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Becoming a Classic Model . . . What’s It Like? Part 2

Becoming a Classic Model . . . What’s It Like? Part 2

I’ve had a great amount of support since my last post which is encouraging because there are many misconceptions about this industry.  I’m hoping to address these and provide a little more insight in the next few months about the mysterious land of modelling, TV presenting, voice-overs and acting. But for now, here are five more things I’m learning about becoming a classic model: 1) You are your own self-employed business and ‘full-time’ is not normal ‘full-time’.  As a model/actress/voice over artist, you are self-employed.  I have signed ‘terms and conditions’ with agents, but I’m contracted by the agent to the client for each individual job and the agent negotiates, taking a percentage of my pay.   ‘Full-time’ for a model is not five days a week at 37/40 hours.  It’s more like 1-2 days a week in addition to a casting.  This is how I can balance family life, writing, charity case work, cleaning the toilet, etc.  The challenges are not knowing ahead of time what days you will be working, as the industry functions on a day-to-day basis, and then figuring out how to plan each week accordingly.  Nowadays when I set up a meeting with friends, the disclaimer is always that I may have to rearrange at the last minute because of my job’s spontaneity.  

2) Learn to get over yourself.  One of the (many) reasons I like entering into this industry after getting a BA, having various other types of jobs, giving birth to two kids, losing and gaining weight because of children, being married, etc.,  is that I have learned for the most part to get over myself.  What do I mean by that?  Having gone through various seasons of life, I’ve experienced ugly parts and have seen that external beauty is fleeting – it is also subjective.  Even in the last few months, I have met some REALLY attractive people, especially girls whose biggest aspiration is to be on a Vogue cover.  These girls have been under the age of 25.  And though I hope they achieve that, I also know there is so much more to life than looking pretty for a camera.

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I love meeting other classic models or older actors as they too have had their trials and know that we all have flaws. The key is just learning how to deal with them.  I want to fully embrace who I am, flaws and all, and be content because it’s not worth wasting emotional energy on worrying, comparison or insecurity because it only harms and taints you.

In the past few weeks at different castings, I have made new acquaintances competing with me for the same role.  Two women I connected got the jobs I had auditioned for (they were big roles) – and I can say I am genuinely happy for them.  Both women ‘fit’ the part and both are women I want to get to know.  I’ve learned to ‘get over myself’ and celebrate when someone else succeeds (though I do have my moments and then have to make a choice of whether or not I entertain fruitless comparison and insecurity thoughts).  And it is crucial to realise a ‘no’ is not a personal rejection. It’s not that potential clients don’t like you as a person, it’s just that you aren’t the right fit for the job.

3)    A full-time model has more than one agent (usually one per region) unless they sign an exclusivity contract.  But it’s not wise to sign one (in modelling) unless they are a huge agency that can guarantee you lots of work.  One agent put in their contract that ‘there is no guarantee for consistent work.  Some models will have a job every week, some once a year.’ There is no rhyme or reason for it.  But an agent’s job, like I mentioned in the last post, is to get you experience and good work.  I also do freelance work, but it’s limited at the moment while I’m figuring my rates which vary so much from job to job.

Jeanie Run cropped

4) Figure out your brand and be secure with your ‘look’.  As I work with various photographers, and chat with my agents about what my strengths are, I’m learning what my brand is for ‘Jeannie – the commercial model’.  I’m not 20, so I steer clear of things a 20-year-old would do like the sexy glamorous stuff.  But I do look very young for my age (down to good genes and sun cream).  This is actually a challenge sometimes because I can’t always go for roles older than 40.

As I work with photographers and get some acting coaching, I’m learning my brand in addition to what type of acting roles I could go for in the future.  Classy, warm, sometimes mumsy (I get cast for a lot of mom roles), corporate, and elegant and of course, American accent, are some of the descriptions that create my brand.  I also am discovering that I do well with vintage looks,  and am I looking forward to more of this.  I want to do things outside my brand just to stretch myself, but I look most natural in my brand.

5) Learn to deal with the waiting.  In my last post I talked about the various ways of getting a job – direct booking, being put forward and casting.  The last two have an element of waiting that can be challenging.  I joked with a model friend the other day who was waiting to hear about a large photographic job that we should have an instant messaging system of ‘NO;  Short-list; or YES.’

If we got a ‘no’ right away it would be a lot simpler as usually they don’t tell you if you didn’t get it.  And you have to keep the recall, and shooting dates mentally set aside in your diary after a casting just in case.  Sometimes clients take a while to decide, sometimes they inform your agent the next day.  But that’s only if you get a recall, and then of course, if you land the job.  You never know if you have a quick client or one that needs some time.  Regardless, its challenging.

I did a job with a ‘model’ family (aka fake mom/dad/kids) and the male model has been doing this line of work for 15 years.  I’m always getting tips from more experienced models when I work with them, and his biggest advice was, ‘If you are free for a job, say “yes”, be put forward or do the casting, and then forget about it. It will only cause you unnecessary stress if you don’t put it out of your mind.’

Last week I got a recall for a fantastic job.  When I got there, only a handful of us were being seen by producers, and I saw that it was going to boil down to the ‘look’ they wanted for the job, as each short-listed candidate had a unique appearance.  I felt I did well in the audition but made the choice to give up any hope that I got the job by the weekend.  I’m learning how to manage my emotions because going on an emotional roller coaster of high hopes and then disappointment every time I cast/get a recall for a large job just leads to misery.


So to end  . . . .

I have been researching Audrey Hepburn looks for a themed beauty shoot I’m doing this week – Pintrest is fantastic for my job!  Anyhow, I stumbled across this look of hers, and it reminded me of how I really want to be in this industry and my own personal life . . . may this be a ‘look’ we all emulate.

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