Thursday, April 30, 2015

"She outta be in pictures!"

Recently, I was interviewed about being a model-mom.  I was asked a question that’s actually pretty common: “Where do you see this going for your daughter?  What is your ultimate goal?”  I think when I answer, I probably gave a response that would be similar to most of the moms I know in the NYC print market…which is TV, movies, and commercials.  It seems like a natural progression, right?  My kid is cute, kids on TV are cute, so voila!  Now, there are some answers that may be more specific to print, such as a bucket list of clients or maybe a Vogue Bambini cover.  I do know a few moms who wish to hang out in the print world, and that’s fine.  I personally think it’s fun and cool to see my kid in pictures, but honestly after a while it becomes a lot of work with a relatively small financial compensation.  (I’ll talk more about the money in the future.)  My ultimate goal?  SAG national commercial for a non-seasonal product, principal role in a film with an Oscar winning director or writer, and a recurring role on a TV show that lasts more than 3 seasons.  (Syndication, baby!)  I’ll take a side of Vogue Bambini with a gap store window, but hold the mayo.

This is where you can laugh yourself off of your chairs, because I could probably have better luck winning the lottery.

I’ll veer off for a second here.  If you follow casting sites or get casting emails, you see terms like “singers who dance” and “dancers who sing” in breakdowns for stage work.  If you think about Broadway for a minute, you typically assume that the actors are the whole package – obviously they can sing AND dance.  Now I’ll bring this back around to our kids.  I think it’s true that there are print kids who do TV and TV kids who do print.  (I’m going to use the term “TV” to refer to all on-camera work – commercials, TV, and film – just to make it easier to write.)  I didn’t realize that until fairly recently, maybe within the past year or so.  Because so many of the moms and kids I know do both, I just assumed that was what happened for the most part.

I’ll explain a bit about how getting into the TV stuff works.  Generally speaking, TV agencies will sign a kid once the kid is about five and has reading skills.  The kids need to be able to read sides (the lines for a commercial or a scene from a show) for auditions.  They need to be able to read them ahead of time, learn them, and be able to take a quick glance at them if they need a line when auditioning.  This sounds hard for ME, let alone a five-year-old kiddo.  For roles that are for babies or toddlers, agencies typically choose from managers’ kids.  For the roles in the 4-6 year old range, many kids who play those parts are 6 or older.  Six is a big age for child performers, because the number of hours they can be on set (under New York Child Performer Law) jumps from six to ten hours.  If something is filming over the course of a day, it can be hard to schedule one person in a restricted time block.  It does not mean that the kid would work ten hours straight – there are all sorts of regulations for rest and meals – but allowing the kid to be on set that long is easier for production.  There are also restrictions under the unions like SAG (on-camera) and Equity (stage).  Law supersedes union, which means the union cannot allow the kids to work more hours than the law states, but unions can create more protections and restrictions for child performers.

So, basically, if you’re thinking of TV work, five or so is usually the magic age.  It was a little earlier for us.  My daughter got signed by an agency at age three – she was incredibly verbal, expressive, and outgoing (that translates into she always asks questions and never shuts up).  Even though most of the roles she goes out for tend to go to older girls, she is very comfortable with learning lines and auditioning.  We’re working on the stuff that goes along with that now, like responding to feedback during an audition (be sadder, be happier, be surprised, etc.).  Imagine walking into a room of strangers, bright lights, and a camera at age 3 or 4 and being able to bang out a performance.  That’s the kind of thing that made me realize my daughter had something a little special and extraordinary – and I should pursue performing arts for her since she seemed to have a talent for it.

Let’s fast forward a year or so.  I wanted to consider options for the future, and I wasn’t really thrilled with the agency where we had started.  I felt like it was very heavy on commercial for kids, and not as strong with legit (on-camera/TV).  I decided to shop around a little bit, and decided to meet with at least one different agency and one manager.  My daughter was only four, but had a couple of commercials under her belt, so we were able to get appointments pretty easily.  I scheduled the appointments for the same day, and we met with the manager first.  I waited outside the office while my daughter went in, and within moments heard her chatting up a storm.  She does this thing when she goes into offices – which, now that I write it, sounds totally creepy – where she wants to sit at the desk and play office.  This typically involves about $10 worth of post-it notes as well.  Anyway, some people find it charming.  She wants to take charge and own the conversation.  Sounds annoying, right?  That, however, is the kind of personality agents and managers look for in child performers.

