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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Child Modeling

Photograph by Twenty20

If you flip through any magazine or browse the web, you're bound to see pint-size beauties decked out in kiddie couture or playing with the latest toys and gadgets. You may even think to yourself, my kid can do that, too. You may be right, but there are a few things to consider before taking that leap. Here are six things you didn't know about child modeling.

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1. It's not all about cuteness.

While looks will get them through the door, personality is what will give them staying power.

Let's face it. Cute kids come a dime a dozen, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they're model material. While looks will get them through the door, personality is what will give them staying power.

I submitted snapshots to a child modeling agency and within days they requested to meet with my daughter. The agent later told me that she loved her look, but wanted to know more about her personality. The agent wanted to make sure that my daughter was comfortable speaking with people. If your little one is shy or gets cranky easily, then modeling may not be the way to go.

2. It's expensive.

No agency should charge you money to represent your child up front. However, be prepared to shell out dough for things like photos and other incidentals.

While a reputable agency does not require professional photos, hiring an experienced photographer may get your child in a better position to book gigs. Cost for photos can run you a few hundred bucks, not to mention another $15 to 20 bucks for retouching, if necessary.

In addition to paying for photos, some agencies may have a free database that has your child's photos and stats. However, there may also be a charge to be added to a premium database allowing access to more potential job opportunities.

Let's not forget the cost to attend "go-sees," a term used in the modeling industry when meeting with a possible client. If you live in a major modeling city, you may be able to walk or pay a few dollars for public transportation. But here in New York City, traveling and parking can run you around $40 to $50 bucks a day.

3. It's a huge commitment.

If you work full-time outside of the home, chances are you won't be able to keep up with casting calls. There have been times when we'd get a call to attend a "go-see" with little time to prepare.

Like with any job interview, not showing up would be totally unprofessional. So it's important to follow through with the audition process.

4. It's not always glamorous.

Modeling is far from glamorous. I began modeling as a teen and it was pretty grueling, so I can only imagine what it's like for a child.

Most people assume that because your child is a model she's surrounded by an entourage. Modeling is far from glamorous. I began modeling as a teen and it was pretty grueling, so I can only imagine what it's like for a child.

For one, in the modeling and acting world, there is a saying that "you have to hurry up and wait," which means you're required to be on set and ready to go. But then there's always a wait time before you're actually on set because photographers are busy trying to make sure the lighting is right and that everything else is in place. If the shoot is outdoors, you may have to wait until the sun angle is at the right position to get the best photos. I've been on shoots where I've had to work in extreme weather conditions. (Think super early in the morning, 20 something degrees outside with wind chills in the single digits. It was so cold that the hand and toe warmers that they gave out did very little to keep me warm.)

And casting calls are a whole other beast. My daughter has a pretty normal childhood; she still attends school during the day and her castings are scheduled after class is dismissed. So it's a quick turnaround to get to an audition, but we make it work. When we get to the casting call though, the line is typically out the door. So I usually make sure to bring snacks and activities to keep my 5-year-old busy until they call her name—because the last thing you want is a bored and grumpy kid.

5. Your child should have a trust account.

After many claims of misappropriated funds involving child actors, some states now require parents to open a trust account for their child. A portion of their earnings is placed in the account and can be accessed when they're 18 years old.

6. You don't necessarily need an agent.

In order to navigate through the child modeling world, having an agent is a great idea. But if you're looking for opportunities on a smaller scale, there are lots of small business owners looking for child models. The only caveat is that you don't have an agent serving as the middle man, so it's even more important to become knowledgeable with industry standards and be able to negotiate payment for your child's work.

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So before you decide to jump start your child's modeling career, think about whether or not you're willing to put in the time. Photo shoots tend to last a short time, around 30 minutes or so for little ones. However, prep time and hours spent shlepping to and from castings can be a lot longer.

And I can't stress this advice enough: Make sure that your little one is up for it, and that he or she is happy doing it. Talk to your kid and keep communication channels open not only before diving into the modeling industry, but also throughout the journey.

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