So you have decided to cave in and try becoming a supermodel because people have always told you that you should become a model. You’ve been eyeing models in catalogues and magazines and on billboards, with a small voice in your head saying, “That should be me”.
You’re imagining, one day, you’re a lanky girl devouring a big serving of eba. The next, you are the highest-paid model in the world, stalking the runways of Lagos, Johannesburg, New York, Paris and Milan; yours is the face of everything from Dolce and Gabbana to MTN to Samsung. It can happen to you .
Yes and no. There are many, many steps in between eba and Milan Fashion Week. And even for the most beautiful young woman, the odds are far better at the “Baba Ijebu” stand. Yet, year after year, some women do make it. It isn’t impossible. So how does a pretty girl go from nobody to supermodel?
Let’s face it, though the industry can offer lucrative work and glamorous settings, the industry is notoriously tough to break into. Long hours, stiff competition and big, impersonal casting calls are among the ‘less-glitzy’ aspects of the business. Fear not, I’m pretty sure most top supermodels felt that way at the beginning of their career. Matter of fact I felt the same way (though I didn’t end up being a top supermodel).
Things are even harder in the Nigerian modeling industry. Before you can get that lucky break you must have gone through a lot, unless you are Olajumoke, “the ex-bread-seller”. Not everybody can get that lucky. Matter of fact out of a 100 aspiring models, only 10 end up becoming professional models. Then out of those 10, only about 0.8 end up becoming supermodels. Crazy statistics right, I know, I’d be scared and discouraged too if I was the one.
You are perhaps pondering…..”what can I do”? You are completely clueless about the first thing to do to get your foot inside the door of the modeling world. A handful, like Olajumoke, take the express route. We all know the story of how the regular bread seller was simply at the right place at the right time.
“It’s the girl who never thought she could who gets discovered. The prettiest girl around doesn’t always make the best model,” says Ivan Bart, a top agent with IMG Models, which reps Bundchen, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss.
What you can do is to set out on your journey to kickstart your career as a supermodel with a solid plan. Don’t just start thoughtlessly and expect thing to work out eventually. You have to know what you want and strategize on how you are going to get it.
So I took some time to do some research and come up with some dependable ways to make sure the increase in your chances of success. You may want to grab a cup of coffee,a pen and a jotter.
This guide is two thousand, eight hundred words long, you may want to bookmark this read carefully and even come back to it for future reference.
Disclaimer: these steps do not guarantee that you would end-up being a supermodel. They only increase your chances compared to other aspiring models who start out without a strategy. How soon you become a supermodel ultimately depends on you.
1. Educate Yourself About The Industry
Research! It’s safe to say that one of the most basic things to do when you want to set out in something new is to do research. Learn as much as you can from watching models either on TV or live shows. Read blogs, guides and articles about modeling. Doing these will help you improve vital skills (like posing and posture) and better understand how the industry works (such as how to find an agent).
You should also research reputable agencies that place models in high-profile places, such as magazines and fashion shows.
2. Getting Parental Approval
If you are under eighteen, the first thing you need to is to discuss with your parents before signing with an agency. Modeling can mean long shoots, staying out late, wearing ‘less appropriate’ clothes (not in my words) and so many more. Even as a young adult (eighteen years and above) it’s advisable for you to let your parents know that you are about to embark on a journey to become a model. Getting the approval of your parents can go a long way to ease your journey as an aspiring model. Knowing that you have their support is a psychological boost for you.
3. Choose a Market
In modeling, there are different markets, and selecting the one that you are most suitable for will have a major effect on your success. The main markets are for Fashion and commercial models.
Fashion modeling is quite broad and it’s divided into several other categories. This is the most exclusive and toughest of all the markets for a model to get into, much less succeed in. Fashion models are almost always tall, young, and skinny. Furthermore, there are “size requirements” for fashion models, and exceptions are hardly made in terms of that. While there is no agreed-universal “fashion-industry size-standard”, the size requirements in fashion modeling are normally as follows:
- Female Fashion Models:
- Model Height Requirement: 5’9” to 6”.
- Model Measurement Requirement: 34-24-34. (There are exceptions within one inch, and perhaps two, of this standard. Anything beyond that is usually unlikely to be considered.)
- Age Requirement: 16-24 years old.
- Size Requirement: 0-4.
- Weight Requirement: 105-130 lbs, directly proportional to height
- Male Fashion Models
- Height Requirement: 5’11” to 6’2”.
- Weight Requirement: 140-165 lbs, directly proportional to height.
