Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Day in the Life of a Print Agent

 As some of you know, I used to be a kids’ print agent for Take 3 Talent in NYC.  Within the past year or so, I’ve re-joined the agency part-time doing behind-the-scenes work.  Being back in the loop, and because of my past experience as an agent, I have gotten the opportunity to fill in at the kids’ print desk a few times and I’d like to share what goes on in a day as an agent.  It’s a lot of fun, but also a pretty fast pace and the day can go by really quickly!

First of all, everything is done over email and the internet.  Back when my daughter first started in the industry, hard copy comp cards and photo prints were just being phased out.  Now portfolios are online, there is software for putting out appointments, not to mention the heavy-virtual casting experience because of COVID.  This is a full day at your laptop.

First thing in the morning, before I even get out of bed, I check the emails to see if there are any urgent breakdowns from a client.  A breakdown is a description of the job, including the client/product, rate, usage (how long the images will be used and where), the job dates, and types of kids the client is looking for.  A breakdown would usually include size, sex, and look of kids, maybe something like “size 2T girls with diverse looks”.  Very commonly breakdowns include a height (in inches).  More on that in a minute.  I’ll also check for any holds or bookings that might have come in early or late.  I just like to know what I’m getting into when I start my day.  Clients will always get a quick reply so they know I’ve gotten the email.

The day usually begins percolating around 10:00 am.  That’s when I’m logged-in, comfy and have the coffee in hand and the TV-background noise set to Bravo, HGTV, or SVU (depends on the day!).  Time to really dig into the emails.  Breakdowns are the top priority and will always be handled right when they come in, so the client can see our kids right away.  Then, holds and bookings also need to be confirmed right away, which is why it’s so so so important for parents to check for emails from the agent. Don’t check like an obsessive madperson, maybe just set your device to sort agency emails into priority or give them a special tone when they come in.  Clients really need confirms within an hour or two.  If we email with a size question or for a quick snapshot, we’ll need that right away because a client is probably asking.  If you work, your child goes to school, or you’re away from your child during the day, you should have this information handy on your phone.  Definitely have a few good snapshots on hand that you update very regularly.  (This is where I remind you this is a business, and by having a kiddo in the business, we need you to treat it like you would your own business priority emails.)

Other than breakdowns, clients will send requests for casting materials such as size information, self-tapes, and snapshots.  Holds (also known as “first-refusals” -- or second-refusals, etc.) come out for kids the client would like to reserve a kid for a potential booking.  In theory, everyone should be available unless you’ve booked out, but clients will check because they want to be sure someone is available before they book them.  A first-refusal is a hold for the first potential booking.  If a child is on hold, the second client to hold the child would get “second-refusal”.  During busy times of year, it’s not that unusual to have a couple of kids with more than one hold.  Then there are bookings that come in, and agents get just as excited about bookings as parents do!  Those are the best kind of emails to receive, along with the parent confirmation as soon as we send out the details.

When a client sends a breakdown, we respond by sending back a package.  A package is a link or set of links for the client to open and see the photos of kids who fit the breakdown. Each photo in the package includes sizes and a link to the full portfolio of the child.  We can change the cover-pic for a child to suit the project, but usually the cover pic is a headshot as opposed to a full-length pic so the client can see the child up close.  This is why we need GREAT pics including the work the child has done so clients can see what the child looks like in a photo shoot.  Pics need to be current, reflect current hair and teeth, and should include full-length as well as head-shots.  Modeling photos, which look like the kids look in paid work, are also great if you have them.  A client will receive a package for each breakdown they sent -- so there might be several links for one project.  Usually the links are broken down by size and sex.  Every photo you send us should look like a child a client wants to book.

When a client sends requests, whether to see someone in person or gather virtual-audition materials, we enter the breakdown into our entertainment software data-base.  It is a system that keeps files on all talent and clients, and can carry a project from the initial breakdown and appointments all the way through to billing details.  It’s quite comprehensive!  When we input a project, we start from the name of the client and get in the rate, usage, dates of the project, if it’s union or non-union (in print, the work is non-union since it’s not on-camera BUT if there is any on-camera portion, it’s very important that we know if it is union or non-union because talent who are union members cannot work in non-union video).  Then we can use that program to put in the names of talent who have appointments to generate emails with all of the project details.  Once the talent are input for the appointments, it’s very easy to bump them to a hold and/or a booking.

