You’re shopping at Wal-Mart with your 12-year-old daughter when a woman hands you her card. She’s a scout for child models and thinks your kid may have what it takes. You always knew your daughter was pretty enough to be in pictures—and now a professional thinks so too! But before you tell the grandparents, says Ed Sliney, CEO of Model Club in Boston, you should make sure this isn’t an elaborate ruse to get you to spend money on modeling classes or head-shot photographs.
“A legitimate agency will never ask for money up front for any reason, even including photos,” says Melissa Maki, director of the children’s division of Maria Deli Talent, in San Francisco. California. However, the company may eventually tell you that you’ll need to have head shots of your child (at a cost of around $300). If it does, a place that’s on the up-and-up won’t insist that you use a particular photographer or conveniently have one on its premises. One guarantee that an agency is trustworthy: affiliation with the Screen Actors Guild. To check, visit www.sag.org
Once you’re satisfied that the agency is legitimate, your next move is to call and schedule the interview. You’ll be asked to bring some photos, but at this early stage, flattering snapshots pulled from your family albums are fine. “What we’re looking for in this ten-minute meeting is how confident, outgoing, and enthusiastic the child is,” says Sliney. For her real personality to shine through, your daughter should wear clothes that are nice but comfortable. “Think first-day-of-school outfit,” advises Maki.
Finally, if all goes well and the agency offers to represent your child, it’ll explain the terms (you may or may not be asked to sign a contract). Most agencies take a 10 percent commission on the jobs your child gets (and it’s your responsibility to take her to the casting calls). GOOD LUCK!
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