Child modelling and acting in Singapore: How to help your kid break into the modelling and acting industry

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We’re all guilty of flicking through a glossy mag and proclaiming our own offspring FAR cuter than the kids in the ads, and chances are most of us have dabbled with the idea of getting our dimpled darlings into acting or modelling here in Singapore. But what’s it really like putting your little one into the spotlight? All three of my kids have tried their hands at a spot of modelling and acting, and we’ve certainly learnt a few things along the way. Turns out being gorgeous isn’t the only thing necessary to break into the industry – to be really successful you need a top-notch attitude (kids AND parents), a bucketload of resilience and a great casting agent to navigate you through the trials and tribulations of your child modelling mission… Strike a pose, people!

Not just a pretty face
Good models, both adult and children alike, are not judged on looks alone: temperament and personality are going to be just as important to success, and even if your child has the face of an angel, there won’t be bookings if they are uncomfortable in front of the camera, ill at ease speaking with strangers, and reluctant to take direction. Mini-models absolutely need to show an interest in the business, and it’s crystal clear in auditions and castings when a child is there because mum wants them to be there more than they want to be there themselves. Before you start signing your kiddos up left, right and centre of the catwalk for a modelling career, do consider whether:-

  • Your child is generally outgoing
  • Will your little one take directions from strangers?
  • Is your kid able to pay attention for possibly lengthy periods of time?
  • Does your child actually want to be a model? Or is it you who wants your child to be a model? If your kid is not keen, then the chances are they will not have the drive necessary for getting jobs booked.

Personality comes through on camera, and so agents are looking for children who are not only photogenic, but who also bring something special to a captured moment. Whether the shoot is photography or film, the job will go to the child who performs the best in the casting audition, and not necessarily to the prettiest face. Given this, you should also consider how well your child is equipped to handle disappointment. The industry is notoriously competitive and the chances are that you, and ultimately your child, will get a lot of knock-backs before a big fat yes makes it all worthwhile. My youngest couldn’t care less if he doesn’t bag a job, but my older two take it more to heart. If you little one tends to get easily deflated then the auditions can be quite a tough gig when they don’t pan out. Ironically it is the younger one who scores the most jobs: his confidence makes him a popular pick at castings.

Singapore’s next supermodel?
The proper course to follow, of course, if you are serious about your children doing some modelling or acting, is to sign up with a casting or modelling agency. Your first contact with an agency should be by mail or email. Send two or three colour snaps of your child and try and include one full-body, and one head shot. They do not have to be professionally photographed. Within your covering email/letter make sure you include your child’s full name (and yours), age, hair and eye colour, skin tone, clothing size and, of course, your contact details.

A good agency will be in touch within a week or so with either an invitation for your child to meet with them to take things further, or else a polite rejection. The knock-backs are hard, but it does NOT mean that your child is not going to make a model, it could just be that they do not have the look that particular agency is looking for.

What can you do to help your child break into the industry?
The agency will not just be weighing up your child’s personality and style, but they will also be putting you under the microscope too! Commitment from parents is just as important as how your kids look and perform in front of a camera. The agency will be checking that you are happy to chauffeur your small super models around Singapore for castings and bookings, and also that you are the kind of parent who will get the best from your kiddo once that camera is rolling – encouraging the kids on set is part and parcel of life as a model’s mum! A committed parent with a charismatic child is the perfect package to an agency when it comes to signing talent.

Timing is also another factor to take into consideration: Most shoots and castings will happen during the week, which inevitably means that your young superstar will need to miss school (if they are old enough). Likewise, if you are a working parent then you will also have to negotiate time off. Not ideal, so do think long and hard about this level of commitment before embarking on the modelling journey.

Modelling has been great for my daughter’s confidence. Image courtesy of Sugarlight Photography

The rewards
It’s fair to warn you that even if your child gets bookings galore, the money is not going to see you retiring to an island in the South Pacific anytime soon! My own kids have had a mixed bag of success so far, and it’s the little one who has had the bigger breaks and therefore the heftier pay-outs (yep: he has more money in his bank account than I do!), but unless you get booked for a big client, pay is generally pretty low-ball – and in some cases work will be in return for products (and glory!) Is it worth it? For us the journey has been an experience that has given my three heaps more confidence and a lot of laughs (and occasional tears) along the way. My youngest has a natural flair for performing, but my older two are about ready to hang up their catwalk shoes. But we do have some very pretty pics to show for their efforts!

