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How can I become a model?
Periodically, agencies open their doors to hundreds of local hopefuls. This is known as an "open call." You herd together in the hallways of an agency with all your competitors, you wait and wait for a turn, and when you finally do get to see someone, it seldom takes more than 30 seconds for the pros to size up what they consider to be your potential. Welcome to the world of big-league rejection. And the good news is that open calls are almost always free. Dress casually in form-hugging clothes so the agent can see what your body is like. Keep the hair simple, and the makeup naturally minimalistic. They want you to present a blank canvass to them-not your glamour look. Don't waste money on professional photos. If you want, you can just bring in a few informal snaps: full body shots (in a conservative bikini or trunks) from a few angles, one nice head shot, and a casual clothed shot.

You don't have to wait around for an open call. If you get on the phone and the agency tells you their open call is six months off, ask if you can just drop by. Don't stop at one; go around to as many of the top agencies as you can.

Several large agencies tour the country with a model search, a beauty contest with the purpose of finding the next Christy, Tyra or Claudia. As long as there's a reputable agency behind it and the entry fees aren't too extravagant (most, though not all, model search contests will have entry fees), a model search is a good way to at least meet people in the industry.

The most expensive option is to attend a modeling convention. Entry fees tend to be high, but you get the opportunity to meet representatives from several different agencies all at the same time (and the chance to learn more about the industry in general).

Once the agency gets a look at you and decides it likes what it sees, an agent will arrange for you to have portfolio pictures taken, a composite card printed, and a resume put together. Again, you must remember that you are trying to make money, not spend it, so don't pend money on portfolios until you get signed up with an agency. The agency will probably have a specific look in mind for you anyway, and they'll want to start from scratch. A modeling portfolio (book) is what you take along to modeling interviews. In your portfolio are a series of shots taken by an agency-recommended photographer, and it reflects the agency's marketing strategy for you.

What types of models are there?
There are many different kinds of models, including child models, plus-size models, and parts models (whose hands you see in all those diamond ring ads). Fashion models must usually conform to rather rigid physical criteria, but there are other models called "real-life models," who are often also actors. They are just what the name suggests: ordinary looking people used in catalogues and commercials to represent someone the average consumer can identify with.

What does it take to be a female fashion model?
You should be somewhere between 15 and 22 years old, though probably closer to fifteen. Models don't have careers that last as long as say, doctors, so agencies tend to want to invest their time in someone young.

You should be tall, long-legged, and lean. The minimum height is usually about 5'8", and average weight for a model is 108-125 lbs. These characteristics are partly aesthetic and partly practical: this type of frame looks good on the runway and in front of the camera (which, they say, adds 15 pounds); and a somewhat scrawny build drapes clothing nicely and ensures a good fit in the standard wardrobe. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course - Kate Moss is 5'7" and Gabrielle Reece is a giant 6'3" - but, in general, the closer you are to the industry norm, the better your chances.

What does it take to be a male fashion model?
Young male between the ages of 18 and 25. They won't want you to look too childish. The good news is that a man's modeling career usually lasts longer than a woman's, and since ten-year-old boys more often dream of blowing things up rather than strutting the Hugo Boss runway, this side of the biz tends to be less competitive as well.

Average dimensions for a male model are a height of 5'11"- 6'2" and a weight of 140-165 lbs. You should also be fit. On top of that you must have clear skin, perfect teeth, etc.

There is a little bit of freelancing in the business, but most models work with an agent. Your agent is responsible for getting bookings and arranging your deals. Great agents will also advise you about clothes and hair, and generally guide you through the various stages of your career.

Here are some of the top agencies (all of which are based in New York):

Model Placement Center
126 3rd Ave.
North Safety Harbor, Florida
Phone: 727-791-7764

Boss Models (mostly for male models)
1 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-242-2444

142 Greene St, 4th Floor
New York, NY
Phone: 212-219-6500

111 East 22nd Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-529-9700

IMG Models
22 East 71st Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-529-9700

220 5th Avenue, Suite 800
New York, NY
Phone: 212-989-0100

23 Watts Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-925-5100


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