Soooo... my kids have an agent. It sounds quite ridiculous to even say, but that's the world of entertainment for ya! Whenever I post about going to a casting with one of the kids, I get lots of DMs inquiring about how people can get their kids into modeling as well. I figured I'd put together my tips on my site, so that I can direct everyone right here when I'm asked.
First and foremost, make sure your kids have the right temperament for this industry. They should be personable, easy to talk to (when they're older), have no problem with being the center of attention (photographer, producers, stylists, other models/parents & everyone else on set will be watching them), can be in another room (without you) and be fine and most importantly, photogenic (enjoys taking photos).
It's also important that you, as the parent, realize that it can be quite time consuming. Fortunately I have a very flexible position where I am able to get them to castings and shoots. Living in the same vicinity of the agency is paramount because castings are generally last minute. I've gotten them in the evening for an afternoon casting the very next day! If you can't take them, perhaps another caregiver can assist with getting them to castings.
If you're in New York, you'll need a Child Performer Permit. You can sign up for a 15-day permit initially, but you'll only be able to do that once. After that, you have to apply for a 12-month permit. Prior to sending off your 12-month permit, you'll have to open a Trust Account for your child, as all of their payments will need to be sent/deposited there. The other requirements are listed on the form itself.
Here's what I did (I'll speak mostly about Christian since I did more work for him):
- We have a DSLR camera and started taking pictures of Christian with this big camera from the day he came home from the hospital. Same with Elle. By the time he was 7 or 8 months, he knew exactly what to do when he saw that camera pointed at him. Elle is learning - more often than not, she looks directly into the lens.
- We exposed Christian to lots of different people - family, friends, neighbors. He got used to being around people he didn't immediately recognize, which made it easier for him to be on set with strangers.
- Researched all reputable child modeling agencies and started sending his snapshots in. The pictures don't need to be professional, no need to hire a photographer to take pictures of your child. Most agencies only care that you can see the child/baby clearly - no hats/glasses, etc.
- Practiced patience. Listen, I think my kids are beautiful! So I couldn't believe that I got ZERO response when I first started sending his pictures out when he was a baby. Like, NOTHING. So I'd wait 6 months and send again. Still nothing. He didn't get signed until he was 3 years old! And the agency he signed with turned out to be a scam because they asked for $$ to be listed on their website (agents should NEVER ask for money to represent you, since they get paid when you book a job - usually 20%). Of course, we didn't pay it, and shortly after (less than a few weeks), they sent an email out saying they were releasing all models because they were going out of business. HA!
- I tried sending his pics out again, but this time in addition to those same agencies, I started my search on Instagram. I searched child models and photographers who specialized in children. Often times, they would tag the child's agency. I'd find the contact info and submit. He was finally signed by Munchkin Stars Management. When Elle was born, I sent her pics over to his agent and she immediately signed her too (much easier this time around! LOL).
- Be genuine, be kind, connect with people, you never know where your next opportunity may come from. Christian was featured in a PopSugar/H&M campaign thanks to someone I met/connected with at an event, same with his Refinery29 feature.
I always check in with Christian. I constantly ask him if he wants to do this audition or that photoshoot, and he is always super excited about it. Obviously Elle can't tell me whether she likes it or not, but I will say that she is definitely learning to turn her little charm on for the camera. Check in with your kids (if they're old enough) to make sure it's something they want to do.
And now, the good stuff. I've compiled a list of agencies in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles. This is by no means ALL agencies, these are just a few. An easy way to find more would be to find these agencies on Instagram, click the little arrow under their "following" count and scroll through the similar accounts.
Please let me know in the comments if this was helpful and/or if you have any other questions that I may not have answered.