Hi Bridget, hope all well. If my daughter was to find herself being approached to work in modelling, what would be the key pieces of advice/guidance you would give to her parents? Many thanks.
Hi! Navigating the modeling world as a parent can be extremely confusing and tricky. My parents did a great job of protecting me as a teenager (thanks mum and dad!) and they traveled with me to every job until I was 18 years old. I am very thankful that they did this now; it takes a lot of the stress off you and saves you from any situation that you may be uncomfortable with as a young female model. As a parent you have to be smart, use your instinct with people and keep involved as much as is acceptable.
1. Make sure your daughter has a good mother agent.
This is the most important point. If your daughter has a good mother agent, then she will be well taken care of. Your mother agent is your first agent, and they place your daughter with her agencies in each market/city. I have an independent mother agent (not affiliated with specific modeling agencies), and he travels with all his young models. He makes sure there is no nudity on set for his underage girls, he helps them with their castings, he makes sure they are eating well – he basically takes care of them when the parents can’t be around. Make sure your daughter has someone like this in her team; it is the most important factor in ensuring her safety. I still rely on my mother agent when I am having a tough time; when I am burned out and need a few days to myself, when I don’t feel up to a job, or when something happens that I don’t like. An independent mother agent is not assigned to any agency, and thus has no affiliations with other people in the industry. They work for you and your daughter only. (FYI - I work with Joe Marino at New Scouting Management)
2. Do your research.
Your mother agent will be the one placing your daughter with her agencies, and you will be going to a round of meetings of suitable agencies. Pay close attention to the vibe of the bookers at the agencies – are they happy, honest people? Or does your instinct tell you they’re a little off? Keep in mind that they will probably want to sign your daughter and will promise you the moon and stars. So every interaction you have with them, keep it in perspective. Spend a little time online googling the agencies. Check if there have been any lawsuits over money and any trouble with models leaving agencies. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
3. Go with your daughter to set.
When your daughter is underage, always have someone on set with her. Either your mother agent or yourself. It is good in the early days for you to go with her, just so you can see what actually happens on set. Modeling shoots are usually quite boring for the people not involved, and very tame, so it helps to see this with your own eyes. If your daughter has a job that requires her to travel, go with her. You will usually have to pay your own way, but it will help your daughter ease into this world. When you are on set, check in with your daughter, meet the team, and then stay out of it. Don’t go around to the hair and makeup people asking questions, don’t hover over the photographer (watch the first shot then get out) and don’t get in anyone’s way. Be subtle when making sure your daughter’s outfits are ok. Everyone here is doing a job, and nobody wants a stage mum/dad. This is your daughter’s career, and you are here for her. Do check in with your daughter at suitable times, to make sure everything is ok.
4. Check in with your daughter in life.
If after a few jobs your daughter isn’t vibing modeling, make sure you are aware of it. Modeling is not for everyone, and if you hate it, do not do it. It isn’t worth the pain! Make sure you and your daughter are on the same page, and never ever force her to continue if she doesn’t like it.
5. Instill good eating and workout habits.
Newsflash – models are thin! Eating disorders and bad body image run rampant in this industry. Luckily the trend towards fitter girls is real. But I believe that good body image starts at home. If she gets told to lose weight, then work with her in a healthy way to teach her about eating well. Don’t get caught up in any trendy diet, and do not dog her and force her to eat a certain way. Educate, lead by example, and show her ways to stay in shape. Do not make this aspect into deprivation and reward; that does not go anywhere good. Teach good workout habits young, they will do her the world of good. And again – no crash diets. That will set her on a cycle of restricting and bingeing. Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
6. Maintain a polite but firm contact with her agents.
My favorite agents have been the ones I have a good relationship with, and they are the ones I have worked the best with. Agents are people too (?!) – so get to know your daughters. Have meals with them, talk to them, and learn about them. Don’t get stage parent vibes and complain about lost jobs; as a model, you probably book about twenty percent of your options, and even less in the early days, so be patient and pay attention.
7. Look at all the money coming in and out.
Teach your daughter about taxes, expenses and keeping tally of pay stubs. She will hopefully start earning a lot of money fast, and that needs management. Always read agency statements, and make sure she learns this skill too.
8. Realize that nothing is certain in this industry.
Some careers take years to take off, others burn bright then fizzle out, and some are slow and steadily consistent. My career falls into the first and last category. I have learned to believe nothing, hope for nothing, and always be pleasantly surprised. But in the early days my parents and I were promised the sun and nothing really came of it. Manage your expectations, and teach your daughter to do so also.
9. Just be there for her.
This industry can suck. You get rejected a lot, and it is all based on your looks. You want your daughter to feel comfortable enough to come to you if she suffers a particularly bad hit, and to talk about it. Unfortunately she will probably get some mean things said to her face about her appearance. So make sure she talks to you about it, and help her through it.
As a parent you are a support, so that when she is ready, she can take care of herself. I know you want to minimize damage and hurt to your children but at the end of the day, you learn and grow from your past mistakes and hurts. My parents protected me as best they could, and when the time was right, I stepped out on my own. But they were always there for a 3am phone call from a foreign country when I couldn’t sleep, or when my bankcard wasn’t working, or when the anxiety was just too much for me and needed to come home. Modeling is an amazing venture if it works for you, well worth the pain. I have traveled to some incredible places, made great money, and made life long friends. As long as you are always there for your daughter NO MATTER WHAT, without judgment or anger, no matter what teenage angst she throws at you, and unconditionally love her, you will all be fine. That is what being a parent is all about anyway right!