Working as a Model
If my child is hired by an agency, how often will he work?
You may go to dozens of castings before your child gets a paying job. These go-sees can be brutal, with anywhere from two to 200 kids waiting in line. Whoever is doing the hiring (a clothing company, a magazine) will snap a Polaroid of your child and may ask if you have an additional picture on hand. Every once in a while, your child will be asked to try on an outfit, but usually the whole process (after you've waited your turn) is over in a minute.
What kind of work do baby models do?
The bread-and-butter work is for catalogs, store circulars, and in-store advertising posters. In New York City, there's more of the "prestige" work for fashion campaigns and magazines. In Los Angeles, there's lucrative work in commercials, television, and movies. But even smaller cities occasionally get national attention; in Scottsdale, Arizona, Marshall has gotten kids into everything from Honda commercials to the movie Jerry Maguire.
This could at least help me start my baby's college fund, right?
Don't get your hopes up. Most child models make very little money. Something as exciting (if we may say so!) as the cover of American Baby pays about $50 an hour. The rates for magazine and catalog photo shoots go up to $75 an hour, but remember that a baby can only work an hour or two a day, and not every day -- plus the agency takes a 10- to 20-percent cut as commission.
High-end catalogs and print advertisers may pay more. In Los Angeles, big companies such as Gap Kids and Target can pay $125 an hour, says Stewart, and her agency tries to book babies for a minimum of two or three hours.
The scale rises with movies and television. Movie work pays about $3000 a week, but you don't get any extra money if the movie does well. Babies are just starting out, so there are no negotiations, says Stewart.
Television commercials, on the other hand, are highly lucrative. You get $500 for your session fee -- the actual filming -- residuals based on when and where the commercial is aired, Stewart explains. Residuals are additional paychecks. A local commercial playing on a cable station won't earn much, but a commercial that airs on a network, especially during prime time, can earn your child $10,000 to $25,000! Just keep in mind that a commercial includes one or two children, whereas a catalog has dozens, so getting commercial work is that much harder.
Even if it never pays off, modeling is still fun, isn't it?
Babies are generally happy on sets as long as a relaxed parent is with them. But as kids grow older, their interest may wane. Parents, too, often burn out. Just to get to a casting call, which pays nothing, parents often have to free up their whole day, fight traffic, pay for parking, and then entertain their kids while they wait in line, points out Gleason.
Most of the kids who do it really love it, and that's the best part -- seeing them enjoy the work, Rose says. It is work, but kids don't seem to know that. They're just having a good time. Just remember to let the kids lead the way. Buess advises that you look at it as something to add to their childhood -- but never let it become their whole childhood.
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