By Bruce Edwin
The great talent Kevin Spacey arrives pictured here, for the 86th Annual Oscars. Kevin Spacey is one of the few actors of our time, who has built his career on talent, not hype. He states, "If you're lucky enough to do well, it's your responsibility to send the elevator back down."
Bruce Edwin is founding CEO of the A-list firm Starpower Management LLC, publisher and creator of The Hollywood Sentinel, and producer of motion picture. His services, based on his years of expertise and success in the music and film industry are sought out and used by some of the most powerful companies and stars in entertainment. This article series, a precursor to his upcoming book series, is his way of giving back to models, actors and bands, with knowledge, that in its totality and with its unabashed honesty cannot not be found anywhere else, for free. Whether you want to be a famous model, actor, singer, director, producer, or similar, the following advice will help you in most any chosen area of entertainment.
How to Succeed as a Model in the Fashion and Entertainment Industry
I want to state for the record again, something that is very, very important for models to know, and for potential models and their parents to know, and that is the following;
MODELS DO NOT NEED TO GO TO A MODELING SCHOOL IN ORDER TO BE A MODEL
If you want to waste money, then yes, go to a modeling school. If you want to save money and time, then follow this simple advice. I have represented hundreds of models, seen over ten thousand, and interviewed and rejected over the phone over ten thousand more over the past decade of my career as a model and talent manager. So I can safely state that I am an expert on models and aspiring talent; what they want, and what holds them back. The following are 12 essential things needed for you to succeed as a model in the fashion and entertainment industry. If you do not follow even one of these rules, you will risk failing in your entire career. Each one is essential. Read them, know them, and follow them if you want to succeed.
1, Know that modeling requires an investment. Be aware that most models have to invest in their own photos; zed cards (comp. or composite cards) and portfolio book. Most agencies or managers will not pay for this for you. If you are lucky, they may advance you the money for this and take it out of your first job, however that is rare. Aside from photos and your portfolio book, which you should not spend more than 50 bucks on (closer to 25), the other costs are your normal beauty care routines including hair, nails, proper food, water, nutrition, vitamins, and gym, as well as transportation and parking if applicable to and f?rom go-sees or jobs. You do NOT need to go to school in order to be a model. Take an acting class or a ballet or other dance class if you want get some related education, but don't waste your time and money on a modeling school. Watch fashion shows to learn how to walk, and balance that book on your head at home instead. I have known professional models who have appeared on the covers of Vogue and Bazaar in Europe, who did modeling schools. They enjoyed it and got some value out of them, but they were not the ones that paid for it (their parents did), and they said that it was not necessary. Save your or your parents money.
2, Always bring a recent hard copy photo to meet an agent or manager that you don't need back, with your name and number printed on it. You do not need pro photos to walk in to meet with an agent or manager, unless you talk with them first and they specifically state this. Otherwise, simply bring in two snapshots of yourself that clearly shows your face and figure, and write your name and number on the back. Never give an agent or manager any photos that you want back. Do not spend money on photos in order to meet with an agent or manager.
3, Do not spend money in order to sign with an agent or manager. They may suggest that you shoot with a photographer on their preferred list. Take at least 24 hours to check out the agency or management company, and to check out the photographers and make sure that you feel comfortable making this investment if you do. Technically it is now illegal for an agency or management company to make money off of referring any model or talent to anywhere. I won't digress on political philosophy aspects of the free market and capitalism here, but just be aware that the big agencies including Ford were started by making a referral fee in this manner. Today, major motion picture studios make money off of things like furniture rental and phone rentals by outside vendors, where tenants have no choice in the matter. Now, the main background agency for actors in Hollywood no longer charges a fee for photos after having gotten in trouble for that, but they now heavily promote casting director 'workshops' for their clients. If I were a model or talent, I would be less worried about who makes money where, and more concerned with who books jobs and can help my career. Also be aware that once you get photos that are OK for one agency or management firm, they will most likely not be OK with another agency. Most agencies want their pictures to look a certain way, and they are entitled to that. There are a few exceptions, but this is normally the case. Don't spend money on photos until you have an agent or manager who will guarantee you that they will use them, who you know can get you work.
4, Have self esteem. I have had many models want to sign with me and be models because they said that it would help them feel better about themselves if they thought they were pretty and desirable. The modeling and talent industry is not a place to gain self esteem. Also, there are plenty of sharks out there who will heap false praise and flattery on people in order to take advantage of their insecurities. Work on yourself and your self esteem before entering the modeling and talent world. Feel good about yourself. Know that whatever your look, age, height, weight, bust, waist, hips, eye color, ethnicity, or type, you are a unique and beautiful person. You are valuable and important, and what matters most is the you that is inside you; your spirit. The most handsome actor and most beautiful supermodel on the planet will one day grow old and die. While we can celebrate beauty, and it is O.K. to do that, we are more than our skin and bones. No one can cage, sell, buy, market, reject, hurt, destroy or kill your spirit. You are spiritual being who has worth and beauty no matter who you are, and for that alone you should love yourself. Love yourself, and never let anyone- including me or any other model and talent manager, agent, casting director, producer, the media, or yourself, hurt you. Feel good about yourself, and always carry that love and respect for yourself with you.