That covers client emails, and of course confirms from parents.  Another task is when clients request paperwork from talent they have booked.  For the most part, we need that back as soon as possible along with the booking confirmation.  If you cannot do the paperwork right away, please at least confirm the booking and estimate when you can get the paperwork back to us.  Going through the paperwork is time consuming, so we need as much time as possible to get that sorted and sent back to the client.  The sooner you can get that back to us, the better!  Usually the items clients request are permits, I-9 (proof of citizenship), documentation for the I-9 (passport or birth certificate and social), W-4, proof of trust accounts, and sometimes contracts/releases and non-disclosure agreements.  The agency will look over those items before sending them to you just so there are no surprises down the road.  This is why it’s so important to have a printer at home and access to a scanner (maybe one that is along with the printer) or a good scanning app for your phone.  It’s ideal to send paperwork in PDF form and not jpg, as those can lose quality.  These are just tools of the trade for you to have as part of the business.  When Take 3 signs models, we ask for all of this paperwork and ideally we have it on hand to send to a client, but sometimes there is paperwork that is client-specific that we’ll need you to fill out. 

Bookings will also require size confirmation.  Parents, pleeeeeaaaaasssssssse update sizes!  When I was covering the desk this week, we lost a booking due to a size being inaccurate since the last update.  That was a bummer for all involved.  A baby needs to be updated monthly at minimum and older kids need to be updated literally every time they grow half an inch.  Still send updates even if there is no change.  Send the actual sizes and don’t just say “no change” because we will always want to double check the numbers we have.

Other than confirms, we hear from parents every day.  Size updates are important, and we also love to receive photos from jobs when they are released.  We do NOT get those photos unless they come from you!  It’s always a good idea for you to ask when you’re on a shoot when and where the photos will be released and then hunt them down.  When you find them, try to get us the highest possible resolution.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is send us a screen shot, but we always need the best possible version you can find so it shows up well in the portfolio.

Parents will also send fresh photos that they’ve taken or sometimes from a professional photo shoot.  We need you to send those to us in a dropbox link and NOT as attachments.  Set up a dropbox account, create a folder, fill it with photos, click share, and copy the link to the folder.  Don’t mail us an invite to view the folder, as we have one agency dropbox that we all share and it doesn’t match the email you sent the invite to.  Instead, send us the link so we can click on that and then download away.  We really can’t handle more than one or two attachments of photos in our emails, and dropbox is always best.  We’ll look through the photos and use what we can or coach parents if we need something different.

Bookout emails also come from parents, and we note those in the entertainment software I mentioned above.  When we put in appointments, the program will tell us if a model is unavailable.  We might still send you a project if you are booked out if the casting is virtual -- with snapshots and/or video -- since that’s something you can do anywhere.  In the past, when castings were in-person, knowing you were booked out was important for the casting, the callback, and the booking.  Now things are much more flexible.

Sometimes parents have billing questions, and we will remind them that non-union jobs (which includes print) can take 60-90 days to pay.  If it’s beyond 90 days, we’ll refer the question to our accounting department.  We do need to get those vouchers back from you right when your child finishes the job because we invoice right away, so make sure there is no delay.  This is where a scanning app on your phone comes in handy -- you can snap that voucher and send it to us as a PDF before you even leave the job.  Done and you don’t have to worry about it and we don’t have to chase it down.

Agents also get unsolicited emails from talent seeking representation.  We handle all submissions through the agency website, which we check constantly, and when we see kids we like, we send out invitations for them to submit virtually with additional photos (we specify what the photos should look like) and a self-tape (we give direction) so we can see the child’s personality.  We used to do in-person sessions where we’d block off a couple of hours at a time and see submissions that caught our eye, but now we’re doing that virtually.  I do miss meeting parents that way, though!  We then look through the virtual submission packages to make decisions about representing new models.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a one-way street here.  As much as we need parents to get back to us right away, it doesn’t always work the other way around.  If we don’t get back to you right away, it’s because we’re working hard to get kids seen by clients and get them out to their appointments and doing everything we can to get the kids booked.  You’ll hear back from us, but just give us a little patience!  We didn’t forget you!

The day winds down around 7:00 pm.  It gets slower after about 6:00, but clients often work to get bookings and castings finished until they are done rather than putting unfinished projects off until the next day.  And appointments do come in on nights and weekends!  If a client is shooting or fitting over a weekend, chances are we’re fielding appointments!

So what questions do you have?  I think I got down most of the stuff that goes on in a day!  Did I miss anything?  Do we eat?  I have honestly forgotten to at times if the day is steady because there doesn’t seem to be a natural break to do that, but sometimes there is a lull when I can grab a bite! 

