So You Want To Be A Model? August 24 2016
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has brought many important issues to the forefront. One of which is the rarely talked about but ubiquitous problem of modeling scams. Trump Model Management has recently come under fire for its unscrupulous labor practices but, unfortunately, this is neither new nor rare among modeling agencies.
Many moons ago, I tried to get signed to a modeling agency. Some of them just wanted to sell me overpriced photo shoots and classes, one offered me a sketchy contract, and the other cautioned me to "watch [my] weight." The larger and well-known agencies told me that if I grew a few more inches by age 18, I should contact them again. At 5'6" and 120 lbs, I was considered too short and too fat to be a professional model (luckily things are changing). This is why I was a target for some common modeling scams. I didn't fit the bill for a model who would get a lot of bookings and thus make money for the agency, so the agencies tried to sell me a dream through expensive photo shoots and classes. Luckily, my parents didn't fall for it and even though I was disappointed, it was a good learning experience on how to discern organized corporate scams that exploit people's dreams.
Chris Hansen did a fantastic exposé on Barbizon Modeling School, which, during my quest to become a model, told my mom in reference to me: "We want her", but then asked my parents to buy some photography sessions. I also want to mention that the Barbizon reps made it clear that we had to use their photographers in order to get signed, which is a red flag. My mom muttered under her breath that: "If they really wanted you, they'd provide photos free-of-charge." She politely declined and we left.
The bottom line is that if an agency believes that they will make money off of you, then they will provide photos and training for free. Agencies get a return on their investment in you through taking a percentage of the money that you earn through bookings. However, if the agency reps don't think that they will make money off of you through bookings, then they will get money from you in a different way.
If you desire to get agency representation for your modeling career, all that you need to do is email close up and full body photos to agencies with your height, weight, age, hair color, bra size (if applicable), and eye color (back in my day, I was sending self-addressed stamped envelopes with a headshot, stats, and a full body shot...I feel old). If you do get an offer, be sure to have an attorney or someone who knows the business look over the contract before you sign and you should NEVER pay the agency any money up front.
Unfortunately, people with dreams are seen as gullible and there are many industries that exploit this. It doesn't make sense to pay money to work for somebody, so be leery of businesses that ask you to do so.