5, Respect yourself. A part of self esteem is respecting yourself. Don't demean and cheapen yourself by doing foolish, tacky, degrading work that is exploitative or insulting. The human form is a work of art that I believe can be captured nude by certain artists in styles on film, photography, or other art that can beautiful, with high aesthetic value. However much of nudity in the entertainment industry, especially on T.V., is low grade, and does nothing to lift up society or women. Aspire to better than cheap, low grade nudity. Have respect for yourself, your body, and your image. Choose jobs wisely. If you are going to do stupid, degrading jobs, then at least keep your clothes on and do them outside of the model and talent industry. Contrary to the wrong idea of some, embarrassing jobs are not a necessary stepping stone to better jobs in the modeling or talent world. Rather, accepting lame jobs will tell others that this is all you are worth. Respect yourself, and demand the best. Show that you are worth more.
6, Don't compare yourself to others. Another big reason models and talent fail, is that they look around at their peers on set or in casting rooms, and due to their own insecurity, compare their own self identity to their impression of others. Even the biggest star has problems. The long list of celebrities who have overdosed is proof of that. Don't assume that just because someone is more rich, famous, getting more work, has more credits, or is further along in their career or goals, that they are more valuable or better than you. Consider that everyone is your equal. We are all on different trips. Don't compare yourself to others, unless it helps you grow and feel good about yourself, and treat yourself and others kindly.
7, Don't be a victim of the media. Similar to comparing yourself to others, is being a victim of the media. This entails reading fashion magazines and gossip tabloids, websites, and watching TV shows about stars and assuming that this is reality. Most mainstream media is owned by multi-national corporations, some of which have certain agendas to sell certain products or services. Political philosopher Noam Chomsky, who I interviewed here for The Hollywood Sentinel in a former issue, wrote a great book and made a great video concerning this, called "Manufacturing Consent," about how the media deliberately manipulates public opinion, attitudes, and emotions. Industries like the major pharmaceutical corporation typically wants people to think they are weak or sickly, and in need of the their pills, needles, or plastic surgery. Many cosmetic companies, owned by Big Pharma play on the weaknesses and insecurities of young women, attempting to con them in to buying the latest product. While it is important to know what is going on in your industry, the truth is, until you can separate fact from fiction, the less you view things like gossip rags and low grade media, the healthier you will be.
8, Avoid plastic surgery. I have had hundreds and hundreds of young women ask me if they should get plastic surgery in one area of their body or another, from face lifts, tummy tucks, boob jobs, and more. The answer is and always is NO! Love the body and face that you were given, and work on any improvements through natural methods including proper nutrition and working out. The plastic surgery industry has wrecked and ruined women's lives with botched jobs. Plastic and other unnatural substances do not belong in your body. Avoid this!
9, Avoid diet pills. The makers of most diet pills should be locked up. Most of these pills are poison, that destroys girls bodies and minds. I have personally witnessed one actress who took diet pills that made her become suicidal. Avoid this garbage. Anyone that advertises and makes this poison which can wreck users minds and bodily organs should be held liable for the crimes against humanity they commit.
10, Avoid drugs, tobacco, and excess alcohol. Alcohol wrecks your liver and dries out your skin. It also impairs judgement and can lead to poor choices or worse--death. Avoid over-indulgence in alcohol. Tobacco causes pre-mature aging, ruins the skin, makes you stink, and causes cancer for those who smoke and those around the smoker. It is nasty. Stop smoking. Pot, which many people wrongly think is safe, can cause permanent changes to the brain, slows down reaction time, causes one to escape; rather than deal with reality, can cause hallucinations, can be laced with harder drugs, may be supporting drug cartels that traffic other drugs, guns, and children, and will make you lazy and forgetful. Pharmaceutical drugs are the #1 killer in the U.S., greater than deaths caused by the automobile. Avoid pills and other drugs and live an all natural lifestyle instead. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Also, avoid tanning beds which cause disease.
11, Demand to be treated well. If someone on a shoot or set treats you badly, tell your agent or manager. If your agent or manager treats you badly, tell them as nicely as you can either by phone or in writing how you feel, and ask for it to stop. If it does not stop, decide if the opportunities you are getting are worth the bad treatment. If it is not, then move on. Life is too short to be stuck in a situation where you are not treated right.