Any questions for me?  Feel free to ask on the facebook post, comment here, or shoot me an email!  My email is and Instagram is @thebizzymama.  Follow the Bizzy Mama facebook page -- I announce new posts there!


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Is it a scam?

Is it a scam?

If you have to ask… it probably is.

I, with a group of other moms, administer a Facebook group called “Child Model & Talent Scams”.  Mostly, new members are looking for representation in their area.  Sadly, a lot of these people do not live in major child performer markets, and what they often run into are scams.  Often they have had interaction with an “agency” and want to know if they should pay money for representation.  Answer?  Always NO.

Let’s define the word scam, because it might be a little different depending on the situation.  Technically, according to the little dictionary here on Google docs, a scam is a “dishonest scheme”.  In the modeling and talent world, it’s pretty similar, but more focused on someone who asks for money for something you can do for free.  Usually, these places are being dishonest because they make promises they cannot keep (maybe unless you read the fine print, which probably actually promises you nothing).  When you want something for your child, you’re probably going to get a great impression of what they can do for your child and face it, you may not be reading the fine print.  They are dishonest because they don’t tell you that you can do it for free.  They want your money.

Legitimate talent agencies in major markets do not charge for submissions, representation, or classes.  I’m in the New York market, so I can’t speak to the California laws very well (see Bizparentz Foundation for their wealth of information) but in CA it is actually illegal for agencies to offer and charge you for these things.  I can speak to what is ethical, though, and this should apply nationwide.  It’s not ethical to claim to represent a child but demand you get photos through that firm.  It’s not ethical to claim to represent your child and charge you for classes to model or act.  (But doesn’t my kid need acting classes?  Sure, at some point, but more on that later.) The only money a legitimate agent should make is commission from work your child does.

In fact, it is more and more frequent that casting directors DO NOT want professional pictures of kids!  Photos are perhaps the biggest scam going.  You can always find a great photographer for far less than scam “agencies” or their photographers charge.  One “agency” has “preferred photographers” that you pay THROUGH that agency which marks up the cost about 100% and then they pay the photographer the going rate, taking half for themselves.  Shameful.  If you can take a decent photo of your child with your cell-phone (most have better cameras than our old digital point-and-shoots), you have what it takes to get jobs for your child.  See this post for some direction.  Once your child works and has photos from those shoots, your agent will use those as well.

Classes are a blatant scam.  No child needs classes to model or to walk the runway.  There just isn’t runway modeling for children like there is for adults, and it takes no more than five or ten minutes of practice to do a runway walk should you encounter a children’s runway show (there are a few legitimate ones out there, which your child would book through an agency).  Classes that teach silly poses and pouty looks will be a detriment to your child.  Go online and look at The Children’s Place and Gap.  Those kids have natural, happy looks.  There is a wrangler on set to make them laugh and have fun.  Nobody is asking a five year old to look over her shoulder and make duck lips.  If someone wants to teach your child to do that, run.

Acting classes through an “agency” that claims to represent you are a huge NO.  Children who act should take acting classes, sometime after they read really well and can take direction -- such as “do it again, but with more energy/humor/fear/etc. and go a little more slowly but have better eye contact with that performer”.  That usually happens in the age 8-11 age range.  Your legitimate agency will have a list of acting classes that they like -- and they know what they like because they like classes that will help a child be prepared to book jobs.  They will also have a list of photographers that they like because those photos will hopefully help your child to book jobs.  But here’s the thing:  you shop around, do some legwork, talk to experienced parents, and make the choice YOURSELF and pay the fee YOURSELF directly.

The most egregious “agencies” promise you photos and classes with the ultimate goal of meeting agents who want to represent you.  Usually LA or NYC agents!  Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?  Well, they are going to charge you a huge fee to get there.  I’ve heard of parents paying $15,000 for their “child’s dream” (your dream, I mean).  They promise big names but… we’ve investigated and some of those agents on the list they show you are dead.  Or out of business.  Or maybe attended ten years ago.  Full disclosure: when I was an agent, I went to one of those big conventions on a fact-finding mission.  I signed no one and saw maybe one interesting kid who lived five hours away and as a result would be impossible to work with.  And no, you don’t want to travel.  Did I see legitimate agents there?  Yes, for some adult modeling agencies.  Did they see anyone they liked?  I sat behind some reps from a TOP adult agency (and no, your fifteen year old 5’9” beauty will not work in NYC fashion week) -- remember, fact finding mission -- and they saw very few interesting prospects.  Maybe someday I’ll do a post on just that experience.