- Measurement Requirement: Waist between 29” and 32”. Shirt size between 15-15 ½ neck, sleeve size between 32 and 34. Jacket size between 40 and 42.
- Age Requirement: 18-25 years old.
EDITORIAL FASHION MODELING:
These models are the ones you find in the editorial spreads of pages of famous fashion magazines. An Editorial model has to fit the requirements of a “Fashion Model” (listed above) to be considered for this market.
FASHION CATALOGUE MODELING:
A little less constrictive than fashion modeling in terms of requirements. Although, catalogue modeling still has stiff standards nevertheless, and is also tough to get into. Catalogue models are the ones you see in the clothing catalogues, posing in a variety of outfits. Normally, only female models between 5’8” and 6’1” will find work here. Male models are usually between 5’10” and 6’2”.
Models that walk ‘the catwalk’ or runway; a “live model.” Runway models are hired to use their bodies as a means to display the fashion garments of a specific clothing designer. If you want to be a runway model, you should be tall (5’9” and up for women, 5’11” and up for men), slender, have measurements that fit the standard clothing size, and know how to walk the runway.
Commercial modeling is sort of the catch-all for all that isn’t fashion and isn’t glamour. It is vast and diverse. The physical requirements can vary greatly. There are really no height or size requirements for a commercial model. So even if you are dying to be a fashion model, but simply do not fit the size requirements for mainstream “fashion modeling”, you can still find work and book great jobs as a “commercial fashion model”, doing fashion print and things of that nature.
Not interested in being a commercial fashion model? No problem. This category of modeling accommodates different types of looks: from the girl-next-door, to middle-aged men, to those with very “unique/interesting” faces. Most agency models work in this market. Commercial models work different jobs, such as: magazines, catalogues, television shows, print advertisements, campaigns, magazines, trade shows, and much more. The pay is decent but not to the level of the top fashion models. Also, the average commercial model tends to find work less often. It’s very suitable as a part-time job.
The purpose of commercial modeling is to sell something – a product, service, or idea.
I’d advise anyone to start with this market if you’re finding the other markets more difficult to break into.
Glamour modeling is more about a model’s appeal, beauty, and body than anything else. Models in this category are considered very pretty; able to book work simply by being attractive, a nice body, and having a sort of “sex appeal”. While there are no height or size requirements, glamour models do have to be at least 18 years old.
Glamour models are usually hired to appear in swimsuit, bikini, lingerie, and form-fitting attire. Often times they will find work in magazines, music videos, calendars, etc. They can find work as a freelance model, and they can also find other work through modeling agencies as a print model, commercial model, or promo model.
PROMO MODELING / PROMOTIONAL MODELING:
A promotional model, also known as a promo model, is a model that is hired to represent a brand, product, or service. This group of modeling does not have a height or weight requirement; thus making it easier to get into promo modeling than it is to get into many other types of modeling. While there are no height/weight requirements, there are other general requirements for booking paid promo work: a great attitude, outgoing nature, a nice smile, and the ability to easily adapt/learn.
Live modeling designed to drive consumer demand for a product or brand. It can range from representing a company at a trade show to handing out samples in a shopping mall or appearing on behalf of an alcohol brand at a bar. A promotional model needs to be very outgoing and have a great personality.
Spokesmodel: A form of promo modeling in which the model acts as the face of a brand. They tend to be paid well and usually travel around countries to advertise said brand.
Fitness models are toned, in-shape, healthy, and have good muscle tone. There are no size/height requirements, but you just have to be in shape! There are modeling agencies with “fitness modeling” departments. Fitness models seeking representation should focus on these first, but fitness models can also be self-represented.
Glamour Nude: Playboy and Pin-up Calendar style modeling.
Artistic Nude: Posing nude for an artist for the purposes of creating art.
Erotic Nude: Nude modeling that is artistic yet sexual in theme. Not pornographic.
You have to consider deeply if you want to become a nude model. Please do not be pressured by your agent into this. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, just don’t do it, else you’d end up regretting it.
BODY PARTS MODELING:
Hair: Hair models have gorgeous healthy hair.
They are used for hair product ads and to show different hairstyles in hair magazines or at hair shows.
Legs and Feet:
Leg and feet models have long well-formed legs. They can be used in ad for pantyhose or anything that would need an image of good legs.
Hands: Hand models have long graceful hands and impeccable nails. They are usually used in hand-creams or wristwatch ads or any other image that requires a pair of photogenic hands.
