So you want to become a model …or maybe an actor. Welcome to the club!
I’ve had many people ask, “How do I (or get my kids) into the business?” So, I figured to make this easier for everyone, I’d write a blog series about what I’ve learned in my pursuit of modeling and how to get started. (Some of what I’ll be covering can also be applied to the acting and entertainment industry). In this article I’ll paint a general picture of what the industry is like to help you decide whether or not it’s for you.
Before you read on, consider the following:
- Can you handle rejection? …I mean a lot of rejection…on a consistent basis?
- Would you be able to accept never knowing the reason you were rejected?
- Are you ready to be judged and rejected solely based on your appearance?
- Are you willing to invest years before you reach the professional level you’d like to achieve?
- Are you willing to invest years with the possibility of never even making it?
This is the toughest industry to break into. Everyone wants to be a model or an actor …and a lot of those people are beautiful and talented, which makes it a very competitive industry. You will not realize how difficult it is until you’re on your merry way. But then it won’t be as merry as you thought…and there will be tears at some point. I promise.
Growing up people would always tell me I should be a model. In early 2008, I decided to try out for America’s Next Top Model. I needed photos to submit. Well…I didn’t have any because I’d never done any modeling before, so I found a photographer to take some pictures of me. I remember feeling extremely awkward and had no idea what I was doing! (But that’s beside the point).
So I went to the casting call, did what was required of me and handed off my packet of information with my pictures. Even though I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t make it (after all, thousands of girls try out for this every year), I left the casting with high hopes. I felt good about my submission. And since I was always told I could be a model, I wouldn’t be surprised if they called to tell me I made it. Well…they never called me. Apparently…all the other hundreds of girls at the casting were told the same thing at some point in their life, “You could be a model” – and most of them probably could be.
That’s when I learned lesson #1: You’re not as special as you think.
Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude but that’s just how it is in this industry. You are replaceable. For every one model or actor, there are at least hundreds of others that are equally qualified. If you can’t handle this then don’t waste anymore time reading this article.
Lesson #2: You will face rejection.
Being rejected doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t qualified to be a model or an actor. It just means you weren’t right for that job. You’re just not what the designer or casting directors are looking for. It could be a variety of factors. Maybe you nailed your runway walk at your go see or performed your audition perfectly. But even then it doesn’t mean you’ll get the part. Perhaps it’s simply because you don’t have the right “look”. I was surprised once to find out I didn’t get a job because my look was “too glamorous”. Regardless of what people think, modeling isn’t always about “who is the most beautiful”. Modeling is really only about one thing – selling a product or idea. It’s a business. Which brings me to a side note: leave your ego at the door. No one wants to work with a diva. Be professional.
This next piece of advice will save you a lot of heartache.
Lesson #3: Don’t take it personally.
Save yourself the time and energy. Don’t try and figure out why you didn’t get the part. If you are lucky enough to learn why you were rejected, take that information as a learning opportunity and move on.
Lesson #4: Be persistent.
Some people in the industry were discovered right away. Others (…others being the majority) had to work at it for years …and years before they got their big break. Don’t count on being the exception. As the saying goes, it all comes down to right place, right time. It usually takes going to hundreds of auditions before a beginning actor is offered a single role. Just keep at it. You’ll never have your “right time” moment sitting at home.
I’d like to leave you with a bit of inspiration and something to think about. Let’s talk about Heidi Klum. Most people know her from being one of Victoria’s Secret’s most-famous Angels and most recently as the host of Project Runway. She’s gorgeous, right? … One of the top supermodels of our time. Designers were knocking down her door at the chance to work with her. If you thought that statement was true… actually… it was quite the opposite! In an interview with Allure, she tells the magazine of her early years of modeling, “No one would book me … I was too curvy and too busty and a little too short” (Allure, May 2012). But she didn’t let that stop her and paved her own way. “I always wanted first to be a model. So I had to say, ‘OK, you’re going to find other things to do in this industry, or it’s maybe not my industry.’”
Klum’s modeling career began when she won a modeling contest. Five years later she debuted on the catwalk for Victoria’s Secret. A year later she got her big break when she landed the cover of Sports Illustrated. It took her six years before she earned top model status and 15 years into her modeling career until she was named by Forbes as third on the list of the World’s 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.
After reading this, and you think you have what it takes, read my next article about how to get started in the industry.