How to Get a Modeling Job With Your Acting Skills

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Photo Source: Unsplash courtesy Patricia Palma

When I first got started in the industry in 1984, I had no idea that there was such a thing as commercial modeling. When I heard the word “model,” I immediately thought of supermodels walking down runways. Learning about commercial modeling has changed my career and life.

Commercial vs. fashion models

Fashion models normally promote high-end designer clothes; commercial models advertise everything else.

In commercial modeling, people of all heights, weights, sizes, ages, and races are hired. I have worked with infants and people in their 80s and all ages in between. Although there are beautiful women and handsome men who are cast to work on high-end commercial modeling ads, many commercial models only need to have the ability to look like a “real” person.

Every day you see commercial models in many different types of ads. They appear in newspapers, catalogs, magazines, editorials, brochures, on posters, billboards, on the sides of buses, on packages of food items, household products, games, internet ads, etc.

Contrast that with fashion models, who start young—if a model is over 21 and has not already had success in the fashion world, there is little chance of the model finding representation. There are some exceptions to the rule, but typically, women in straight size modeling are going to be between 5 feet 9 inches and 6-feet tall and have a 34-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 34-inch hip. Male fashion models are normally 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches, and wear a size 40 regular or long jacket and have a 30–32-size waist.

How much do commercial models make?

Modeling pay rates are different from city to city and job to job. Adult commercial models can expect to make anywhere from $50 to $250 an hour or get paid a flat fee for the day, but the rates vary depending on where you are and what you are doing. And, if the ad is in a “high exposure” format, (billboards, posters, on the box of a product, internet, etc.), bonuses are normally paid.

How to use your acting skills to book modeling gigs

If the ad is for a pharmaceutical product and the model needs to show pain, feel uncomfortable or show relief, then the actor or commercial model needs to tap into all of their acting skills and not only show that look, but give the photographer many choices. All of my years of acting classes kick in during photo shoots. I treat commercial modeling jobs like any acting job. I will talk with the photographer and find out exactly what is happening with my character, figure out exactly what the character is thinking and feeling, and then transform that information into a variety of layers of emotions and expressions. And, keep this going for hours at a time. I view commercial modeling jobs as acting gigs without words.

Possessing these acting skills will allow the photographer and creative directors from ad agencies to concentrate on the technical aspects of the shoot, and not be worried if the talent can capture the look that is needed for the ad. This is why photographers love hiring actors for commercial modeling jobs.

Getting the chance to use my acting skills and get paid very well for the work is really enjoyable. And you never know how a commercial modeling job can help your career—I once did a commercial modeling job that was loved by the client so much, they decided to use me in the national TV campaign as well.

So, when you hear about a commercial modeling job, you should really think of it as an acting job…minus the words.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Aaron Marcus
Aaron Marcus has been a full-time actor for 36+ years while living in a secondary market. He has booked over 1,290 jobs. He is the author of the Amazon 100 + 5-star rated book “How to Become a Successful Actor and Model.”
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