These model are also known as “Full figured models. These are models that do not fit the size requirements for mainstream modeling. They weigh more, have fuller figures, and have pretty faces. They can be hired as catalog models for plus-sized clothing brands, among many other job opportunities.If you are interested in Plus-sized modelling, you need to check if the modeling agency you’re applying to has a “Plus-Size” division.
Acting is actually a form of modeling also. Playing a role on television in an advertisement for a product, service, or idea. There is no specific requirement to be cast as an actor; generally, the requirements depend on the director involved.
I’ll be talking more about the various markets of modeling we have more extensively in another post
4. Create a portfolio
A model’s portfolio is very important. It includes pictures and past work, and is the first thing casting agents, brands, or designers will look at, to decide if they want to work with you.
If you’re just starting out as a model, your portfolio, also known as a book, will be sparse. In time and with success, it will expand. For now, though, ask a friend to take a few snapshots of you to give agencies an idea of your look. Your pictures might not be up to professional standards, but try to use a nice camera and make sure the lighting is flattering.
What the pictures should look like will depend on the market you’re targeting. No matter what market you want to work in, your portfolio should include a few headshots, just of your face from various angles, but if you’re going for commercial modeling, make sure you include a decent amount of smiling shot but any other type of modeling should have an equal or larger amount of straight-faced ones. Then make sure to include some full-length shots; agencies usually like some of these to be swimsuit shots, but again, it depends on the market. For glamour models, swimwear shots are obviously a must.
Once you have a good set of pictures, put them together in a portfolio and make sure to include a page with your stats in this book, too: this should list your height and all your other measurements, along with your hair color and eye color. This is called a composite card
It is advisable to send pictures in their raw format (no photo-touching), hardly any makeup, and simple hair styles. Modeling agencies hate Photoshopped pictures, makeup, fancy hair styles, or overdone looks.They want to see you in the raw to see if you could transformed into a variety of looks. Remember, you’re pretty just as you are, so let those agencies see you for you! Most importantly, no Glamour Shot photos!
5. Find and Submit to agencies
The best thing you can do for yourself is to find a good agency to work with. Agencies should not ask for money up front, or be dodgy in terms of signing anyone possible, which could mean that they run off with the models’ earnings later. A good agency should understand your personal needs as a model, lift you up. They should also never ask you to put yourself in a dangerous or compromising situation.
6. Keep Your Values
Many girls actually do not intend on compromising their values, but are usually strong armed by “circumstances” and end up doing so. Don’t ever sacrifice yourself to be a model. The modeling world can be laced with drugs, alcohol, sex-trades, rape, greed and more if you get in with the wrong crowd, which is easy to do when you’re looking for a quick route to fame and fortune. Do not do anything it takes to get to the top. I can promise you that you’ll regret it later. Outside of local modeling gigs, most outlets for modeling lead to sketchy, compromising situations. Know your values and stick to your guns! On the other hand, the right agencies will honor your values and can lead you to a great career.
7. Be Aware
A very important tip for becoming a model (or a supermodel in this case) is to be aware of what you’ll face.
Know that other girls can be cut-throat, the wrong agencies may ask you to sacrifice your morals, integrity or beliefs just to obtain certain photos. Oh did I mention that it can be a very tiring job. So yes there’s more to the world of modeling than the glamour you see on the pages of magazines or billboards.
Also be aware that the idea of modeling is not to give you fame, but instead to create a certain wanted look by photographers and companies.
You may be asked to cut or dye your hair another colour, wear an outfit you don’t like, or spend endless hours traveling to the right photo shoot location just for one shot.
You may also be on set for anywhere from 8-12 hours or even more.
Know ahead of time that the point of using a model is to create the right photo.
Many photographers, agencies and product campaigns put the photo goal ahead of the model’s needs.
8. Keep Looking For Exposure and Experience
Finding a decent and suitable agency can be a long process. It may take a while for someone to see your true potential. Don’t let that discourage you! In the meantime, look for other ways to get exposure and experience.
Make friends with other models, so you can get infos on castings and even tips.
Be careful of scams! There are many “modeling faux “agencies” out there. They’ll promise to make you a star but they really just want your money. In general, if they ask for money up-front, you don’t want to work with them! Therefore, always be skeptical and make sure to fully check out anyone you’re thinking of working with on your way to the top.
Have any of you modeled in the past? If you have, do you have any tips to offer other F and F Fashion readers? Do these seem like the right steps to take? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Pictures by Redwine Pictures!
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