I get asked all the time about how I got my kids into modeling and because others want to do the same. My answer is always to google the nearest talents agencies to where you live. Because, that’s all I know. That’s how I did it. But, I figured it was about time to get it all out there so the info is readily available for everyone who asks.
Let me first say that this is not a step-by-step guide on how to get your kid into modeling. Each state might be different along with a plethora of other variables. I am simply going to share our experiences and hope they help you along your journey. It might look a little different for you but hopefully, by just sharing the route we took, it will offer a little insight into how you can make it happen for you and your family.
Let me first give you a warning signal as to what is NOT an actual talent agency trying to represent your child. Here is the scenario we experienced once.
“Agent” approaches my husband at a kids parade and says our kids should model, hands us her business card and a time slot to “audition.”
We go to a janky hotel lobby, fill out forms, listen to an hour long presentation of how they work their industry and then have the kids “audition.”
If we want to move forward and be represented by them, we will need to pay $2,000 (per child and accompanying adult) to go to Chicago for a HUGE talent search conference, and then MAYBE get picked up by someone for a gig.
This isn’t real. Don’t be fooled. Don’t pay them money. Don’t fall into the trap. You should never have to pay this type of up front cost.
Let me tell you our REAL-LIFE great experiences and the process from here on out.
I literally googled “top talent and model agencies in Minneapolis.” (Enter your own closest big city.) I went through the list and checked each website and filled out entry forms for each place. Normally this entailed sending pictures and information for each of my children. I only did this because my oldest daughter expressed interest in doing it. But, while I was at it, I thought I would send in information for all my kids, just for kicks and giggles. I never actually thought anything would come of it or even had a deep desire to pursue this for my kids. I still don’t, but I will explain later why we still do it.
I heard back from most of the agencies I had reached out to within 1-5 weeks and all of them wanted to move forward with us. The next step was going to their buildings for them to meet the kids and for us to fill out forms to get them on their website for their clients. In all transparency, each of my kids are represented by 5 different agencies. This is great because our exposure is wider but also can be difficult because we will get contacted by multiple agencies for the same gig and have to go with the first one that contacts us. Just know, it’s totally up to you. In Minnesota, you can be represented by more than one agency. But most people only stick with one, and have a lot of success just doing it that way too.
After these first meetings, they get your kids set up in their database and this allows clients to view them on the website and also a way for the agents to refer you to their clients if they think there is a good fit for a job. Some agencies do charge $50-$100 for the ongoing maintenance of updating pictures on their website and managing the profiles. Sometimes, it is a yearly fee and sometimes, it is a one-time fee. Depends on the agency. We work with one agency who had no upfront charges at all and instead, just took $50 out of our first check from a job to cover the website fee. There should never be anything you have to pay over $100 though and you can make that back in 1 small job. (We’ve only been doing this since spring of 2018, not even a year in, and I wouldn’t even be able to count how many jobs the kids have had since then.)
Once an agency agrees to represent you, you are now available to be sent to casting calls. We usually get a phone call or e-mail notifying us that there is a client looking for a certain age range of children and if we are available for the time slot. Because we live within 15-20-minutes of downtown Minneapolis, (where most of our calls take place), it’s super easy for us to hop to and from casting calls. Sometimes we get a short notice for casting calls and other times, a good week or two heads up. They are always during the day so, with our homeschooling, it’s very convenient for us to make casting calls.
These are pretty straightforward. You go in, fill out a form, take a picture (if its for print advertising) or record a video (if its a commercial.) We are normally in and out within 15-30 minutes. You will hear from an agency if you got the job usually within a week or two. You either got booked for the job, get a call back (a second audition) or you won’t hear from your agency about it, which means you did not get the job. Don’t be discouraged, there will be plenty more opportunities. (I’m saying all this because I was totally clueless about it all a few months ago and it would have been great to have a little idea about the whole process.)
The actual jobs are different wherever you go. We’ve had people who are just really not great with kids and it makes the atmosphere not fun and actually my little Shiloh started crying on set one time because the people running the show were tense and ridgid and little ones can sense that. It almost ruined the experience for my little bright-eyed girl.
But most of our experiences have been really great. The kids always love seeing the outcome of their work. Most of the companies do not tell you when or where you can find the finished products of the shoot, so we normally just try to keep our eyes peeled. And it’s always a fun surprise. Most of my kids do print advertising. But my oldest, Makkedah, did shoot a U.S. Bank commercial and she loved having a “TV mom” as they called it. My 5th, Zion, played a part in a local movie being made that was entered into a film festival. The 4 oldest kids had a casting call for a Walmart commercial. My two oldest got a call-back for the job but didn’t end up getting the job. We still make time for the casting calls, its all part of the learning experience, but just know that you do not get paid for going to casting calls.