If your child has what it takes, you can get there for free.  When my child was younger, I did the legwork and got her signed by doing tons of research, taking some good pics myself, and even submitting through snail mail (back in the day).  It’s so much easier to do this today with better internet submission access.  I also live near a major market. If your child just wants to get hair and makeup done and walk a runway, there are those sorts of things that do just that and don’t make promises they cannot keep. Or go have a salon day. See if your local department stores do a fashion show in the mall.

If you really want your child to work in the industry, no one can make magic for your child.  If your child has what it takes, you can do this yourself.

Be sure to check out the Child Model &Talent Scams page on Facebook, the page for the Bizzy Mama on Facebook (where I announce new posts), and my Instagram @thebizzymama (fun with kids and pets and I announce new posts there, too). You can also reach me by email at

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Why? And Stop.

This has been building in me for a while.  I am not calling out any specific person.  This is not a passive-aggressive post designed to address one person but indicting everyone instead.  This is a response to trends and patterns I've seen, no doubt a product of the season: Summer.  So, follow me here for a moment before I get to my point.

I just read an article in New York Magazine about a YouTube family.  You know, one of those ones that posted daily about their comings and goings of the children and their new homes and cars… just one of those day-in-the-life things.  My daughter has watched a couple of those families over the years.  This particular family’s story focused on an adoption for a while, which is irrelevant here, but here is what is relevant.  I just learned this.  

YouTube does not allow comments on videos featuring children because internet pedophiles would place cryptic messages to each other time-stamping glimpses of children in bathtubs or bathing suits.  They have secret code-languages to call out to each other where to find these images -- for their sick pleasure.  Here is the quote:

Last year, Google began rolling out policy changes affecting family YouTubers, first by disabling comments on content featuring young children — which cut off a crucial line of communication with their audiences — after news outlets reported pedophiles were time-stamping scenes in videos as a virtual Bat-Signal to one another (a child swimming in a bathing suit, for example, or children in the bathtub).

And here’s where I kind of lost it.  Parents, why do you post so many pictures of your young children in skimpy bathing suits?  I really want to direct this to mothers of sons and daughters equally, and it is directed to parents of children of any sex/gender.  I just happen to see this more with young girls.  And by young, I mean anyone under the age of consent.  The pictures I see range from toddlers in bikinis to tweens and teens posing like Sports Illustrated bathing suit models.

Internet pedophiles find these pictures.  I will not leave that open for dispute.  If you are concerned about the true existence of these sickos, you can look at the sex-offender registry in your town and see the crimes committed by those placed on the registry.  I bet you will see people whose record includes internet-based crimes.  I know that’s true in my town.  And maybe the children for which those pedophiles were indicted included photos beyond bathing suits, but how is it at all different if your child -- clad in anything --  ends up on any of those sites?  Pedophiles search out any photos, but I somehow think it is worse if the child is barely clad or posing suggestively.

I guess my question is, why?  Convince me about this.  Why do you need your children posing in these photos on internet social media sites?  What do YOU have to gain by posting these pictures of your children?  What does your child have to gain?  Feel free to @me on this one.  I get it; we all think our children are beautiful, playful young things who ought to be showcased for these gorgeous qualities.  I post photos of my kids.  You don’t need to @me about that.  Because of my time in the model-mom/agent world, many of these children I see happen to be in child-modeling, and let me reassure you: nothing about these photos will get you any chance at work.  In fact, as an agent, I would never put a bathing-suit photo in a child’s portfolio because I would never want to be responsible for a photo like that getting into the wrong hands.  Just convince me why you need to post anything that offers a more-likely chance for your child to be exploited?

And I’m not talking about Satanic pedophile cannibals here, so please do not think that has any origin to this rant.  This is based on garden-variety internet pedophiles that I think we can all agree do, in fact, exist.

If you feel called out, my question is kind of… maybe think about this before you post?  Maybe clean up your existing posts?  It’s not too late.  Am I making enemies here?  Feel free to wish me to eff off on this position, but it’s not changing.  We are a village and we need our children not to be exploited in any way.  (Have I exploited my child by putting her into the business?  Not wanting to debate that here, but you could have that opinion, too.  I’m just acknowledging that some might have that argument.)  If I help prevent one kid from falling into that abyss, it’s worth my time writing this.

Parents, it is your job to protect your kids.  It is not your job to rack up likes of your cuties in compromised positions.  First day of school?  Eating ice cream?  Bring those on.  Fully-clad, please.