Which agency should I use?
A good starting block for deciding which agency to use is good ol’ fashioned word of mouth.  Amongst your friends and Facebook support groups, there are bound to be parents whose little ones have sashayed down a catwalk or posed for a picture with one agency or another. Location of the agency is another important factor – generally your kids will have their first auditions for a casting at the agency so picking one that is close to home saves a whole lot of time and drama.

We’ve scoured Singapore for the best agencies here in Singapore that might set your little one on the path to becoming a Next Top Model. Have a good look at their websites before approaching your shortlist: the galleries are the perfect starting block to check out the kind of children they already have signed. If there are tens of blonde-haired, blue-eyed children who look similar to your own kids, then chances are the agency won’t want to sign up any more.

Once you have a shortlist of agencies you think might suit you and your child, then send off your email with photos and sit back and wait for them to get in touch.  Most agencies will want to take your child on exclusively if you sign a contract with them: This is why it is important to choose an agency that you are happy to work with for the foreseeable future.

Hello Group
Hello is a friendly team dedicated to finding child (and adult) models for TV, film and editorial work. The office is also a casting studio and you and your child will be asked to come along for any auditions and castings that they feel your child would fit the criteria for. My own children are all signed with Hello and love the relaxed atmosphere (and free sweets) that they get when we pop by for castings.
Hello Group, 25 Tai Seng Ave, #04-02, KOP Building, Singapore 534104. e. hello@hellogroup.sg; www.hellogroup.sg

Phantom
Phantom caters for children age from one to 13 years of age.  The agency provides models for the fashion industry as well as offering a full range of casting services. Kids have the chance of auditioning for shows, launches, exhibitions, advertorials and Phantom likes to keep an even balance of Asian, Eurasian and Caucasian models on its books.
Phantom, 276a SouthBridge Road Singapore 058825, p. 65 6221 2981, e. info@phantom.com.sg; www.phantom.com.sg

Impact Models
As one of the leaders in the child modelling field, Impact guides its models age three months through to 12 years through a range of opportunities such as television commercials, event launches, fashion spreads, fashion shows and more. The agency also offers child modelling courses to build confidence, improve posture and develop social skills, as well as portfolio sessions so that kids can experience what it really will be like to be a model.
Impact Models, 315 Outram Road # 04-04 Tan Boon Liat Building, Singapore 169074. p 6536 9668, e. enquiry@impactmodels.com; www.impactmodels.com

Diva Models
Established in 1995, Diva Models is a one-stop agency who cater for models of all ages. Your child could feature in anything from a fashion magazine to a TV commercial and with its strong international links, Diva has become one of the premier modelling agencies here in Singapore.
Diva Models, 2A Stanley Street, Singapore 068721, p. 65 6223 5007, e. divamodels@divamodels.com.sg, www.divamodels.com.sg

Mint
Mint specialises in Pan-Asians models but promotes local models of all ethnicities. Founded in 2010 by a former model, the agency aims to build a long-lasting relationship with its models and guide them into a modelling career.
Mint, 450 North Bridge Road #04-01 Singapore 188732, e. mintsingapore@gmail.com; www.mintsingapore.com

Basic Models
Basic Models represents kids aged three and above and specialises in projects related to fashion, commercials and events. New models will be required to go through theory and practical training and then pass a test to be fully accepted as part of the agency.
Basic Models, Ming Arcade, 21 Cuscaden Road #06-02, Singapore 249720, p. 65 9185 7685, e. booker@basicmodels.com.sg; www.basicmodels.com.sg

Shine Models & Talent Agency
Shine engages its models in various fields including print, TV commercials and fashion runways. Shine also offers courses including basic grooming and deportment as well as professional modelling courses. Recent clients include PediaPro, Samsung and Jurong Bird Park.
Shine Models & Talent Agence, 18 Arumugam Road, #02-01 Antioch @ MacPherson, Singapore 409962, p. 65 6659 4711; www.shinemodels.com.sg

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