12, Don't take things personally. When someone is mean or hurtful, it usually is not even personal. Even though they might say personal things to try and personally hurt you, even then it is usually not personal. Most people that hurt others do so because they are angry, and at the very deep bottom of that anger is usually a lot of hurt that probably has nothing to do with you. Know that if someone hurts your feelings, they are probably doing it unconsciously, and may not even be aware of their actions, or may be stuck in such bad habits that it is hard for them to stop. Try and picture them as a small child, smile with sincerity, and forgive them. It is easy to react back to someone who treats us badly in the same manner, but try to rise above that. Be a light for them that reflects back love, not more anger.
13, Be on time, and do what you say you are going to do. A part of being a professional, is being on time and doing what you say you will do. If you respect others, you will be on time and keep your word to them. If you are late, it shows the person that you have little to no respect for them, their time, or their life. And if you don't respect others time, then you probably don't respect yourself very much either, which goes back to self esteem. Because if you are late, you are going to make people mad, and they will respect you less, which is exactly what you can count on happening. So if you are late for someone, or worse, flake on them entirely, you are not only disrespecting others, but you are also hating yourself by making yourself now receive the verbal lashing you will get. So again, this come back to sell respect. When someone flakes on me or is late, it tells me that they not only don't respect me to the level I need, but even more sadly, it tells me that they don't respect, honor, and love themselves enough, because they are setting themselves up for a negative reaction. I have always had a policy of refusing to work with anyone that is flaky or significantly late, which has made hundreds of people out of the thousands I have seen get upset. The model and talent industry will not tolerate lateness. You should not tolerate it in yourself either. There are a small number of great models and talent out there that are great that are on time. Be one of the few and great. Have integrity with your word. Be trustworthy.
14, Make sure your look stays marketable. Longer hair is better. Girls always ask me if shorter or longer hair is better for work. The answer is long. A girl with long hair can always cut it off if needed for a high paying job, but a girl with short hair can always what; get a wig? Maybe, but maybe not. Not everyone wants to work with wigs. Longer hair is always better, and the color that is your natural or most close to your natural color is best, to keep it healthy. Avoid multiple shades and extreme cuts unless your agent and you agree both agree, but know that you will then usually limit your work a lot. Never cut off any major length or dye your hair a different color, or do anything else extreme like get a tattoo or piercing without consulting with your agent or manager first. I have had many girls that could have gotten great jobs if they hadn't had tattoos that could not be covered up, or huge gauges. Take care of your body and skin. Eat healthy, drink enough water, and work out regularly.
15, Always answer your phone for your agent or manager at all humanly possible times. Always have your phone on you and charged. I have had girls get great auditions and go-sees who answered their phones when they were in the bath, shower, and beyond. I have also had girls lose great auditions because they would hardly ever answer their phone. When you answer your phone, be ready to talk, and be ready to write if necessary. Be professional on the phone, and keep a short, professional recording on your outbound message. When leaving messages, keep them brief, to the point, and always state your name and number twice, including at the very start of the message. Answer your own phone, don't let others answer your phone for you.
16, Go to interviews, go-sees, auditions, and jobs alone, unless you are under 18. If you feel you must, have your boyfriend or parent wait in the car, but don't try or ask to bring them in to anything. Also, don't try to get passes for anyone other than you to drive on to a studio lot or secured set, unless you are under 18. If you don't feel safe with a job or go see, then don't do it to begin with.
17, Don't ever take any rejection personally for any interview, go see, or job. Some people in this industry will actually test you to see how you handle rejection. Handle it with grace and poise. Know that modeling jobs or acting jobs are just like the city bus; there is always another just around the corner. (Well, unless you are talking about the L.A. city bus, but that's another story).
18, Have other sources of income. Even if you land a great campaign that pays a good sum of money, there may be a period of time between the next job when you are not getting work. Have other sources of money coming in to pay the bills.
19, Show gratitude. Be grateful for the jobs you get, and show appreciation. Thank any agent, manager, casting director or other person that helps you get work and hires you. Thank them verbally and with a thank you card. People will appreciate you more when you appreciate them, and you will get remembered even more as the person they should hire the next time a job opportunity comes around. Even if you don't get the job, a follow up thank you for their consideration can go a long way to show that you have manners, that you are grateful for being in the industry, and that you are someone who appreciates others.
20, Get a great model and talent manager and agent. Any top model has a team that helps her get work, and publicity. Read back issues of The Hollywood Sentinel's How to Succeed in Hollywood, via the archives section at the left of each issue, for further advice on how to get an agent or manager, and how to succeed in Hollywood. I hope this has helped many of you. If you have questions, you may contact me through the front page of this site.
Visit the official Starpower Management website at: www.StarpowerManagementLLC.com
This content is © 2014, The Hollywood Sentinel / Bruce Edwin, all rights reserved.