Feel free to like the Bizzy Mama facebook group (where I announce new posts) or head over to my Instagram, @thebizzymama for kid and pet photos and also new blog post announcements.  My email is and I am definitely open to hearing your thoughts on this topic.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Things I DON’T miss during this time off

Happy quarantine!  Hopefully everyone is social-distancing and surviving in this time of COVID crisis.  I know it’s a stressful time and I thought maybe I could recap some of the things about the industry that I DON’T miss during this time-out from auditions, castings, and shoots.

Seriously though -- isn’t it a relief to not be on hold?  While holds are great in many ways because it means your child might have a job coming up, there is always that sense of the unknown and the vague stress about what plans you might have to change or back out of in the event of a booking.  We’re on hold for a job next week and I’m not even worried about it since it came before the NYC stay-at-home requirement, so I’m quite confident I don’t even need to worry about that.

Parking tickets
I’ve been cleaning off my desk and came across an old parking ticket and thought, wow, how great is it that I’m not playing parking roulette and trying to decipher whether something is actually a legal spot or not?  I used to be a “never pay to park!” person who somehow always managed to find a spot (but it took a lot of time) and I probably messed up on about three or four occasions and paid mightily. In my old age, I now just use the Best Parking app, which usually gives a good price BUT sometimes you over-pay if you reserved for over an hour and you ended up in and out under a half hour (you know, that magically cheap period of time in the parking garage that is the teaser price they put out front on the sign).  But, no driving into the city, no paying to park!

Fake families
My daughter and a fake mom and dad in their Easter finest popped up in a Facebook memory, and I thought it’s nice taking a break from fake families.  Now, there’s really not much wrong with fake families -- in fact, they have always been very professional and kind people who have been really great to my child.  Cannot complain about that! Now, what is massively wrong with fake families is that they tend to be -- no joke -- a minimum of twenty years younger than I am. Twenty years.  So when I see my daughter pretending to be the daughter of a twenty-six year-old, it’s a real bummer. They are also so significantly more attractive (and thin) than I am. So a break from feeling old, ugly, and fat?  Nice!

Christmas in the Spring
The great thing about working in the spring and summer is that you get a little taste of Christmas on many sets.  I remember the days of my daughter not understanding she couldn’t open the fake presents. (Thank you, wranglers, for your help with that!)  But Christmas in the spring can also be a little stressful. You think, wow, if I’m really in gear this year, I can do my holiday shopping early!  Get ahead of the game! Maybe even organize all of the decorations in one place in the basement! But no, that never happens. And when the holidays actually do arrive, you never got around to any of that and the whole be-prepared spirit just blows away.

Early dismissals and absences from school
This is a double bonus!  No jobs or castings/auditions means no stress about those absences adding up.  Wait, what? AND no school to actually miss? No mental calculation about what time you can do the pick-up and still get in over half the day?  Score! My daughter’s school has a very organized online program, so if she were to miss a day, we would need to call in an absence so she is not just missing from her ZOOMs and assignments.  But again, no jobs so no worries about missing school!

Friday auditions
I just had to put this one because my daughter seems to magnetically attract Friday 5:30 audition times.  And living out in CT, there is a massive amount of weekender traffic from NYC to CT. I usually figure three hours to get home on a Friday (we’re about 1:45 TO the city), so about double the drive time in.  Now, no worries about those appointments and… wait for it, even when things do get going again, apparently everyone is already in CT (the people on my town Facebook pages are so ginned up about the “NYers” coming out to the country).  I can definitely say I do not miss that Thursday afternoon email about the Friday audition!

What are you NOT missing during this time off?

Be sure to like the BizzyMama Facebook page so you can get the posts as soon as I post them!  Also check out my Instagram @TheBizzyMama, and you can email at

Stay safe and healthy!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Gritty (but Great) Truth about Child Modeling and Acting

“A model?!?  Your child is a model?  Really?”

This is funny.  Why? How many of us ended up considering this opportunity for our kids because tons of people said, “Oh my!  Your child is gorgeous! He/she should be a model!” Apparently they don’t share memos.

When I talk to people outside of the business about child modeling and acting, they are often surprised to learn about some of these misconceptions.  But for those of us in the industry, this list is all too familiar. It’s also a great “study notes” guide to what you need to know before you take the leap.

1. “You/your child must be rich!”

