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

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Agency/Model Expectations: What Your Agent Expects from YOU

“Model” Behavior Part 3 - Agency/Model Expectations

What YOUR Agent Expects from YOU
One of the biggest misconceptions in the plus modeling industry today is the belief that once you secure an agent – it’s all “gravy” from there, you don’t have to do anything but sit back and the work will just begin to pour in. Well anyone who has been in this situation learns quickly that this is most certainly NOT what happens, if anything you will have to work even harder once you sign on the dotted line. Many models come to me with preconceived notions of what we are supposed to do for you as “Your Agent” but what you really need to understand is this: There are certain things that are expected from YOU “The Model” when you sign on the dotted line with an agent or agency. And unless you have a clear cut understanding of what those expectations are…your career will quickly begin to feel like you are on a treadmill….Working hard but getting no where. So in an effort to prevent you from being on that treadmill; I put together a list of some of the things that your agent/booker will expect of you as an aspiring model if they decide to bring you on as a client.

Your Agent/Booker Expects:

· For YOU to be groomed – At all times! - I have held and participated in enough model castings to be absolutely horrified at the way some aspiring models choose to show up at castings and open calls. I have watched more women come through my office in ill fitting clothing, hair a mess, with no makeup on and/or dressed more provocatively then you can imagine.

Aspiring models, I have a question for you:

Why on earth would you come to a MODELING agency NOT looking your ABSOLUTE BEST??
And then expect me to cut you a break and sign you anyway??? Agents perk up when they get a chick that comes through their doors well groomed, well spoken and fashion forward (Note: I said fashion forward – NOT trendy). That means that’s less work that THEY have to do and MORE clients they can send you to see. Clients love to see beautiful women walk through their doors, they don’t want to see women whose hard lives show on their faces. It is imperative that you look your absolute best when you go on an audition or a casting. If you don’t wear make up everyday, at the very least keep your “face” (powder, mascara & lip gloss) in your bag at all times, so that when that last minute call for an audition comes, becoming “camera ready” is only a bathroom away.

Your Agent/Booker Expects:

· For YOU to be proactive & enthusiastic about YOUR career – Agents/Bookers LOVE models who are “hungry” and focused about their careers. If you don’t want to fall through the cracks and be forgotten by your agent/booker (and yes, this DOES happen), then you need call or send an email and check in with your agent at MINIMUM once a week, to “see if anything’s happening”. And know that a lot of those times, there won’t be anything happening at the moment but this simple action keeps you fresh in your booker’s mind and it shows that you are taking an interest in your career rather than sitting home waiting for the phone to ring.

Your Agent/Booker Expects:

· For YOU to be prepared to get to work on YOUR career immediately – It really hurts my feelings when a model with a whole lot of potential comes to me and SAYS she’s ready to get started but then blanches when I explain the costs involved with beginning a career as a plus sized model. The overhead is ridiculous and I can honestly say that you should be prepared to spend at LEAST $1500-$2000 dollars just to cover the costs of getting started. The first thing you have to do is “Test” with a “recommended” photographer to start putting your composite card together. Depending on the photographer, the rate can be as low as $500 and as high as $800 (hair & makeup are usually included). This is where most models will try to cut costs – and while it’s kinda “cool” if you have a “hook-up” with a photographer, if he can’t get the shots that we want on you then free or not, the photos are useless to us. We also don’t want the same photographer to shoot your entire book. We recommend certain photographers because we already KNOW they can produce the shots we want. Once YOU are more comfortable in front of the camera and can “deliver” the shot – you might be allowed more leeway with photographers that we may not be familiar with.

We generally will suggest that you hire a stylist ($200-$300) for your shoot to get the look and clothing you need. A stylist can see your body in a different light than you can AND they usually have access to clothing that you wouldn’t be able to get normally. I find that most models are pretty bad at styling themselves and there is nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on a photo shoot and the clothes look bad.

