As you watch Tyra Banks wave her magic wand each week, you may ask yourself, but how could I become a model? So, we turned to a pro for some advice to pass along to all of you aspiring America's Next Top Model contestants.
Kimberly Perplies is an agent/scout on the Women and New Faces Board of L.A. Models. “My favorite part of the job is scouting for new largest international modeling agency on the west coast and one of the most reputable faces and developing them,” she says. “I've been working at the agency for about four years and can truly say that I work with, and have learned from, the best. We are the in the world.”
Read on for answers to some of your pressing questions about modeling — whether you need to be a certain height, have professional photos, etc. — and for helpful pointers for breaking into the business.
Do I have to be a certain height/weight/age?
To come into an open call and be seen we require girls be age 24 or under and at least 5'8”. We require men to be at least age 15 and at least 5'11”. There is no weight requirement to be seen. It's all about being in proportion, so weights can differ. I have found a few great plus-size girls from our open calls too, so don't think that just because you are not rail thin, the door is closed to you. Now, does this mean that all our models are 24 or under and at least 5'8”? No, there are exceptions to everything. It does mean, however, that the odds are against you, especially when it comes to height. We have girls that are short, they know they have to work much harder to make themselves appear taller and sell themselves to clients.
What if I have a scar?
I suppose it just depends on where the scar is and how hard it would be to cover up with makeup or to Photoshop out. We had a girl who had laser hair removal on her legs and was scarred permanently. She was very self-conscious about it, but now she covers it with a special makeup and, shazam, she's done. She still books like crazy.
How do I find an agent?
Physically come into an open call if you meet the requirements of the agency. If you don't meet the requirements or you don't live near an agency, email or mail your pictures in.
Do I need to have professional photos?
Absolutely not. In fact, we prefer non-professional photos! Anyone can cake on a few inches of makeup, hire a photographer who knows clever angles, retouch to the moon, and look halfway decent. If someone submits themselves to me and their pictures are so retouched they look like an anime character, it makes me think that they are trying to hide what they really look like. One, they end up looking ridiculous a lot of the time, and two, having that stuff done can get very expensive!
You should be submitting plain old regular digital photographs taken with your Kodak cheapie cam outdoors in natural light. When you walk into an agency, bring pictures you printed out for 15 cents at your local Rite-Aid. In the pictures, wear little to no makeup with natural hair and a form fitting outfit. Dead straight-on face, direct side profile, and full body. Sometimes it's instinctual to turn your face 3/4 to the camera. Don't do this. Everybody looks good at that angle. Also, sweet holy jujubees, do not send a kissy duck face picture from your MySpace or a picture of you out drinking two years ago on St.Patrick's Day!
Also, if you are going to mail physical pictures in, don't send in a disc or flash drive. If you are submitting via email, don't send pictures that are 50 bajillion megabytes that will freeze my computer. Then I just get crabby!
What are agents looking for?
The next It girl, of course!
What are some common mistakes made by aspiring models?
One would be being too pushy. Yes, it takes perseverance and a thick skin to survive as a model, but if an agency says they are not interested in you, don't argue — try a different agency. We have had certain instances where girls come back to the agency week after week, hoping for a different answer. It is very reasonable to resubmit yourself after a few months of an initial rejection, but do not come back four times in the same month! I am always respectful; however, one needs to understand that submitting yourself persistently to the point of stalking an agency is disrespecting our time. You should want to be with an agency that really wants you to be there. If they tell you they are not interested in your look, why would you want to be with them? You don’t! You should be with an agency that is excited about you, loves your look, has your best interest at heart, and is ready to work for you.
Another common mistake is being taken advantage of. Know that a real and legitimate agency does NOT require any money to "sign up." An agency that takes you on is supposed to believe in you enough to invest the money to develop you. If money is spent by the agency on you, you pay it back when you book jobs. Being a model is something that so many people want to do and only a microscopic percentage of people can do it, which is why there are many lurking in the wings who can promise you the world and do nothing but take your money. Just remember that your goal is to make money, not spend it. It sounds like a simple enough idea to grasp, but I can't tell you how many people I've met that spend astronomical amounts of money for the chance to get discovered. The chance to get discovered is actually free. Just send your pictures in. If you don't hear back, move on.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in the business, what would it be?
I have a few bits of advice:
1) Have realistic goals!
2) Get a college education to fall back on. Do not stop your entire life. Go to school, get a degree, and have other goals and dreams. An agency who loves you will work with your school schedule. It will take a lot of extra hard work and discipline to do pursue both an education and a career, but I cannot stress how important it is!
3) Also, be nice! If you are currently on the cover of Vogue, this rule does not apply to you. To everyone else, have a positive attitude, be humble, and be nice to everyone. First of all, you never know who is who or who you are talking to. People in fashion are young and old. Some are totally normal and some are crazy. Some are dressed in the latest couture and some look like homeless people. Don't judge other people by their appearance but know that as a model everyone is judging you by yours. You could snub the crazy looking woman you see in the hallway of the building where you have a casting and then later discover that she is the designer with the ultimate decision to cast you in her fashion show. If a client is between you and another model, having a great attitude and energy could give you the edge to book the job! Nobody wants to work with a diva.
4) I'd also suggest to remember the agents who work for you. Ask how their weekend was. Send them a Happy Presidents' Day card! If you book a little look book, send a Starbucks card! If you book a huge Prada campaign, take them to Fiji! I'm teasing about Fiji, but little things to make the people who work for you feel appreciated go a long way!
Kimberly says any aspiring models who would like submit themselves for representation can check out www.lamodels.com and www.lamodelsblog.com. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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