The money in child modeling and acting typically falls into a few ranges.  Most print jobs pay $125/hr to a couple thousand (rare!) per day. More if you are working commercial print (like Pepsi or pharmaceuticals as opposed to clothes like Justice or Lands’ End).  Even the glorious giant windows in Baby Gap will pay out only about half a day of work (babies and toddlers have restricted hours according to NY labor laws). The more prestigious the brand does not equal more money.  The department stores, Ralph Lauren, Target and Amazon pay all in the realm of the fair NYC child print rates. Prestige is in the pics. What will pay out? Tech. A tech company may pay up to five figures for your kiddo to model in a print ad.  But — be prepared — that will likely take your kid out of the running for any tech-related work for a couple years. The lowest payer? Safe to say now because they aren’t in business anymore, but let’s just say… big toy store.

Commercials usually pay from $500 to $50,000 on up.  Yup, you read that right. Non-union commercials for kids pay about $500.  Union commercials (SAG/AFTRA) can pay out BIG. That depends on how many times the commercial airs, which channels, what time, which markets (locations) and for how long it runs.  Non-union commercials tend to pay a session fee (for the time you shoot) and then maybe more if the commercial actually airs.

2. You don’t keep the clothes.

It happens every so often… almost never but… here’s why.  Mostly you’re working about two seasons ahead of what people are buying now.  The clothes your child is modeling are supposed to be “under wraps” until the client releases the photos.  That’s why it’s also a no-no to take pictures of the products on set (so put the phones away, moms).

Also, many of the clothes are samples, meaning not quite the same you’d get in the store.  They may be a little less “finished” than what you buy, just so they client can get pictures of the look before the mass-production arrives in stores.  Some clients also tailor, which doesn’t mean customize the outfit like a fine suit… it means letting in and taking out and shortening or lengthening — but just so it doesn’t show in set.  For example, a tailor on set may take in some jeans just by sewing up the back of the leg — it won’t show in pictures, but it’s definitely not how you’d “wear” the garment.

3. Getting to the city on time WILL age you.

Oh man… this one alone.  If you do not live in NYC, like a subway ride or less from the shoot location/studio, block off the day for travel.  You cannot predict how long it will take you unless you’re working on specific train schedules. I drive in and it takes me 2-2.5 hours if you figure leaving home, maybe a pee and/or dunkin stop, light traffic, and parking.  Please note: it can also take this long at rush hour for someone driving in from NJ of LI… even like 20 miles away.

You get used to being very early or squeezing in an arrival just in the nick of time… and since time is the client’s money, you do NOT want to be late.  This is a business (okay, you know I always say that. You get it.)

Please note this is also stressful AF.  It will age you.

Important rules: always trust WAZE.  If it tells you to take the Lincoln Tunnel to go back over the GW Bridge just to get back to CT, you do it.  You swear a lot, but you do it. Second WAZE rule: you will always add time. Always. Leave earlier.

4. Oh the miles...

You will become one with your car.  Love your car. Have a comfortable car that you love.  And that you’re ready to drive it into the ground. You will get it scratched in garages, kissed by taxis, dinged by Amazon vans (I swear, those may be worse than citibikes) but but but… this is not the time to skimp on a car just so you have a plain old little city commuting car.  You will move into this car, and need to have a full kitchen, mud room, laundry facility, and two bathrooms in it. Your kids will barf, wet their pants, have to poop NOW, and… so will you. Be prepared.

Oh, and with the last minute nature of this industry, this car needs to be ready to roll in a few hours’ notice.  Don’t roll into your driveway with 2 miles left and think you’ll get gas in the morning — suddenly you have a casting at 9:00 am and you’re on E and need to add fifteen minutes into your trip to deal with the rush hour gas station dance.  (I may or may not be guilty of this.)

Embrace the mileage.  You’ll need to shop for cars that keep on keeping on after 200,000 miles.  And that you want to sit in four hour traffic going back to CT on a Friday in July.  Love your car. Praise her. She deserves it.

5. Auditions and castings after school can be a JUGGLE.

For school age kids, usually first grade and up, most castings are between 3:00 and 5:30.  Well, no one gets out of school before 3:00 in enough time to make a casting. So this means early dismissals.  And for 3:00, you want to get IN AND OUT of the city before… wait for it… RUSH HOUR. That means like, 3:15. Otherwise, if you live close enough to run in after school, amazing… but… what happens when it’s time to leave?  RUSH HOUR. Even if you do the train or bus thing, rush hour is not fun. And it usually takes a long time. See also: #4, preparing your car for hours of comfort.

6. Missing school is a reality.

just mentioned early dismissals, which can really stink if your child always has the same subject at the end of the day.  Prepare to help with lots of homework and maybe even extra help if you need to fill in for missed class time. But… when you get jobs, and for a few castings and auditions here and there, your child will miss school.  Period. If you have a problem with this, this is not your industry.

