It’s no surprise that getting started in the modeling and acting industry can be difficult. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for success. Instead, aspiring models and actors need to be creative, understand industry norms and expectations and work hard. The path to booking your first role or casting may look completely different from other models and actors.
One thing is certain though. Almost all paths begin with experience. Actors may consider trying out for a play at a local theater to hone their acting skills and get comfortable in front of a crowd. New models might build their portfolio by working unpaid modeling photoshoots with reputable photographers in exchange for the ability to use their images. Every endeavor, no matter how small, can contribute to your confidence and growth as a performer as well as provide the opportunity to network with other industry professionals.
There are so many ways new talent reach their “get discovered” moment. In some super rare cases, models have been discovered in the most random of places. For example, Kate Moss was discovered while dealing with flight delays in an airport and Cindy Crawford was discovered by a random photographer while attending a football game. On the flip side, stars like Meryl Streep spent years perfecting their craft in theater and smaller film roles before gaining widespread recognition. And truly, while an aspiring model or actor can spend every day having lunch in the window at a local restaurant hoping someone will walk by and say “we have just the right role for you,” it is unlikely for this to happen. Most of today’s working industry professionals spend countless hours learning, practicing, networking, auditioning and generally chasing their dreams. Like with many other things in life, so much of a person’s success is built throughout the journey.
When it comes to social media, there is even a possibility of getting discovered on apps like Instagram or TikTok. If an aspiring model or actor receives an offer from a reputable agency that will develop them, that’s great! Always, always, always start by researching a company that reaches out via social media. Visit their website and be wary of offers that come from generic emails like @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. Most agencies and managers have email addresses that come from the same domain as their website. It might look something like email@example.com. Any time you are questioning whether or not an opportunity is legitimate, you should reach out to a contact email that you find on the company or agency website to verify it is a legitimate employee of that company. This is normal and any reputable industry contact will be happy to see potential talent taking the steps needed to stay safe and researching who they are communicating with.
For many new models and actors, it will take years of practice and training for them to build confidence in their skills, learn the lingo of the industry, and learn all of the standards and expectations of the industry. At Barbizon, we often help new actors and models who are just starting out. By working on techniques and learning the business side of the modeling and acting business, aspiring talent builds the foundation that will help them chase their dreams.
There is no single “right” way to make it big. In actuality, there are many ways to get started! The most important thing a new model or actor can do is say YES to the opportunities that come your way and to act like a true professional at every job, no matter how small. Dedicating time to practice, learn, and network are the building blocks that will lift you a head above the competition in the casting room.