady person who just wants to get newbies in front of their camera for who-knows-what. If you choose to go outside of their recommended list, especially with someone who doesn’t know the looks the agency is asking for, you run the risk of the agency not being able to use any of the images, therefor you still having to use one of their recommended photographers. Which would result in you having to pay twice. Best to go with who they recommend.
7: Social Media (very, very, very important.)
Nowadays, it’s a requirement to be on social media. Models are no longer just getting booked off of their looks, but also, off of how many followers they have on their social media channels. Why? Lets think about it from a marketing perspective …
Is the client going to want to book the model with no (or very little / inactive) social media presence or the model with thousands of followers who the client sees (and trust me, they do their research beforehand when deciding on the model they want to book) constantly posting on instagram, sharing behind the scenes of what they are doing and engaging with their followers? If I am a small, local hand bag company out of Santa Clarita, of course I want to book the model with thousands of followers, even if their rate is a little more, because I know that during and after the shoot, the model is more than likely going to post images and videos and tag me, the client, therefor getting my brand out to thousands of potential new customers. It’s obvious,
We have ran into individuals who don’t want to be on social media for numerous reasons (privacy) and all we can say is, this will hinder you in the long run. It’s all about being in front of as many eyes as possible now. Successful models show off their personalities on social media (see how important showing off your personality is?). Their are models who love to bake, and what do they do? Show their followers how to bake! They show off goofy videos in the kitchen, yummy cookies they have made, and how-to recipes to their favorite snacks.
It’s all about standing out and having your own voice, remember that.
8: A ” No” Today, Does Not Mean A “No” Tomorrow.
Listen, all agencies have a limit on the type of looks they have on their talent roster. There are only so many jobs for the blonde, blue-eyed girl out there. If you meet all the requirements and the agency says no, they may already have too many other models who resemble your look. Why would they take on someone else when it’s already hard enough to get their current models booked?
Instead of getting down, try your luck at another agency or most agencies suggest you re-apply in 3-6 months incase they had to drop or let someone go from their board.
Caution! What To Look Out For.
1: Do I Have To Pay Money Upfront?
No. If an agency is asking you to pay money upfront for classes or “schools”, more than likely it’s a scam. Remember how I mentioned earlier that some agencies prey on the hopes and dreams of individuals? This is the case. These type of companies know you are too short, too tall, too round or too thin to make it in this industry. But who doesn’t like being told they are beautiful or better yet, beautiful enough to model.
They sell you on what you want to hear, while knowing that you don’t fit the industry standards. Most of the these companies don’t even have clients. The only way they make their money is by feeding off of individuals hopes of becoming models. Stay away, friends.
2: Not Sure About The Agency?
Usually we recommend that you google the agency / company name and then type in “scam” after it. If it is not legit, you will see plenty of scam articles pop up on Google. The best thing to do is trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you are new. If your gut feeling is bad, then trust it, and just say no.
We are here to help. If you have any questions pertaining to these topics, or think we need to cover other topics of the industry, feel free to email us or connect via instagram @isergiogarcia with questions, or comments.
While the industry may seem confusing, complicated or even threatening at times, it is a beautiful industry filled with creative artist who in reality only want to create and have fun. Most of the horror stories you here happen because the individual did not do their own due diligence. So in short, trust your gut!