That said, all of the successful child models I know excel in school and plenty of other activities.  It’s all a balance and a juggle. Just be prepared for this. I have a post about dealing with absences — the real key is collaboration with the school.  It’s all communication.

Also worth mentioning here — your child will also miss after school activities and lessons.  Sometimes this is non-negotiable with the activity, so you may have to make some tough choices.  It can also be a drag if your child misses the activities that don’t happen as often — for example, we have Girl Scouts twice a month.  If we miss one, it ends of being a month between my daughter’s participation in the activities and that can be a real drag for her missing the continuity.  And all the other great things about the activity. Kids tend to leave the industry right around the time that after school sports and plays really heat up for kids.  Kids often choose the activities over the photo shoots.

7. This not translate to adult modeling.

Those dreams of that Vogue cover… the Prada runway show… it's very unlikely your child will transition into an adult model.  Of course it happens! But: your child will likely be very tall and age out of child modeling at a young age (think 58” inches as the end of the line for girls and 60” for boys) and then you have to wait several years until your child is the right height for adult modeling (tall), see if your child’s natural healthy weight would fit into tiny sample sizes, and… be 18.  There is not much of a market AT ALL for adult models under 18 (and those stories you hear about 14 year old runway models are old news — with child performer permit laws and regulations, no one would hire a 14 year old. Even junior models — like the odd-numbered sizes — are often over 18 and look young.

Oh — and the looks that make child models successful are often different from the more mature and artistic high-fashion looks.  Cute and sweet children may not translate into those looks. Still beautiful, but not Dolce.

8. My child is a brat for 20 other reasons

“But don’t child actors and models get so spoiled?”  Well, on set, it’s true they are treated well and there are people on set whose job it is to make them happy and comfortable.  But very quickly, kids also learn this is work. It can take a lot of patience and a lot of taking direction that can also make kids cranky at the end of a long day.  But isn’t that true of any job? We all get cranky at the end of an unusually challenging day. Often, these kids then get in the car and go to music, sports, or other lessons and groups and might seem a little grouchy.  As they get older, they learn that just doesn’t fly. People aren’t nice to grouchy kids.

One thing that is a plus in all of this is that your child learns to work with many adults and personalities (kids and adults) and your child is performing in a professional industry.  These are good skills that child models and actors learn young.

It’s important for parents to keep their children grounded.  Dina Lohan is very much the exception and not the rule. I have yet to meet a single mom anything like her.  Generally? Moms that break the norms of professionalism and good parenting tend not to last. Parents are very much seen on set but rarely heard during the actual shoot.  Kids need to learn to work without their parents nearby telling them everything to do. Parents of child models and actors also need to be sure this is just part of their child’s overall childhood experience.  Balance, variety, and a focus on education are paramount.

And if my child acts like a brat?  Trust me, it’s not because of this.  You can blame me for twenty other reasons, but not this one.

9. What about creepers?!?!

“But aren’t there pedophiles?!?!?”  

First, heed this warning.  There are pedophiles hidden in any possible place.  It’s possible for there to be a pedophile in schools, sports, clubs, and even at your dining room table.  Children who are sexually abused are most often abused by someone they know and there is usually a grooming process.  See my earlier post on this.

The key is vigilance.  You never let your child out of your sight and/or sound.  You never let your child be changed (clothes or otherwise) by another person and if you get the least bit uncomfortable use your mom senses and make the decision you need to in the moment.  California has layers of laws to protect child performers including background checks. NYC is not there yet, but most of the people in the industry tend to all work together and know each other so it’s not like you’re getting complete randoms every time you go to a job.

I’ve never heard of any sexual assault situation in the child modeling/acting specific community I’ve been part of for seven years.  

Again, vigilance in ALL places, including your own homes.

10. Remember: it’s a JOB.

Yes there are people there to make it fun and you and your kid should also prepare to make your own fun for the day — toys, electronics (this is NOT a no-electronics zone; every kid uses a tablet or iPod and the older ones have phones.  They need various forms of entertainment), snacks, books, etc.

But it is work and professionalism.  If a client is running late and you find out there are six more outfits to shoot in the next hour, your child needs to power through this like a trooper.  Kids who work regularly will get used to this. It gets easier as kids get older.

This isn’t like signing up for a fun activity where your child will laugh and love every moment.  A lot of toy/treat bribery goes on in this world. Maybe that’s why kids seem like brats, but by they time they are older and can read books and do homework, they are usually quite good at managing their own down-time along with work time on set.  It’s a developmental process — just like anything else.

