Signing to an agency is only the first step in a models career. The relationship between you and the agent is extremely important to your success. Agents have a lot of models assigned to their books especially in a large organisation. Therefore, it is crucial that you are not forgotten or overlooked and you maintain a great relationship with your agency.
Don’t always wait for the agent to contact you. Ring or email quite frequently to discuss your career and the opportunities available. However, do not pester them with daily questions and calls as this will most definitely annoy them. Agents are extremely busy people working in a fast paced, ever changing environment and will not have the time to speak daily or even weekly. Do not become offended by this but do reach out now and again to keep a presence.
How to Say No
The fear of maintaining a long-term client and agency relationship leave many models agreeing to everything. It is a complex situation to be in as you feel pressured to keep the agency happy yet if the opportunity is not for you it is important to raise your concerns early on. Simply be open and honest with the agent as soon as possible. Agreeing to a casting or role to only back out at a later date will cause more issues than saying no from the start. If you are unsure, ask if you can think about it and ring back later.
Outline what you are comfortable doing from the beginning and check that the niche that they specialise in is for you. For example, a glamour modelling agency will expect for you to model in your lingerie or even nude in a provocative way. If you do not want to pose in this way do not approach agencies who work in this area.
Make a Good Impression
When you attend a casting and job that your agent has arranged for you, always give your best. Arrive on time, be friendly, confident and professional when you enter the room. You are also representing the agency as well as yourself. You don’t want to create a bad reputation by being rude and abrupt. Casting agents will report back to your agency and to avoid jeopardising your career do not appear arrogant or overly shy on the day.
Of course, if you are badly treated then make sure you give feedback to your agent. Recently, Balenciaga were criticised for leaving lots of models locked in an unlit stairwell with no food or water whilst they went for lunch. This is unacceptable and must be reported to avoid happening again.
The Agents Commitment to Their Clients
As well as maintaining a good relationship with their models, the client and agency link is even more important. Unfortunately, in the fickle industry that attracts hundreds of desperate hopefuls, models can easily be replaced. However, those carefully nurtured connections with brands and designers are crucial to the agencies success. Without well-established labels on their list, agencies will not have the work to offer and the money to pay their staff and models. Therefore, when they send you attend a casting they are putting their faith and trust in you to deliver.
Modelling Agencies Have Favourites
It is well known in the industry that agencies have their favourites; a core group of models that they can rely on to perform each time. It is your aim to become at the top of that list. The models on the ‘elite list’ are individuals who have proven themselves to be reliable and able to deliver each and every time. An agent needs to have confidence that can handle the role available whether this be a photoshoot or fashion show.
The list changes as new faces join the agency and prove their worth. Models can stop being favourites very quickly if you repeatedly do not perform well or keep rejecting offers. It’s easy to be replaced in a world that attracts beautiful models worldwide.
Some are favoured because of friendships, which can be deemed unfair. However, make sure that you are known for your professionalism and reliability to naturally move up the list and remain at the top. Don’t focus on what you can’t control, simply concentrate on what you can. Work hard, be persistent and determined to secure your place in the agencies hierarchy of models.
Do Not Sign a Contract with an Untrustworthy Agency
There have been many reports that some agencies exploit their models to earn more money. For example, a model may have been told that their expenses are covered yet are subtracted from their paycheck. When the money arrives it is significantly lower due to the deductions and a smaller wage than initially agreed to. Some models have been known to be blacklisted when they raised their concerns and ask for their money. Agents tell photographers and designers that they are fully booked and cannot attend the casting or shoot. It is a lie to punish you for bringing up the money issue.
It is a difficult, very tenuous situation to be in with many models not speaking up and therefore, being repeatedly exploited. The easiest way to avoid this corruption is to read the contract fully before signing. Make sure that you understand each section before agreeing. Without legal documentation on your side it is very difficult to get justice.
Unfortunately, modelling agencies has a lot of power in the industry over models. However, more and more models are speaking out everyday about their mistreatment to hopefully unite against the corruption. With the fashion world favouring young, innocent models who are afraid to speak out, it is down to the slightly older generation to give them a voice. Of course, not all agencies act in this way. Therefore, it is essential for models to do their research before signing a contract. Do not get carried away out of desperation for a modelling career.