After a while, the assistant invited me in.  The manager gushed over my daughter, and told me this: “When she walked in the door, I thought I was looking at a print kid.  And then she opened her mouth.”

That’s when I started to think about the whole print kid versus TV kid thing.  When I go to print go-sees, I typically see at least several moms I know and kids I recognize.  It’s like a little meet up or reunion, sort of…for print kids.  When I go to TV auditions, I may see a kid or two that I know, but there is a whole different crop of kids there.  These are the TV kids.  While I know that personality is essential for the TV side, I’m not really sure what the other differences are in the kids.  Everyone looks great.  Honestly, I don’t know a lot of “just TV” moms, but I would love to get their view on the whole thing.  Did they try print and not like it?  Did their kids not have a “print look”?  Or was it never even on their radar?

TV moms, give me your take on all of this.  I’d love to hear your perspective on the print side.  I started some thread over on Backstage (or here) or feel free to add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I’ve taken a few days of lately, so I need some love!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When the discount...discounts.

I went to a prep school.  I wasn't your typical affluent kid from the city or the suburbs.  I was a little more rural (northwestern CT) but raised in a traditional middle class home that valued education.  I loved my teachers and was a pretty good student and made the school proud of my college acceptances.  I was a "day student" meaning that I attended classes and activities but went home at night, so maybe one could argue that I didn't get the "full boarding school experience."    I managed to remedy that by returning to the school at age twenty-two to live in the dorms and teach...wait for it...Latin.  Well, also American History and Journalism, but for the most part: Latin.  I was a dorm head, which meant I lived in an apartment in a dorm with my family and supervised 30-40 kids as well as a handful of dorm parents.  I was pretty young for my position, but assured that I was "wise beyond my years" on multiple occasions.  I did that for eight years.  Oh, the yeah, I managed to absorb that "full boarding school experience."

So the school is about to celebrate its centennial.  Kind of a big deal.  I was a senior when they celebrated the seventy-fifth.  Remember it well.

And I got this letter in the mail.  (Hold on a second.)

I'll say it came at a bad time.  Things have been a little heavy in my world.  And the teaching profession is not exactly in a feel-good mode right now.  But you know what?  Things were kind of heavy back in those days of work there as well.  I still have anxiety-ridden dorm dreams.

So I'll share my response with you, because you know what?  Man, it pi$$ed me off.

Here goes:

Dear ___:

I would like to express my reaction to a letter I received offering an invitation to attend the Centennial Reunion at a "discounted rate."  While I was well aware of the occasion due to the numerous mailings and did NOT plan on attending, I found the letter and invitation I received from you to be highly insulting.

I realize that there are many former faculty members that you may wish to include in the event.  I also realize that there are alumni faculty members who, perhaps, may have a somewhat more vested interest in attending the festivities.  However, it may be the case that some of these former faculty members put in a more substantial amount of time into their work at __.  For example, I put eight years into my work at ___.  I was a dorm head each of those years for 29-36 students, taught, advised, and perhaps influenced kids numbering into the hundreds during those years.  I had my sons while at ___, and they spent for the first few years in the dorms, providing that "family atmosphere" and supervision ___ proudly and successfully offered its students throughout its one-hundred years.

Perhaps you mean well with your "discount" but does that discount acknowledge the eight years worth of hours I spent in the middle of the night sitting up with kids in the hospital?  Awaiting news on runaways?  Calling a mother in another country to inform her that her daughter was expecting a child?  (The baby was named after me and is graduating from high school next month -- I couldn't be prouder of her and her mother.)  Sitting with a girl to prevent her from committing suicide while her parents rushed to (town) from New York?  Inviting kids into my home for countless dinners, brownies, band-aids, and well-needed listening and attention?

Frankly, your form-letter invitation to a discounted "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" was nothing short of insulting and belittling to the time I spent dedicated to a school that I believed had been so integral to my growth and development.  Twelve years of my life and dedication merits me...a discount for a dinner dance?