11. No, you can’t just sign up.

So it still all sounds great?  You want to sign up? No, you can’t just sign up.  Now you need to do your research, find reputable agencies, learn how to submit and then… wait.  It’s not unlike applying to colleges. If you get called in and then offered a contract, now you’re ready to roll and you know what to expect.

Thanks for reading!  Check out my Instagram @theBizzyMama or my daughter’s professional IG @bizzyholland and you can like my Facebook page to learn when I post new blogs.  Contact me here or by email,

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Do you need headshots?

The universal question from every parent considering modeling for their child is “Do we need headshots?!?” and the first resounding answer I give is, “No!  Not yet!”

Why not yet?  If you are simply in the submission process to children’s agencies, you need basic submission photos — you can do these on your cell phone.  See this past post to know how to do that. If you are invited to begin working with an agency, use your agent’s guidelines for choosing the type and style of photos you need.  

So if you get to the point where you actually need photographs, the first thing is… not all photographs are headshots.  Headshots are shots, from the shoulders up, usually used for acting. If your child will be doing any acting with the agency, your agent will likely require strong headshots.  You should probably aim to get two to three different expressions. The goal is to have one semi-serious and engaging looking for movies, TV, and theater and another fresh, happy face for commercial submissions.

Vocab term:  a “look” is a hair and wardrobe combination.  Most photographers sell their packages by the number of looks they will shoot.  So five looks would be five different outfits with some different hair options mixed around.  Note: five looks is usually too many. Three is usually just right.

So headshots are a must for acting.  For modeling, your agency might ask for some professional pictures if your child is over five/six years old.  Usually before that point, when kids still grow fast, GREAT snapshots will work. Modeling pics aren’t headshots.  Usually they are full length and can be in fun clothes showing off a little fashion and then “lifestyle” pics which show the child doing something active instead of just standing there.

I’m going to show you some from my daughter’s recent session with Alex Kruk, an LA photographer who comes to New York for a few days at a time to shoot in the warmer months.  She first photographed my daughter when she was four and I’ve been in love with Alex’s work ever since.

Headshot (Legit — TV, Film, theater)

Headshot (Commercial)

Modeling shot

Lifestyle shot

Behind the scenes: Alex and her husband James

Behind the scenes: with Christina Turino, HMUA

When you’re selecting a photo package, be sure you talk to the photographer about what to wear.  They usually send a list and you just bring a big bag of stuff and the photographer will select outfits that will look best in the setting and highlight the child’s features.

Also discuss hair and makeup.  Most photographers have a hair and makeup artist they work with and I opt in for that package addition because my daughter has very long hair that needs attention.  Makeup is usually very minimal and would consist of a bit of blush and concealer if necessary as well as a neutral lip gloss. That’s the most they would need. This session’s HMUA (hair and makeup artist) was Christina Turino, who does great work with kids.

At our agency, we have four headshot options (two legit; two commercial) the on-camera agents use and the modeling agents use those as well as some full-length and lifestyle looks in her portfolio.  One session can provide all the photos necessary if your child is a model and actor — especially if you communicate with the photographer. Your work with the photographer should be a collaboration.  Be sure you each know what the other one needs/plans and you’re all in agreement. Photo packages in NYC are running close to $500-$600 and up, so you want to come out with everything you need.

There are many great photographers.  Your agent can recommend who is “hot” and the moment and/or who might do the best work with your child.  There are young/apprentice photographers who will do a no-frills, one-look, no HMUA session for a low price and that can be a good headshot option if you’re starting out and budget is a major issue — but use one that other people are using, not your neighbor’s cousin’s babysitter.  You want someone at least slightly proven.

I tend to stay in the box when choosing a photographer BUT I like to have a look a little different from what’s totally on trend at the moment — one reason why I chose an LA photographer who comes to NYC.  But there are so many great photographers to choose from — just go with your tastes as much as the recommendations from the experts in the industry. You need to be very happy with these photos — not just ok with them because that’s who everyone else uses.

I’m about a year and a half out of the agent seat so I don’t maintain a list or really even name photographers off the top of my head, so I’m not going to give any additional recommendations.  One reality is that kid models who work all the time really don’t need modeling pics because they have their tearsheets (actual modeling work like ads or catalogs) to use in their portfolios. If they act, however, they will still need pro headshots.

If you’d like to get in touch with Alex Kruk, her email is  You can reach me here, check out my instagram @thebizzymama, like the Facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or email me at

(Note:  I received no special price or other consideration for using Alex's work in this blog.  She granted me permission to write about her.)