You've got the look. But do you know how to book? The job, that is. Any top model will tell you there's nothing better than booking a paid modeling job. But to get there, you must first get through the process of submitting, auditioning, and getting hired. Typically, this is done by attending an audition for models and talent, otherwise known as a casting call.
Casting calls (or castings) are similar to job interviews. At print or runway modeling casting calls the client and/or the photographer is usually present. Print castings typically are held in a studio, office, or other meeting space and involve a short interview and a quick look at each model's portfolio. Runway model castings are normally held in a space that allows each model to walk prior to being chosen for a fashion show.
Digital casting websites have made it easier for modeling agents to pre-qualify models for castings, and to directly book models for modeling work. Being pre-selected for casting calls with clients is a good way of shortening wait times at the audition and offering models better odds at booking jobs from the castings they attend. But just because you have been chosen to attend a casting call, that doesn't mean you will automatically book the job. First you must follow some basic guidelines to let the client know you mean business and you are qualified to get the booking.
From Los Angeles to New York, Miami to Chicago, and everywhere in between, there are subtle nuances that make attending casting calls in every city unique. Modeling in Los Angeles is in some ways very different than modeling in New York or Miami, But wherever you may roam, there are some basic rules that will always apply. Here are the best tips for models to follow when attending casting calls.
Tips for Attending Model Casting Calls
Ever hear the expression the early bird catches the worm? It holds true for models and actors, too. Most casting directors agree that in order to be noticed it helps to be seen either first or last in the talent pool. However, many casting offices will shut their doors to anyone who arrives after their scheduled appointment time. So it's better to be early than late. Give yourself plenty of time to get there.
The digital age has had a tremendous impact on the modeling industry. Unfortunately, it has also allowed for some over-manipulation of promotional photographs. That's why many casting directors have opted to video-record models auditioning for print and runway in order to get a sense of what they truly look like without photo enhancements. So, before you walk out the door, slap that makeup on and be prepared to be filmed at any casting.
Dress the part.
A very common question asked by models is: What do models wear to casting calls? For most print and runway castings, the client will not likely specify wardrobe for the casting call. But, if you know the type of part you will be playing in the final booking, it could be helpful to bring that role to life as best you can. When you get word of the audition, ask your agent if there is a certain wardrobe the client recommends, what part you are auditioning for, and then use your style and best judgment to choose a casting call outfit. Once you start going on casting calls regularly, it could be helpful to track which outfits snare you the most bookings and stock up on similar wardrobe items. And for the true newbies here’s a hint on where to start. Avoid busy patterns. And avoid wearing the colors white or black, unless instructed to do so. Bright solid colors that flatter your shape will look best on camera, if you are filmed or photographed at the audition.
While technology has improved the way we communicate in business, there are still those times when wires get crossed and things slip through the cracks. So, it never hurts to carry certain must-haves in your model bag when heading out to a casting. Extra composite cards and headshots to leave with clients are an absolute must! If you are a runway model, bring an extra pair of heels, even if you are going on a commercial casting. Bikini models should always have a two-piece tucked away in their bag just in case the client forgot to mention ‘bring a swimsuit’ in the casting notice. While you’re at it, toss in an extra bottle of water and a mini bag of snacks, too. Plan ahead for a long day of castings, and you just might get called up for more.
Most modeling auditions are detailed via email or text, allowing for casting info to be thoroughly covered and nothing left to chance. So before you get ready to head out to the casting call, review the details of where you are going and what the client has asked for, including what to wear and what to bring. If it's a runway modeling audition, bring a nice pair of heels for walking the runway. If it's a commercial casting, learn the role and any dialogue ahead of time. Once you are there, listen to what the director is asking of you and do your best to make it happen. Following directions will go a long way toward your reputation as a professional. And the ability to take direction is a huge plus!
If there's one thing that bugs casting directors most, it's talent who arrive at a casting call even though they're not available for the booking dates. Prior to going on any audition, check to be sure you are free to actually be there for the job. Don't go in there thinking the client will move the shoot date if they really want you. There are too many other factors and other people involved in organizing and planning a production. Locations, crew, equipment, and a whole array of other details have already been worked out to book that particular shoot time. If you're not available, it's okay to say no. There will be other jobs to book in the future that you definitely won't be able to get if the casting director feels you have wasted their time on this one.
Make an impression.
What's the best advice for attending a casting call? Be yourself and make a great impression. Treat every casting call as a job interview for your dream job. Be engaging, friendly, and confident. There could be only a handful of others auditioning for the same part, or there could be hundreds. Make the client remember you, in a good way. Be charming, be yourself, and be proud that you are there. You made it to the casting call, and nowadays that's more than half the battle. Prove to them that you can do the job, and end the day knowing you did your best and the decision is out of your hands. Then get ready for the next casting call. Follow these basic steps, and the auditions and bookings will keep coming.
A couple years back we broke the story at Examiner.com that Peter Lindbergh had orchestrated a Supermodel Reunion as part of his short film series published on Nowness.com. The details of the project were pretty hush, but all would soon be revealed. And what a reveal it was!
Supermodel Reunion | Top models of the ‘90s reunited in short film
The ‘90s decade is known for standout sitcoms, grunge rock, and the era of the supermodel. In January 1990 Vogue UK boasted a cover photograph by Peter Lindbergh starring Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz. For his short film series, Lindbergh has assembled some of the era’s biggest names in modeling for a short film entitled The Reunion which is currently featured on Nowness.com.
Known for producing stunning black-and-white imagery, Peter Lindbergh directed the short featuring models Karen Alexander, Nadja Auermann, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova and Tatjana Patitz. Ranging in age from 40s to 50s at the time of the shoot, the models can be seen reminiscing about past photo sessions while posing for a group shot in knit sweaters. The clip includes a voiceover from Crawford saying, “The thing that makes working with Peter memorable is just Peter, his energy. He really sees the beauty in a mature woman, like through experience, through having children, through heartbreaks, through love. Through all of that, Peter thinks, adds to our beauty. And that’s what we’re here doing today.”
Lindbergh’s iconic Vogue image began a trend that would lead to ensemble casting of models in editorials and music videos, introducing the world to the faces of fashion who would remain household names to this day. While some of these legendary supermodels have lingered in the spotlight over the past 25 years, having them gathered together in one place for a group photo shoot was a rare treat. The black-and-white short was published as part of the Directors Cuts series at Nowness.
If you have never seen this piece or his other supermodel short entitled Walking I would strongly encourage you to take a look. These black-and-white mini masterpieces capture so much more than an era of iconic fashion models gone by. It’s a testament to a revolutionary period of time when everything was about to change for models of the world, everywhere.
These women were more than just stereotypical model-types or as they were labeled Supermodels. Prior to their successes, a working model could expect her career to last up until the age of 25, and at that point she would be considered a “classic” model, perhaps suited for an agency’s older division. At age 25! So going in at age 18 to 20, you think okay I have a few years to do this and that’s it. But these incredible ladies changed all of that.
Not only did they continue the work and pave the way for us all to continue working well into our 30s and 40s and beyond, they were the first influencers and arguably originated what would later become influencer marketing. Yes, they showed us how to secure a modeling contract and earn the coveted Supermodel title. But as they got older they worked to build their own brands and capitalize on their names in order to sell their own products. Talk about entrepreneurial efforts! Cindy Crawford, Kathy Ireland, and Brooke Shields are known for selling home furnishings but they also own a piece of the profits. Christie Brinkley, Raquel Welch, Vivica Fox, and Beverly Johnson have their own lines of wigs. Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson banded together and invested in restaurants. Paulina Porizkova wrote and published a children’s book. Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks became better known for their television hosting gigs than for their early work as models.
So when you watch these films — and again, I would urge everyone interested in becoming a model, or anyone who is simply a super-modeling fan, to watch it — look into their eyes. Behind their deep gazes are years of experience, knowledge, and life. Hats off to Lindbergh for capturing it all so well.
Here in the U.S. every modeling market has its own personality and uniqueness when it comes to the way castings are conducted, jobs are booked, and how agencies operate, and Los Angeles is no exception. Known as an acting town, models traveling here from other cities that are more fashion oriented will find things might seem a bit different than what they are used to when it comes to attending casting calls, arriving on set, and working with other LA models. Here are some tips for models who aspire to work in Los Angeles.
