My daughter Noemi started her modeling career when she was six months old. At first, it was something I thought about but never really considered. People would come up to us all the time when we were out and ask if she was a model or say things like, “She needs to do modeling.” So, it put a bug in my ear, and I decided to look into it more. I made sure to do lots of research before picking the top agencies to submit my daughter’s photos too. Out of the nine agencies I reached out to, eight of them sent her offers. I ended up choosing the one I felt was the best fit for her and signed. When she was 1, I got an offer from another agency that I could not pass up. A rep for the company saw her picture on IG and asked if I could contact them. They offered her representation with their company, so I ended up cutting her previous contract and signing with them.
I am pleased with my decision. My daughter has been signed with them for a little over four years now. Old Navy, For Love and Lemons (Lil Lemons), Bonds/Disney, the cover of LA Parent magazine, Fashion Nova Kids, Box Lunch, and My Little Posh Store are a few companies she worked with. The agency has recently signed my youngest daughter, Harper. She has recently booked jobs for Gap, Janie & Jack, and Crate & Barrel kids.
I am looking forward to watching my youngest grow in the industry, just like her older sister. One of the most common questions I get is about my daughter’s modeling careers and how they started. I put together many common questions I get and hopefully some helpful answers for those trying to get their kid(s) into the business.
How to get your child into modeling?
It would be best to research the top children modeling agencies in your city to avoid running across any scams. The most reputable modeling agencies for kids are in New York and Los Angeles. You can pull up their mailing info on their website and send them 4-5 headshots of your child, or you can email them. They will contact you ONLY if they want to rep your child.
What type of child is suitable for the modeling or entertainment business?
An outgoing child is always best for show business. A shy kid will have a hard time working on set with many people looking at them and giving them direction. If the child is under the age of 1, they will have a hard time if they are not open to new people around them.
What scams to look out for when signing your kid?
A kid’s modeling agency will NEVER ask for money upfront. You should never have to pay for your child to become a model. That comes after the fact when the agency takes out their percentage for jobs that your child books.
What will it cost you?
Headshots are the main thing that will cost you money. It depends on how experienced the photographer is and what rate they charge. I usually pay around $150 for my daughter’s headshots, but that can vary.
How to take good headshots?
It is important that when getting headshots done, you try to stay as natural as possible and have them look like their everyday self: no makeup, hairpieces, shirts with too many designs going on, or logos. Make sure to do a lot of shots that show happy, big smiles. Companies look for that when requesting portfolios from the agencies. When your child gets a little older, it is okay to use a little makeup in their headshots and less smiling. My daughter is almost 6, and her recent headshots are like that. Make sure you hire someone who has experience shooting headshots and preferably with children. A lot of children modeling agencies have photographers they work with and can refer you to one. Try to avoid giving your child candy as being hyper will not help get good photos and make them more distracted.
What to expect at auditions?
Auditions can cause anxiety but try to make it fun and not put too much pressure on your child. Kids can feel tense when you are tense, so it is best to act like no big deal. Every company is different in its audition process. When my daughter was under the age of 3, auditions would go fast. They try to get them in and out at this age. Usually, they take a quick pic, and you will be on your way. Once she got a little older, her auditions consisted of more photos and even a few questions. Also, depending on what the audition is for, they may even videotape your child doing or saying something.
How to manage if your kid is under the age of three?
The most important thing when going to auditions with my daughter when she was a baby was adequate sleep. Before showing up to your child’s audition, ensure that they have had a nap or good enough rest for the day. Babies do not understand what is going on, nor do they care about an audition’s importance. So, if your child did not get a good enough nap beforehand, you can expect them not to corporate as well as you would have wished. Also, sometimes there can be a short wait between you and the next person. I would bring a favorite toy, snack, or something to keep them busy and quiet. Also, if there is a parent that your child is more comfortable with, they should be the ones to go into the audition to help ease any anxiety.
What are some things you will need?
Make sure your child’s work permit is always up to date. They expire every six months, so it is best to mark it in your calendar a few weeks before it expires, so you remember to get it updated. By law, your child cannot work without a work permit. If it is not up to date and your child books a job, they can lose out on the job if you are not current.
Make sure your child’s headshots are always up to date. For babies, you do not always have to pay to get headshots done. You can use your phone or camera to take simple headshots to update their photos. Babies grow so fast, so they have to have theirs updated more often. If your child is older, you can probably get away with updating their photos every six months to a year.
Keep all their info up to date on all their casting profiles. Most children modeling agencies will have you make an account with LA Casting and even Casting Frontier. LA Casting and Casting Frontier are sites where companies needing to cast talent will come to view portfolios/resumes. You can also set up a premium account to directly submit your child for specific projects that fit their criteria.
Open a Coogan Trust account. A Coogan is critical. You will not begin work until they can confirm that your child has a Coogan Trust account open. A Coogan account protects child entertainers by putting a percentage of what they make directly into their trust for them, and they will not be able to touch it until they are 18 years old.
Print vs. Commercial?
Print is more straightforward than commercial. Print is easier in the sense that you come in, take photos, and leave. Commercials can be a dragged-out process. They can also take all day long and multiple days. If your child is under a certain age, they cannot be on set longer than the legal amount of hours. However, that does not make it any easier. The pay for commercials is usually higher than print because it requires more work, and you will also get paid every time the commercial airs. Print, you have a greater chance of getting booked again with the same company. Some companies like to switch up their kid(s), but a few also want to use the same kid(s).
How much does the agency get?
Most agencies take a 20% cut of whatever your child makes. A percentage will go directly into your child’s Coogan account, and the rest mailed in a check made out to them, or you can set up a direct deposit. I have a direct deposit set up, so everything my children make goes directly to their Coogan accounts.
Do you get to keep the clothes?
The simple answer is No. My daughter has shot for many companies, and only one company has given her clothes to keep. A majority or almost all of them will not gift your child the outfits they wore in the shoot. Some companies like to give your child gifts and stuff to take home, but I would not bet on it.
Best advice you can give about your child modeling?
Please do not take it too seriously. Make it fun for your child. If you force them to do it, then it takes the fun out of it. Your child is a kid. You must remember that. Child modeling is not a job or something they should do if they do not want it. Kids should be kids. They only have such a short time being kids and enjoying their childhood before they are adults and enter the real world of bills, stress, and life. Let me know what you think!
Do you need an agent?
The simple answer is yes. Agents are a great tool to get your child’s name out there. Being signed with an agency helps your child because they will present them to companies looking for kids that fit your child’s description. You can also hire a manager who will do the same.
But do not feel 100% obligated to get an agent. I have booked my daughter many jobs outside of the agency. It is possible to manage them on your own. But I do think it is easier with children modeling agents. If you book your child a job while signed to an agency and the agency did not get them the job, you are still obligated to let them know, and they will handle the rate.