For the jobs that we have had, we are mostly “working” for about an hour or so. My second oldest, Samaria, once had a shoot that lasted 2 days and was about 6-7 hours each day but that was because it was a huge campaign she was a part of. The agencies should let you know what you are getting paid hourly before the job takes place and then keep into mind that your agency will take your cut, plus taxes will be taken out. The neat thing is that the agencies take care of all of this for you. They work on your behalf.
Most agencies take a 15-20% cut on all the work you do. If you get booked a job, they will take their cut and then send the rest of the check your way. This is their profit in the work you do and for managing everything for you. They will get a cut from every job you ever get from casting calls they sent you to. This is the reason why there aren’t any large up front costs.
Let me tell you some odd circumstances that perhaps you may encounter, and I hope this will ease your mind if you ever experience something similiar.
We once went to a shoot and it was for my 6 month old baby. It was her and another baby and the on-screen mom. I found out that they always book 2 babies at a time in case one of them doesn’t cooperate because… babies. The other baby went first and rocked the shoot and took the best photos. Arrow and I sat on the couch and waited for her turn to go and then the photographers came up to us and said, “Well, we already got everything we needed so you can go now.”
Waste of our time? Some would say yes. But, while we sat and hung out on a couch, my 6 month old baby got PAID. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons we do this. We set up Roth IRA (tax advantaged investment retirement) accounts for each of our children. So, each time they get paid for a booking, we add money to their accounts that we are going to continue to grow and not be taxed on for their entire lifetime. That is worth it to us to invest into their financial futures. So, yah, I’ll drive 15 minutes, sit on a couch with my baby for an hour and then drive back home if it means adding financial security to her future.
When the older kids get their paycheck, we teach them that they should give their tithe and so they give 10% of their check to our church. Then they get to spend 10% of it. The rest goes into their Roth accounts. (For the younger ones, after tithe, I put the whole check in in their account.) Through this, we get to teach them lessons about financial responsibility as well.
There were also times when we got to a shoot, got the kids in their outfits and got out on set and it was NOT happening. One time, Ro just cried and cried. Another time, Zion refused to cooperate. The people had to call the shoot and shut it down because my kids weren’t having it. That’s not a fun feeling as the mom but in both instances, the timing wasn’t right (naps were cut short and I did not have happy kids.) The people were really good about not pushing them and said that they always book two babies and two toddler for shoots because this happens often. They had gotten all the shots they actually needed with the previous kids who did their shoot before my kids got on set. So, if you find yourself in this same prediciment, do not fear. You are not alone. And hey, your kids STILL GOT PAID for being there.
In this industry, you will run into some really cranky and rude people. And you will also meet some really fantastic characters. Isn’t it that way all throughout life though? For me, it’s kind of fun. I recently got to jump in on a shoot with the kids for Target and it was so fun to see the outcome.
Besides it being fun, it creates for some really neat memories for us to look back on. We also get to teach the kids about money and tithing and saving and spending. And one of the biggest perks of all is setting our kids financial future up for them and getting a head start while they are young.
I met a mom one time who lived 3 hours away from most of her 11-year-old son’s shoot locations and they would travel all that way for just a casting call (which is just a chance to see if you will get the job and it is NOT paid.) I just don’t think that would work for us. But, because we live so close to the Twin Cities, most sites are super convenient for us to get to and I almost always say yes to a casting call if we have nothing going on because we have so much flexibility with homeschool that I don’t have to move anything around. If we lived 3 hours away, I i wouldn’t be doing it. But that was also coming from a mom who talked to me about giving her son surgery soon to get his ears tucked back more because she thought they poked out of his head too much. I’m not judging. Just stating facts.
Another thing I make sure to do is to send updated pictures of the kids to each of the agencies every few months. For instance, if you have a family photoshoot with a professional photographer, ask them to grab a few quick headshots of your kids and then send those into your agency to update their profile of the your kids. Keep it fresh!
So, there you have it. Some of our experiences with our kids being represented by talent and modeling agencies. It’s a pretty fun ride. And If its fun, I’ll most likely say YES!
I hope this was helpful and feel free to let me know if you have more lingering questions. If you are wanting to get your kids into this industry, start with googling the closest agencies to you and get their pictures sent in asap. I hope it goes well with you and I would love to hear your experiences (and see some of the experiences and prints!)