I'm also quite certain that in the course of the events that weekend, a picture of me interviewing Sargent Shriver (that's me in the red dress) for the (school newspaper) may surface, reminiscing about the seventy-five year celebration of ___.  There's a little piece of ___ history I felt attached to as well.

So, I am replying with a resolute NO THANK YOU to your invitation.  Additionally, please remove me from any mailing lists (fundraising, invitations, magazines, etc.) from ___.  I can assure you that I have made my contribution and I wish for no more requests.  I would, however, appreciate continuing to receive any death notifications of former classmates.  I trust that you will be able to indicate my preference in your database.

Best regards,

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Real Housewives of the Secret Shame

We all have secret shames.  I probably have more than most; I’ll hang a few out there for you.  I eat Girl Scout cookies in the dark after ferreting them out of hiding places in my pantry.  I have a purse farm in my son’s closet that I sometimes just go and look at…yet I carry the same old bags all the time.  I have clothes in my closet from every adult size I have ever been – despite Real Simple’s ongoing admonishment to purge. 

I am a Bravo TV junkie.

Hardcore.  When I was kvetching about having no internet in Florida last week, I was at least – if not more – distraught about not having access to my Bravo shows.  I just didn’t advertise it as much.  Now that you know I can, in fact, have words with a woman at the Target Lilly event, you might as well know about my Bravo thing.  I’m particularly fond of the Real Housewives.  In order: NYC, BH, NJ/OC (tie), ATL.  รง you wondered, right?  And I watch all the other Bravo shows, too, sooooo…it’s just kind of my thing.  And I watch them over and over.  Like, my TV has only one channel, for the most part.  Mind you, I don’t pay attention every minute, but I can be pretty sure that by the third time I’ve had the episode on I’ve seen every bit of it.

If you’re turning up your nose at me, reflect a moment.  People have said “Eeewww, how can you watch that!”-type things to my face.  I didn't exactly go all Target-animal on them, but...I’m sure you have some show or thing or whatever I might not understand.  Maybe it’s football or dog shows or something.  Thank goodness for my mom.  My mother (shout out!!!  Hi, mom!) is a fellow Bravo devotee, and we have been known to discuss these people as if they are our family members.  Like, seriously in-depth analytical conversations.  And I’d love to be an episode re-capper!  I don’t think I could ever top Julie Klausner, who did the recaps for NY Magazine before she began writing her own show, so I’m afraid to even try.

Do you think less of me?  I mean, I’ve talked a good game about my knowledge of the child modeling industry.  I’m quite well-educated.  I read good stuff.  I have mad investigative skills.  I guess I am a little paranoid, though.  People judge, right?  And reality TV does seem to rank at the bottom of some people’s TV food chains.  Tell me that you are a Bravo junkie, though, and it’s like we have a bond.

Sometimes, I wonder, would I ever do reality TV?  Have I watched so many hours of Bravo shows that I know better?  Or would it be kind of fun?  Is it like a New York street shell game: you think you’ve studied all the ins and outs and can outsmart the producers?  Or will you have your season of being a total b!otch/skank/psycho regardless?  What about a scripted series based on my life where I play myself but have creative control?  Because those are becoming things now, too.  Julie Klausner has one coming out.

This is where you hear the record screeching to a dead stop noise: would I be interesting enough to watch?

Well, I guess that ended that!

Going on a little adventure this weekend.  It may or may not be related to this post.  I may or may not have anything interesting to report back.  But like any good reality show, you need a good cliffhanger…so there you go!

What’s your take on reality TV?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I’m somewhere in the top 50!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Wanna lick? Psych!" or: My kid was the backup.

Back in high school, my friends and I used to love watching Eddie Murphy stand-up comedy.  One friend in particular (shout out!!!  Not a model mom, but I’ll make her read this today!) could perform the sketches with amazing accuracy and timing.  A bit I remember particularly was about the ice cream truck coming and a kid who gets an ice cream and holds out the cone  to offer a lick…”Wanna lick?” and then pulls it back and says, “Psych!”  That’s basically been burned into my brain for 25 years.  Cracks me up every time.  (Here’s a link to the bit…warning: strong language and sexy black man in red leather.)

So my point is this: sometimes modeling can be “Wanna lick? … