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.
If you are interested in becoming a model or want to learn more about modeling and pageants, follow me on Twitter @pageantnotebook for the latest modeling news and casting calls.
*A version of this article by Cherie Wimberly, author of the Ultimate Pageant Notebook and pageant and modeling expert writer, previously appeared in the LA Modeling Examiner column at Examiner.com