Agencies and managers are different and represent models in different ways.
An agent or a modeling agency representing you should be getting you work in your chosen field, or in the area they believe you can work in and you have agreed to. Be that modeling or acting, and this can be any area from runway and print work, to TV commercials or TV hosting.
It is important to find out if an agency is right for you, as well as them seeing if you fit their clientele, area of expertise or have a look they have lacking in their current ‘books’. Not every agency is going to be right for you, nor will you be right for every agency, so the most important thing to do first is research which agencies suit your look, age, height and the area you want to move your career in. After that and seeing if you seem to fit what they may be looking for you should do a ‘walk in’ or send off your photographs online.
Most agencies are geared towards fashion, runway, commercial and print models, as well as acting and TV commercials. Different cities have differing types of work, as are certain ‘looks’ more sought after in some cities and countries than others. That means if you are serious about modeling; you may have to move! Do not expect to get work if you are in a small town in middle America. You need to move to where the work is; for it will not move to you.
If you are more of a glamour model, chances are you wont find agencies to suit you. Modeling agencies for glamour models are few and far between – with more being based in the United Kingdom than in the U.S.A.
A common misconception about agencies is that you have to have a portfolio ready before you are signed. You do NOT need to have a current portfolio before seeing an agent. An agents job, in part, is to help you with your portfolio and guide you in gaps in your ‘book’ in order to portray you correctly, and to your full potential as a model to clients. However, having a full portfolio does not hurt, just be sure to still be prepared to continue shooting new material if you join a new agency who feel you have some images lacking in your book, and indeed to continue to update your portfolio throughout your career to constantly update your work/book or look.
Money and scams are prevalent in many big cities with many agencies posing to help you work as a model but not really acting as an agent should. There are more of these ‘agencies’ in bigger cities such as Los Angeles and New York, but other cities too can have more scamming type agents. They do this by taking money upfront. The way agencies should work is take a percentage of your earnings (usually 10-20%) after they have started to get you work. You do not need to pay to join an agency.
However do not be fooled into thinking that the agencies will not cost you money at some stage, because they will. You need to be prepared to pay for composite cards, test shoots and upfront travel costs to get to and from castings and auditions. Overseas agencies may give you this money first, but at some stage it will be taken out of your wages. Some agencies will pay you a per diem for food, as well as flights to them (if you are being signed by a foreign agent), but you will need to pay those costs back at some stage too. Usually these costs are taken from your pay checks once you start working and this is something you should check.
Managers are generally only needed once you have reached a certain level of status in your field. They will not only represent you to clients, but they will look after your personal appearances, organize other parts of your work life, negotiate deals and help in your personal life as well as future career goals. Many people pose as managers who just want to control models lives. Its best to avoid a manager until you really need one and are at the point in your career where one will be useful to you and work for you.
Many glamour models get managers after they attain a certain level of ‘fame’ and attend night clubs, events and signings as a ‘celebrity’ or ‘personality’ and are known for themselves as well as the work they do. These models usually get inundated daily with hundreds of emails from fans and find it difficult to manage their own hectic schedules and work life. Until you obtain this notoriety I do not recommend a manager unless you are unable to manage yourself. Please note managers cost money or also take a percentage of your earnings.
If you’ve enjoyed The Modeling World Explained: Part One, be sure and tune in to next weeks edition: TFP.