A career in the model industry is no doubt a fun career. It’s a job that lets you travel the world to attend fashion shows, photoshoots and award shows. If you’re really lucky you can work alongside famous models, designers and photographers!
As you can imagine, it’s not all high fashion and glamour. The life of a model scout, agent or booker can be exhausting with a lot of time spent at airports and hotels. There is also the problem of dealing with grumpy models and difficult clients.
Role of a scout
There is a different between a model scout, an agent and a booker. A model scouts focuses on scouting new faces to present back to agencies. If the model is in high demanded to be signed by various agencies, a scout would then guide the model to the best choice for them. There are many stories of models being scouted at shopping centres or festivals and that does happen. Scouts are always looking for the new talent and the next top model can be discovered anywhere!
Once a model is contracted by an agency, the scouts job is done. That’s when the agent and booker come in. An agent or booker will manage a specific group of models and handle all negotiations when booking in jobs. They will also cater to each models brand and career goals.
1 – Have passion for the industry
With any career path you choose, if there isn’t a true passion to succeed, then failure will be the outcome! The most successful scouts and agents are the ones who have drive and can’t imagine a career doing anything else. The modelling industry is tough therefore, you need passion to get through rough moments! It takes an unimaginable amount of commitment to conquer this industry and determination will help.
2 – Research the business and history
Theres a saying “to know where you are going, you have to know where you’ve been” and this fits perfectly in the modelling industry. Learning about the modelling business and the history will only improve the chance of success.
Know which agencies and scouts paved the way for superstars like Twiggy, Lauren Hutton and Cindy Crawford. What led those models to be so highly sought after? The names of todays faces should also be known, as well as the up and coming talent.
3 – Knowing the lingo
There are certain models terms and phrases like “time for prints”, buyouts, vouchers and comp cards. Be sure to know and understand all the different lingo as agencies will not teach such commonly used terms.
4 – Get work as an intern or assistant
One fast track option into the modelling world is to take an unpaid internship. Several of hollywoods mega agents such as David Geffen and Michael Ovitz started their journey in the mailroom! A must read for anyone serious about becoming an agent should buy the book ‘The Mailroom’ by David Rensin.
Be willing to begin at the bottom and climb towards the dream position. By fully immersing yourself in the industry, the understanding of how the scouting world functions, will become very clear.
5 – Focus on one type of modelling
Make a decision on which area to become an expert in. Whether is representing male modes, female models or child models, it’s best to specialise in one area. Becoming a specialist in a specific field will make you the go-to person for that type of modelling.
It’s very important in any industry to network but especially in the modelling industry. Scouts need agencies and agencies need scouts, so it’s the perfect environment to help one another. The international modelling and talent association (IMTA) host an annual modelling convention in New York and Los Angeles.
There is also a great source of agents and scouts online at modelscouts.com. This offers new scouts the change to market new faces to major agencies through mentorship.
7 – Understanding basic contract law
Theres no rule that anyone needs a law degree to be an agent. However, understanding the basic contract law and how to negotiate contracts is necessary. Many online sites offer to teach basic contract law for free. The book Hollywood Dealmaking – Negotiating Talent Agreements by Dina Apple and Daniel Yankelevits offers a more industry focussed approach.
8 – Willing to take risks
No one becomes successful without taking risks. A career as a scout or an agent means approaching strangers in random locations in order to build a client list. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen said in an interview with Vogue that she was discovered as a teenager sitting with friends eating a McDonalds.
Don’t be afraid to believe in a new models potential and negotiate “time for prints” with photographers.
Most model scouts and agents do not earn a salary but work on a commission basis, taking a percentage off their models earnings.
9 – Always remember to be professional
Being a professional means having a reputation. It’s more than just calling yourself an agent or scout. Professional behaviour is keeping appointment times, diffusing difficult situation and most importantly never bad mouthing another agent or scout. Also, expenses and payroll needs to be paid on time and never leave models and photographers unpaid.
10 Inappropriate behaviour
In any professional setting, never inappropriately or sexually make suggestive comments or look at a model in a way that may make them feel uneasy. The nature of the modelling industry can make even an innocent act of kindness seem creepy or scary to a model.
11 – Trust your gut
Always follow intuition and believe in those decisions. If there is a new face that has star potential but none of the major agencies agree, then convince them!
Model Scout David Cunningham come across Kate Upton and introduced her IMG Models in New York, however her curves made everyone think that Cunningham had taken some crazy pill. Kate was deemed “not fashion enough” but the head of IMG Ivan Bart saw Kates potential and signed her. Kate Upton has earned millions of dollars through modelling and acting. So, moral of the Storie is to always trust that gut feeling.