Cue eye roll, am I right? It’s almost as if having representation is the real-life blue checkmark verification. These days, with social media and everyone having the ability to create their own channels and content, the art of the agency hunt has been somewhat lost. Finding a perfect match can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just getting started. (And before you land that agent, here’s how to get work without representation.)
But fear not! Through my own trial and error over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are some of my top tips:
1. Do your research.
Treat this process as you would dating. The goal is to find someone who’s a good fit for you since this is the beginning of a relationship, albeit a professional one. Start by looking at available agencies in your area by (literally) searching “modeling agencies in [your city]” online.
Once you get a decent list of suitable “mates,” you can start to delve further into each to see which ones you could see yourself with. Look at the clients and talent they currently work with and how they accept submissions. Read online reviews and check out their social media profiles, full investigation style. Would you feel proud being represented by them? If yes, then move forward!
2. Be prepared.
Before submitting or showing up to an open call, make a list of everything you could need for both. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to send out your submissions only to find that you don’t have what they’re asking for. Open calls will also require specific materials or dress codes, so make sure you know what they’d like to see before you arrive. Oftentimes, one of those things will be a portfolio or a “comp card” (composite card, also referred to as a “zed card”).
When I first started modeling, way back before the technological breakthroughs, everything was printed and brought in as a hardcopy. These days, it’s not uncommon, however, to see girls with a prepared album on their iPads.
3. Don’t spend too much before you need to.
The photos you initially submit do not need to be professional! Their purpose is to get you into a meeting with an agency. They should not be retouched or edited. Agents want to see you, “flaws” and all—not a photoshopped, virtual version. I’m not discouraging professional photos; I’m merely pointing out that there’s a more affordable option when you’re starting out. After you’re signed, your new team will advise you regarding new photos.
4. Be yourself.
I know you’ve heard this one a thousand times, but here it is again: be yourself. When you’re shooting photos to submit or showing up to an open call or casting, be exactly who you were in the waiting room. (Or maybe the person you are at home if waiting rooms make you nervous.) These agents and casting directors have already seen it all and, more importantly, you don’t know what they’re looking for. Sometimes they might not even know yet, so don’t try to figure that out for them—that’s their job. Your job is to be you!
5. Follow up.
People get busy, especially agents. So don’t be surprised or discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. After a decent amount of time, it’s completely appropriate to reach out and thank them for meeting you and ask for an update. Asking for feedback is another nice way to remind them of you. This gives you the opportunity to prove you can take constructive criticism and has the added bonus of arming you with tips to help you sharpen your skills for the future, even if it isn’t with the same agency.
And now for a secret tip: be prepared to hear the word “no.” The rejection part of this industry can be difficult, but don’t let it get you down. Remember that you are strong and beautiful just as you are, with or without representation.
I sincerely hope these tips will aid in your journey to finding an agent and taking the next step in your career!
*This post was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019. It has since been updated.
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