The most important criteria required become a successful model (apart from the right look, obvs) is persistence. You’re going to have to laugh in the face of rejection – even though you want to cry. You’re going to have to go to trillions of castings just got land one job. You’re going to have to sit through test shoots modelling the most atrocious make up and hair looks on the off chance that a picture might change the course of your career.One of my early tests, for which I had to travel to Rochester after a long day of school and pose in my coat in a playground in freezing February – but (despite that hair) it got me loads of hair work (mainly terrible hair jobs)
When I started modelling, I was the least persistent person in the world! Though I was friendly and confident socially, I was quite meek and not really someone who could stand up for myself. This was, of course, partly due to the fact that I was barely 16 in a very exciting but intimidating adult industry, in which the threat of being dropped felt like it loomed at every corner.
I was as meek as this baby pangolin
If an agency abroad didn’t pay what they owed me, I shrugged my shoulders and left it*. If I was sent on a stupid pointless test shoot on a day that I had a shed load of amazing request castings, I quietly deferred to my bookers, not wanting to ruffle any feathers. I put off asking for money because I didn’t want to annoy the accountants.
Well, they days of being that meek, baby pangolin are far behind me now! I’ve now learnt that persistence pays off, combined with standing up for yourself. This is for any career, not just modelling, so I’d love to share my top 5 tips for being persistent in modelling, freelance work or, indeed, any career.
*Including one job for 28 thousand Euro from one agency in Paris!!! *face, palm, sigh, eye roll, fist shake*
1) It’s Your Money, Chase It
Clients being slow to pay is just a part of the job, I’m afraid, and it’s not your job to chase them: it’s the task of your agency’s accountant.
However, once it is in, it’s rightfully yours. I am so thankful to be at an agency, Bookings, that pays whatever’s come in right away.
But I shouldn’t be thankful! It’s what they’re meant to do.
Not mentioning any names, but I have been at an agency that were incredibly slow to pay. When they did pay, there were errors and the unclear statements they would eventually send me made it difficult to know what I was owed. The agency wasn’t on the AMA, which made it hard to get what was rightfully mine.
In the end, tired of politely asking for my money, I took matters into my own hands. I rang up the clients themselves (such as national newspapers and large clothing brands), asked for their accounts departments (so it was pretty scary!) and received confirmation of when jobs had been paid (sometimes up to two years previously. I know, terrible, right?) This I then sent to the agency and demanded payment, which was legally owed to me. Eventually, I got my money, but it was only through dogged persistence and a lot of angry tears.
The character I channelled when chasing my money: there was No More Mr Nice Guy.
Lesson #1: If you’re not at an agency on the AMA, this might happen to you!
Lesson #2: You’ve done a days work, and contractually you are owed money by the client and the agency. The law is on your side, but you will have to take matters into your own hands and chase it. It might have to come down to the Small Claim’s Court.
2) Learn from Every Rejection
Eurgh, easier said than done! When you’ve done a day of castings and one or two felt like they went amazingly, and then you don’t even get optioned, it can really get you down. The only way I can deal with it is to see what I could change next time. This could be…’my hair was still wet from my shower and looked all flat. Next time I should be more groomed,’ to, ‘I should have struck up a conversation with them instead of looking at my toes, shyly.’
Voodoo dolls in the image of your rejecters are another option.
It’s not really something I’d recommend – Jumanji put me off magickey voodoo things for life – but it’s an option!
3) Every cancelled optioned is disappointing – but at least you were optioned!
If I had a penny for every time an amazing option has been cancelled on me, I’d have spent it all on gin and drowned my sorrows.
Sometimes you get optioned and that’s that – you’re probably never going to get booked by them, ever, because they will be looking for someone with a different look next season.
a) You were optioned! Out of thousands of girls in London who they could have cast, and out of the hundreds of models that they requested to see, they narrowed it down to just a few – and one of them was you! That means you’re doing something right. I find it a bit of an ego boost to imagine that out of all those girls I stood out…(although it doesn’t do my bank balance any good…)
b) All those clients at the casting liked you enough to option you this time – and they’ll all be working on other shoots in the future. If you make yourself stand out enough, you might get a different job in the future.
c) It’s better to be optioned and cancelled than not to be optioned at all. That’s seriously gin-inducingly depressing when you’re going through a quiet patch.
4) Don’t lose sight of your goals
It’s so tough to remain strong, hopeful, optimistic and realistic in this industry. Some people will never make it. Some people rise to the top almost instantly, like Kelly Mitendorff.Kelly was an overnight success.
Cara is enormous now – but back in the day she was doing humble e-com with ASOS!
Whereas Lara Stone was working away on my kind of level of modelling til she was about 26, and hit the big time later on.
Modelling isn’t like exams, for example. If you revise hard enough, memorise the facts and get your technique just right, you can get 100% – in modelling, you can dream of Vogue, but you can’t guarantee Anna Wintour’s gonna book you! However you can decide that you want to slog it out, doing your castings, downing gross green juices and putting up with rejection because you want to be a successful, working model. The models with ambition and drive always stand out and the energy they put out means that they often succeed.
5) Stay in touch with clients you’ve worked for
Follow them on Twitter, follow their Facebook group, get their private email. That way you can chase pictures, which will help your book along and keep your look fresh. It also means you can stay present in their minds – important when they’re trying to book models at the last minute. Your agency is meant to do this, but realistically they’re not going to do that for every single test or tiny job that every single one of their models work on, or they’d never get the more important job of booking your next shoot done.
The main lesson here is that persistence in this industry is as much up to you as the people that represent you. Take control as much as you can, and try not to lose heart – your persistence will pay off in the end.