Models can often be scouted young - at age 13 and upwards, there’s an increasing likelihood that they will be spotted. A number of the most famous models you will have heard of started out around this age, and many actresses also started out modelling this way. Kate Moss was 14, as was Jennifer Lawrence, and Natalie Portman was 10 years old when a Revlon agent tried to get her into modelling. Karlie Kloss had her first cover shoot at 14, and Cara Delevingne shot for Vogue Italia aged 10. Naomi Campbell was 15 when she got her first cover. As a career choice, modelling needs to start young for the best results. As a parent, however, this can be worrying.
There are some things that you can control, and others that you can’t. If you want to be able to allow your child to succeed in this business, it may well be that you have to let go of a few of your inhibitions. You can still ensure their safety as much as possible, however, and look after them in a responsible way. Here’s some advice for those who are considering getting their teens started in modelling.
1. Chaperones should always be welcome
If you want to accompany your teen to a set, you absolutely should be able to. There are very few occasions on which anyone should have a problem with this. I would recommend that you attend whenever possible, and perhaps consider cancelling a shoot if you are not permitted to attend. This is a matter of safety - first of all in ensuring that your teen is safe on set from any harm, and secondly of protecting their image. If you have a 15 year old daughter, it’s probably not appropriate for her to be coerced into appearing naked with male models. Your presence at the shoot can prevent persuasive photographers or art directors from pushing things too far. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there are people out there who cannot be trusted, so it’s necessary to take precautions. You can sit quietly in a corner with a book and a coffee - but your being there will make a difference.
2. Manage them - or find a manager
Being a parent and a manager - or a “momager”, as they are dubbed in the US - is no easy task. It requires balance, both at home and at work. It also requires hard work or sacrifice. But someone has to get work for your teen, manage that work, control their finances, and ensure that they are doing the best for their career. If you do not feel up to the job, it might be time to think about hiring a manager. The alternative is to go the agency route, but in many cases, girls are allowed to sign for more than one agency. This may require further management to ensure that there are no conflicts.
3. Carefully control social media
In the modern world of instant connectivity, anything you say or post can be seen around the world in a matter of minutes. Social media can be your friend and should absolutely be leveraged as a marketing tool. In terms of moderating it, however, you need to be very careful. Make sure that photos, videos, and comments are vetted carefully. You can give your teen a certain amount of trust in this area, but anything inappropriate should be taken down as quickly as possible. Also remember the recent spate of stars having their personal photos hacked - try to encourage your teen to observe caution when it comes to taking and saving images that you might not want the public to see.
4. Screen potential shoots and clients
Make sure to check out any potential shoot before it happens. Look for the location or studio and where it is situated. Take a look at the work done by the photographer previously. If they are a bigger name, then a Google search might tell you what it is like to work with them. Reviews can often be found on modelling sites and booking systems. Take a look at the client too, and the shoots they have had done in the past. If you are not comfortable with your teen being photographed nude, and the photographer specialises in nude glamour shots, you might want to rethink your plans. Always get assurances in writing if you are in doubt. Although they may not prevent anything from happening, they are at least something to fall back on if you are accused of flaking out.
5. Get training or agency help
Model training can really help your teen to progress quickly. They can find out on purpose what it takes others years to learn by trial and error. There are a number of ways to get training. You can try a tuition session with a photographer, like the two hour modelling tuition programme that I offer. This includes a new set of images as well as guidance on how to use light, how to pose, and how to act for the best results. The advice is personalised and will tell you exactly what to do. I also have four hour and full day packages for those who need further guidance. Or, you can go to an agency. When you’re taken on by an agency, they are likely to give you some guidance - or at the very least, get you a lot of work so that you can learn quickly.
6. Take responsibility as a parent
Here’s the big thing that you have to remember. Whether your teen turns out to be the next Hannah Montana or Cara Delevingne, or just an ordinary kid, you are still their parent. They are going to act stupid, be rebellious, and do all of the things that teenagers do. It’s your job to take responsibility for them. That means making sure the money they earn is well looked after. Not letting them get in too deep with bad situations and crowds. Protecting them and making them aware of issues such as drugs, underage sex or sexual exploitation, alcohol, and so on. A lot of the time they might hate that parental interference. At the end of the day, they’ll thank you for it when they turn out to be well rounded and successful adults. Even if modelling is just a hobby or part time thing for them, you need to look after them and be sure that everything is done in a responsible and safe manner.