The Basics of Commercial Modeling & Acting
Most of you may not know this, but I started going to auditions/castings for modeling and acting jobs when I was about 10 years old. When my family moved to California, my mom and I got asked all the time if I modeled so eventually my mom and I just started looking into agencies. Back then things were done a little differently, but I remember us sending in photos to like 5-6 different agencies and doing our research before picking which we thought was the best to go with. I had decided LA models was going to be my choice and I went in to talk with them and take basic photographs. After that we had set up a photoshoot with a photographer to take real pictures for my comp card & modeling book - funny because now everything is literally digital so it’s all different.
If you’ve been thinking about getting into modeling and acting and you have time on your hands to go to castings - it could be totally worth getting into and it’s really not as hard as you might think.
Research agencies in your area and find out what the market is like where you live. So far I’ve done modeling in Southern California, Northern California, and now Austin, Texas. I was surprised to find that the market in Austin was actually a lot busier than I anticipated. I got castings 10x more than I even did in Northern California. My guess is that the market is not as saturated and with less people going to castings, I get called in a lot more.
Here in Austin, I picked Brown Agency because of their roots with Wilhelmina. They have open casting days where potential models / actors can come in and the agency can meet them in person, or you could just do like I did and send your photos and measurements in and see if they contact you. Once I met with Brown, I updated my photos with a professional photographer friend and then those photos went up on the Brown website and to the casting network websites.
NOTE - if an agency asks you for money to do things like “take classes” etc. I would not trust it. Sometimes agencies will recommend it and that’s fine but if they MAKE you - it might not be legit. There are obvious fees when doing modeling and acting such as getting your photos taken, yearly web hosting fees for photos, basic stuff like that, but you shouldn’t be forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money doing extra things. The point is that you make money modeling and acting and not loose money. However - If you have never acted or modeled some classes can be helpful in teaching you things such as terminology or basics. But it can also be really easy to pick up after attending a few auditions. There’s nothing crazy hard about learning to stand on a mark, state your name, agency, show your profile, but there are harder things such as memorizing lines and becoming comfortable reciting or ad-libbing in front of a camera and people you’ve never met before.
When it comes to auditions - the most important thing I learned from a friend is that the casting directors WANT you to succeed. It may seem intimidating but it’s their job to find people to deliver that do well and fit the part. So if they make you rehearse a line or part 2-3 times over, it’s because they want you to do well or want to see you do it differently incase you’re the right fit, not necessarily because you did it bad the first time. If anything - that should make you feel more comfortable. They don’t want to see you do poorly and they should never be intimidating even if it feels that way. If they’re purposely making you feel intimidated then they’re doing their job poorly.
Availability for auditions is SUPER important. If you don’t have time to head to an audition at the drop of a hat it may not be the right industry for you. The one reason it works for me is because my job is mostly work from home and I have the flexible schedule for it! I have to be able to agree to auditions that usually take place the next day & sometimes the same day.
Another thing to remember is that ANYONE no matter how you look, can model or act. Why? Because there are ALL kinds of parts to fill. Being “pretty” is not a qualification. What it’s really about is having a “look” that they need for that ad or commercial or role. I think it’s funny when friends say, “you’ll totally get the part, you’re so pretty!” or something to that nature. REALLY it’s all about what look they are trying to cast and “pretty” has nothing to do with it.
Sometimes I get really pessimistic about going in to certain castings when I feel I don’t “LOOK” the part - but that’s also wrong on my end. I should go whenever I get asked to attend a casting because all experience is good experience. Trying to act out different roles even if they don’t feel like “you” is good acting practice. I remember one time I got asked to audition for the role of a doctor and the folks auditioning for the patient and patient’s wife were much older than myself. The casting director couldn’t help himself and called me a Doogie Howser which I actually agreed with but we laughed and all rolled with it anyways. Sometimes you just have to take the experience and roll with it and learn from it and USE IT as a good experience because who knows maybe one day they will need a very young looking doctor and then I will know how to act like a doctor because I practiced! Or it just helps you work on your ad-libbing and memorization skills in an overall sense.
With all the Instagram models and Bachelorette contestants turned bloggers, there seems like a lot of competition out there to succeed. I’m not famous or well-known, but in my opinion it’s a totally separate world. Try not to get down if you’re not being found out about through social media mediums. Although it can help you to have a big following, that’s not going to affect your talent and your ability to put in the work. Commercial modeling and acting when being booked through an agency is a little different than brands reaching out to your Instagram and asking you to post a picture with their product. So you have to look at that positive / plus side of it!
If you’re serious about getting into modeling & acting, do your research on an agency, take good photos to send in alongside your measurements, be specific about your intentions with them, and put in the hard work of going to all types of castings whenever you get the opportunity!