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 a spot of modelling in Singapore. But what’s it really like putting your little one into the spotlight? HoneyKids Ed, Tracy Tristram, is a seasoned mum of models and shares her advice on finding an agency, tips on acing auditions and wise words on how your little one can become a child model in general. Time to strike a pose, kids!
The inside info on creating a child model
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. My youngest, Rafferty, has been quite successful in the past couple of years with campaigns for Lego, Changi Airport and Benjamin Barker under his belt. My elder two, Jack and Angelica, also did a few bits ‘n’ bobs, but despite being just as good looking (in my humble opinion) as their small sibling, they never had anywhere near as much success. Turns out that 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’s modelling career. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way…
Not just a pretty face
Good models, both adult and children alike, are not judged on looks alone: temperament and personality are just as important for success. Even if your child has the face of an angel, they won’t get bookings if they are uncomfortable in front of the camera, shy when speaking with strangers, and reluctant to take direction. Mini-models need to show an interest in the business, and it’s crystal clear in auditions and castings when a child is there not out of their own will, but because mum wants them to be there. So, before you start signing your kiddos up left, right and centre of the catwalk for a modelling career, do consider whether:
- They are generally outgoing
- They will take directions from strangers
- They will be able to pay attention (possibly lengthy periods of time)
- They actually want to be a model (as opposed to mum wanting them to be a model)
Personality comes through on camera, and 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.
You should also consider how well your child is equipped to handle disappointment. The industry is notoriously competitive and ultimately your child might 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 used to take it more to heart, before hanging up their modelling boots altogether. If you little one tends to get easily deflated, then auditions can be quite a tough gig when they don’t pan out. Rafferty gets picked more than the other two did because his confidence makes him stand out at castings.
Singapore’s next supermodel?
If you are serious about your children doing some modelling or acting, signing them up with a casting or modelling agency is imperative. Your first contact with an agency should be by mail or email. Send two or three colour snaps of your child and include one full-body, and one head shot. They do not have to be professionally photographed. Within your cover email/letter make sure you include your child’s full name (and yours), age, hair, 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, or else a polite rejection. The ‘thanks, but no thanks’ are hard, but it does NOT mean that your child is not going to make it as a model. It could just be that they do not have the look that particular agency is looking for.
What can I do to help my child break into the industry?
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 supermodel 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 mini-model’s mum-ager! A committed parent with a charismatic child is the perfect package in an agency’s eyes 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 your young superstar may need to miss school, which is not always feasible. Likewise, if you are a working parent then you will also have to negotiate time off. It can be quite the juggle, and for me it’s been made possible by having a fantastic helper who is fully on board with the casting process and who knows how to handle Rafferty on set should I not be able to be there.
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! Unless you get booked by a big client, the 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 kids more confidence and a lot of laughs (as well as occasional tears) along the way. Rafferty has a natural flair for performing, but Angelica is about ready to hang up her catwalk shoes, and Jack would rather do just about anything in the world than pose in front of a camera (much less actually smile).
Do open a bank account for your child for when their earnings roll in. The jobs may not pay a lot, but over time and with enough of them there will be a nice little nest egg for a special treat.
Which agency should I use?
A good starting block for finding an agency is good ol’ fashioned word of mouth. Amongst your friends and Facebook support groups, there are bound to be parents whose little ones are signed up.
The location of your 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.
Once you have a shortlist of the agencies that suit, 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.
Faces Junior Talent Management
My youngest, Rafferty, has had quite a bit of casting success with Faces Junior, and the friendly team are great at getting the best out of the children, both during auditions and on set when they seal a job. Look out for Raff in the recent Changi Airport advert, and on Lego billboards all over Toys “R” Us: all thanks to Faces!
Faces Junior; www.facestm.com
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 they feel your child would fit the criteria for. My own children are all signed with Hello and they love the relaxed atmosphere (and free sweets) they get when we pop by for castings.
Hello Group, 25 Tai Seng Ave, #04-02, KOP Building, Singapore 534104; www.hellogroup.sg
Phantom caters for children one to 13 years of age. The agency provides models for the fashion industry, as well as offers 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, 10 Anson Road, International Plaza #37-06, Singapore 079903; www.phantom.com.sg
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 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; www.impactmodels.com
Established in 1995, Diva Models is a one-stop agency that caters 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, 134 Emerald Hill Rd, #03-136, Singapore 229414; www.divamodels.com.sg
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, 22 New Industrial Rd, #07-20/21, Singapore 536208; www.mintsingapore.com
Basic Models represents kids aged three years 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. Yep, we really are talking about joining a model agency here, and not taking a driving test!
Basic Models, The Commerze@Irving, 1 Irving Place, #09-10, Singapore 369546; www.basicmodels.com.sg
Good luck, and don’t forget to tag us (#honeykidsasia) on Instagram with pics of your mini models in action!
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