The Runway Diva Says. . . Is an online advice column for aspiring models. As a 20 year veteran of the fashion industry as a plus sized model, I have found in my travels that most aspiring models, no matter their size, don't have a clue of the tools needed to become a successful model. Hopefully, I can help make their journey a little easier. Please Email me your questions to

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Model" Behavior

As a veteran plus sized model with many years both behind and in front of the camera under my belt, I am shocked at the alarming trend of “Models Behaving Badly” amongst the growing number of aspiring plus sized models. I decided to pen this particular article after a dinner conversation among several industry notables turned to the subject of photo shoots and the behavior of the models. As veterans to the business we know there are rules spoken and unspoken as well as etiquette seen and unseen in the business of plus sized fashion. With it being a new year and all, I figured this would be a great time to start reviewing some them for those of you who are either already in or thinking of entering the plus model industry.

Punctuality – As a casting producer I have heard and seen MANY a horror story about models who show up hours late for castings, bookings and/or shows and many without any sort of excuse at all. Be warned, this is the kiss of death for ANY model whether you’re a newbie or a pro. Why? Because TIME IS MONEY, (even when YOU are not being paid). Producers spend LOTS of money to book studio time for castings. Clients spend LOTS of money for photographers for their campaigns. Photographers spend LOTS of money to rent space and hire a crew for a shoot. Agents spend LOTS of time and energy selling you to clients hoping to receive a return on their investment (YOU). And so on and so on…..Get the point? When a model shows up on the set late, leaves early or (Gasp!) doesn’t show up at all…EVERYONE pays for it – including you. Bad news spreads like wildfire in fashion circles and clients will be reluctant to hire you if you build a reputation for being unreliable.

 Be On Time!! Plan your route ahead of time if you know you have to travel. It’s better to be a few minutes early than late. A late model is a non-working model.

Open and Closed Sets – It is not uncommon to be a little nervous on the set of a photo shoot, particularly if it’s your first one and your nerves are a little unsteady. I don’t really care for the idea of bringing someone other than your agent or manager on set with you unless you are underage and parental presence is required. If you absolutely positively MUST have someone with you, please have the common courtesy to clear it in advance with either your Set Producers and/or photographer and then have your guest bring a good book to read. I STRONGLY recommend that you do NOT bring your husband/boyfriend/partner/significant other with you. Personal emotions can (and usually will) run high during photo sessions and that sort of energy can destroy the chemistry between the photographer & the model and ruin the entire shoot.

 Leave the personal bodyguard at home. His or her presence and/or opinions are not required on the set.

Questioning the Staff & Crew – This comes from a story of a model who came on to the set of a photo shoot with not a clue about what was involved in her job, from the hours she was booked to the rate of pay she was to receive. Not knowing who was in charge, she took it upon herself to ask anyone on set that she could find (Photographers, MUA’s, hairstylists, photographer assistants etc…everyone EXCEPT the producer) a million questions. This is another “no-no”. Not only does this make you look like a rank amateur who doesn’t know how to “handle her business” but it makes your agent look bad as well. These are all things that your agent should have briefed you with before you arrived on set or questions that YOU should have asked BEFORE you finalized the booking. At any rate, the only person you should be basing these questions to is the person who booked you for the gig. No one else on set knows the answers…it’s not their business to know your business– it’s YOURS.

 Talk to your agent/booker – know ALL the facts about the gig BEFORE you arrive at work.

Discussing Rates – Now I don’t know where this particular trend started but as long as I have been a working model, it has ALWAYS been in poor taste to discuss pay rates on (or off ) the set. There are many reasons that a model’s rate can (and will) vary. It can be a simple as the amount of experience that a model has versus a newbie or it may be that one model can be relied upon to “deliver” the shot quicker than another….the point is that it all depends upon the client and his or her particular tastes and budgets. It is foolish to assume that you would make the same rate as someone who may have more experience than you. Most models will clam up immediately if you mention the subject of rates and conversations like these can breed animosity between models and it makes everyone on the set uncomfortable. Models do talk and inevitably SOMEONE will blab about it and it WILL get back to the client.

 Discussing pay always makes people uncomfortable - Clients HATE it when models discuss rates and I guarantee you that if you do this – YOU WILL NEVER WORK FOR THAT CLIENT AGAIN. Make sure that YOU are getting the amount that you agreed on before you arrive and then don’t bring it up again.

Gossiping - We all know that most people in general can’t resist a juicy piece of gossip. So needless to say when you have to sit for 1 to 2 hours in a chair getting your hair and makeup done, you are pretty much held hostage by whoever is working on you. Or you could be backstage in group waiting for a show to begin. No matter the situation, more often than not someone will start talking, and for a model that’s new to the business, enthusiasm can take over and next thing you know you are just telling all of your business to a roomful of strangers. Newsflash! As big as the fashion industry is, it really is quite small; EVERYONE knows someone who knows someone else. And since people DO talk, a secret is never really a secret and you really don’t want your name to start tasting good in someone else’s mouth. Keep your personal dalliances, sexual preferences and off set behavior to yourself if you don’t want to be the topic of conversation.

 MYOB!!! Mind Your Own Business, be polite, bring a book or an IPod, relax and chill quietly until it’s time for you to go work!

Remember that a working model is the model who can get in, get the job done quickly and get out without incident.

Live Your Dreams!

**Reprinted from February 2008 issue of Plus Model Magazine**


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