What Makes a Model
Everyone says your baby is beautiful. You think they're just being nice, but after even strangers insist, "Your baby should be a model," you start to think that maybe they're right. Perhaps your child's sweet smile could even fund her college education. But you don't know what's involved or whom to call. We went to the people who work at some of the country's top modeling agencies and asked them a few common questions:
Give it to me straight: What are the chances of my baby getting modeling work?
First, you need to understand that most jobs are in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. New York and Los Angeles are the centers of television, advertising, magazine, and catalog worlds, and Miami frequently hosts location shoots because of the good weather. There's work in other cities too, but mostly for local (rather than national) advertising campaigns.
Competition is fierce, but not impossible to overcome. According to Mike Buess, owner of Product, an agency in New York City that represents child models from birth through age 16, every day an agency gets a several-inches-high stack of letters and pictures from parents. Out of each day's stack, they generally want to meet two or three kids.
Lindsay Stewart, director of the children's division of Jet Set in La Jolla, California, agrees. She says that out of about 100 submissions, she'll meet about eight children and end up working with three at most.
What makes a good baby model?
Unlike supermodels, babies don't have to be perfect, says Wendy Rose, codirector of the children's division of Ford Models in New York City, which represents children from 3 months to 12 years. But they do need to have beautiful features, such as clear skin, bright eyes, great hair, and an easy smile.
But the word that comes up most often is "different." To Buess, an ideal candidate is one who is slightly exotic, not necessarily "all-American." For instance, he's found work for boys with dreadlocks or longer-than-average hair. Stewart also likes nontraditional looks, such as Asian kids with green eyes and freckles or boys with Afros.
Of course, conventionally beautiful kids are in demand too.
But there are so many beautiful kids and they can't all be models, right?
This is true. Agencies also look for "spark," even in babies. A child's personality should be so great that it shines through in a picture, Rose says. Agencies look for babies who don't just stare at the camera but look, on film, like they're embracing it -- and whether your child photographs that way is hard for you to judge yourself. You know your child's personality so well that you see it without effort. The question is, will everyone else feel drawn to your child just by looking at her photo?
If your child's picture does catch the eye of someone at an agency, the next step is a meeting with an agency representative, so she or he can see how your child engages adult strangers. Agencies are looking for a baby who has a ton of personality and is happy and smiling, says Caroline Gleason, director of the children's division of the Green Agency in Miami, which represents kids from babies through age 16. But if a baby starts crying and hugging the parent, you know she's not going to work out, says Marshall.