What makes a model? There are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly it takes to be successful in the modeling industry. These are just the big ones:
– Good genes: Rule number one: if everyone could be a model, models wouldn’t be models. A large part of an aspiring models career is determined by the way the alleles match up long before they get discovered, or are walking for that matter. Height and the ability to maintain a model figure in a healthy manner are the first requirements.
– Determination: Models spend most of their time being rejected for one reason or another. Sometimes the client wants a girl or guy with a different length/color/cut of hair. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh well. Sometimes the client has seen 300 other models and can’t even remember you. A model must be able to hear “no” constantly and be able to move onto the next casting without taking it personally. Which can be really, really hard considering you are being judged for your physical person.
– Persistence: See above.
– Assertiveness: It often surprises me when I receive random requests on social media, or a stranger begins systematically liking all of my posts on Instagram, because they see I am an agent, in hopes that I will check them out and scout them. On the rarest of occasions, it works. Be assertive. Agencies take submissions for a reason. A submission is so much more than just a submission. Receiving a submission tells me an aspiring model is not afraid to hear no, not afraid of critique, and not afraid of taking risks. A submission is also the appropriate way to do business with an agency.
– Patience: I am blue in the face from reiterating this constantly. Everything we do is about timing; timing of the markets, timing of trends, timing of the model being ready. As an agent, I juggle all of these things until they all drop at once. That is when we make our move. If a model is not ready, or travels too soon, they can ruin their own reputation and burn bridges for the agency. Those are not the kinds of risks we want to take.
– Discipline: Just like being an Olympic athlete, being a model is much more than performing on the job. A model must always perform. Assuming an aspiring model is serious (shouldn’t they all be), they must be ready to live the life of a model. It means not eating everything you want all the time, though everything is all right in moderation. It means not going out every night, as tempting as that might be. It means committing to the craft and being willing to study, learn, and immerse oneself in the industry to understand how the cogs turn. It is to be a business person at all times and remember you represent yourself too.
– Confidence: If you don’t have it when you start (most don’t), fake it ’til you make it. The trick is to remember that everyone else is faking it ’til they make it too.
– Sense of self: A mental understanding of who you are, how you as a person, a muse, fit into the industry is equally as important as having the physicality. Not every model is meant for every client. In a subjective world based on personal aesthetic, everyone is not everyone’s cup of tea. I try to use this analogy when explaining to models: “When you go into a clothing store not everything fits your body just right or is your style. When you go into a casting, you might not be the client’s style, or more particularly, the style for the clothes that season.” Always remember, in fashion, for every brand, there is an opposite.
– Interest: This may seem obvious, but personal interest is also quite important. There are plenty of “model-looking” folks out there who have no interest in modelling. A lot of people an agent comes across when scouting have been approached numerous times. Sometimes they become interested after hearing it a few times, sometimes they have other plans. It is important to model based on your own passion for the industry and the craft, not because of outside pressure or opinion.
Of course, these are only a few of the qualities it takes to be a model, the big ones at least. There are no guarantees in modelling, but that is part of what makes it exciting. The unknown can be scary, but it can also be invigorating. It’s all a matter of attitude.