Advice for Los Angeles Models
Get good representation. There are many modeling agencies in LA, and models need good representation to be submitted for top modeling jobs here in Tinsel Town. The best way to get an agent in Los Angeles is by referral, either through a model's home agency or thru a client you have worked for previously. Another way is to attend a modeling agency open call during designated times when agencies allow anyone to come in for an evaluation, or submit your photos online. Since LA is home to many celebrity influencers, having a large social media following or being an influencer yourself might help.
Be professional. LA models and actors have a notorious reputation for being 'flaky' or unprofessional due to not showing up, being late, and/or not following directions. If an LA model wants to build a solid client list for repeat bookings, the easiest way is to be professional and always arrive to the set on time, ready to work.
Arrive camera-ready. Unlike other modeling markets on the East Coast and in Europe, where most models wear little-to-no makeup unless they are on the job, here in LA models should prepare to be put on camera at a moment's notice. This means being camera ready, with hair and makeup done, before heading out for the day, or at least carrying a makeup bag in the car for unexpected casting calls and bookings.
Tote some flats.
The average height of a model in Los Angeles is 5'7" to 5'9" give or take a couple of inches, unlike other modeling markets where the height of most models is 5'11" and up. Models in LA are frequently called for jobs involving actors or musicians, who are not always as tall as they may appear to be on television, so taller California models may benefit from carrying a pair of flat-heeled shoes to casting calls like the ones pictured here. These flat sandals come in a wide array of styles and colors. They can be dressed up or down, and would easily fit into your modeling bag or backpack to use at casting calls or bookings when you don't want to wear high heels.
Get reliable transportation. There's an old saying in Los Angeles that everything is just a 20-minute drive away. But with heavy scheduling demands made on LA models, and traveling to and from casting calls, fittings and bookings at a hectic pace, a reliable car is mandatory.
Invest in a headshot. In addition to a standard modeling composite card, LA models definitely need to invest in an 8x10 headshot with attached resume for submission to music videos, commercials, television shows and movie roles. If a model has only few credits to list on his or her resume, then acting studies, performances and certain modeling jobs can be included to show industry experience and knowledge of taking direction. If you aren't sure where to get your headshots printed, Photoscan takes orders from anywhere in the U.S. and can ship to you at an affordable price. It's a great option for beginners looking to submit headshots to talent agencies and reps.
Build a strong portfolio and composite card. Although L.A. is considered a secondary fashion market, models who have a strong portfolio showing a variety of looks and editorial experience with tear sheets that include magazine, catalog and advertisement work tend to book more jobs. Once you have done some photo shoots you can invest in a good comp card. If you are pretty good with design you could use a program like Photobacks to do it yourself.
Take acting classes.
Even though other states like New Mexico, Louisiana and Georgia have grown in terms of hosting many television and film productions over the past few years, Los Angeles remains the world capital of film, television, and commercials, and it is very common for fashion models to get called in or jobs requiring them to act. Models based in California would benefit from basic on-camera acting classes in preparation for potential casting calls and jobs from the acting side of the industry.
Prepare for bikini modeling work.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a must for getting modeling work in Los Angeles. When going on casting calls, particularly for print castings and music videos, models should be prepared for impromptu fittings or requests to be seen in a swimsuit. This Oscar de la Renta booking was completely unexpected! When the call came in for me to go to the casting, I was down in Orange County at another booking and had to go straight to the business for fittings to see if I would get picked. Luckily I was swimsuit-ready! And thankfully I booked the job.
Make contacts through networking. Los Angeles is a huge city with a close-knit modeling community where many types of models have the opportunity to network and build a list of contacts and clients. Through networking and volunteering at local events, classes, or fashion shows, it’s easy for models to get out into the community and make things happen.
*A version of this article by Cherie Wimberly previously appeared in the LA Modeling Examiner column at Examiner.com
Meet the Author
Hi, I'm Cherie Wimberly but friends call me Cher. I'm a professional model and fashion writer, best known for my published column as the National Modeling Examiner. Learn more about me by reading My Story.