After the photos are done, to get you seen by clients quickly, your photos will need to be immediately uploaded to your agency’s website and that will probably run you another $200 (usually in the form of an annual fee).

Special note to all: There will be little room for you to avoid this particular fee (website) in the future, as I find that most clients prefer to go to a website and check out photos rather than receiving a whole bunch of comp cards in the mail to go through.

And since we are on the subject of composite cards, once your photos are selected, printed and retouched (and yeah, you have to pay for that too), you will need to get a comp card made to take along with you on your castings as well as a portfolio to put your photos in. Composite cards will generally run you about $150 for 100 cards. Agency rates for portfolios with your agency logo on it vary from agency to agency but you WILL have to pay for that as well.

Oh yeah…one more thing……there is NO fee to sign with an reputable agency, if someone asks you for a fee to sign a contract – leave skid marks getting away from them…they are trying to scam you out of your hard earned money.

If I think that you’ve got “It”, of course I am going to want to get you in front of a camera A.S.A.P.! I am not going to be interested in signing you if you can’t get your funds together for another 4-6 months – It will only waste your time and mine. Save up your money and come back and see me when you are fully prepared get started.

Your Agent/Booker Expects:

· For YOU to listen to & follow the advice that you are given and trust that we know what we are doing - Over the last few months, I have gotten more phone calls and emails that begin with the phrase “My agent over at “such and such” agency isn’t getting me any work, could I sign on with you?” Well the first thing I am going to ask you is to see your book and your cards. The problem generally lies in either, your book or your card, more than likely one or both are probably weak. If I sit down put a composite card together and after 3-6 months you aren’t getting any “hits” or requests for your presence off your card/book – then your card/book simply isn’t strong enough and it’s time to shoot new photos. Perhaps it’s your “look” that’s dated and it may be time to update yourself. It annoys me when models argue and/or ignore me and think they’re going to continue sitting on the board with that same old card (and trust me this happens all day long) that’s getting negative or no feedback at all. Unbeknownst to YOU, WE are already getting feedback from clients and they have no problems telling us what they like and don’t like about a particular model. This feedback is generally our motivation for telling you it’s time for you to shoot new pictures. If we advise you NOT to put the photos that are on your card, on our website and in your book on your MySpace/Black Planet pages then by all means, do what we ask. MySpace is notorious for having er…”questionable” folks check out your photos and then either steal them and use them for their own purposes. If someone contacts you regarding booking you and/or viewing your portfolio, send them the link to your agency’s website and let your agent take it from there.

Your Agent/Booker Expects:

· For YOU to know your worth – As a “Runway Diva” myself, I understand the joys of wanting to be in a show and walking the runway. Unfortunately, there is a considerable lack of runway work these days for plus sized models; so our only access to runway work are usually shows that are on the local level. And while these shows can definitely be fun, there comes a time when, as your career grows, there will be certain shows that you should choose to no longer be associated with. The time will come in every model’s life when you must ask yourself the “hard” questions:

Ø How will MY doing YOUR show benefit me?
Ø Am I being paid (be it cash, clothing or photos)?
Ø If my "pay' is in photo form - are these photographs that I can actually use in my book?
Ø Will there be someone influential in the audience who can further my career/dreams?
Ø Will my being in your show help or hurt my image?

If you ask yourselves the questions and are not satisfied with the answers, then you probably should not be doing that particular show/event. When YOU don’t know YOUR worth, it only makes our jobs harder. How can we ask/expect clients to pay market rates for you and you are out doing every cheesy $50 show that you are asked to be a part of. The top girls in this business won’t even be SEEN at poorly put together productions – they already know it’s all about protecting their “image”.

In the end the plus modeling business is the same as any other business – It is exactly that – A BUSINESS and you get out of it what you put into it. If you are expecting me to invest my time and resources in YOUR career then I will expect nothing less that the EXACT SAME commitment from you.

(reprinted from Apr 08 issue Plus Model Magazine)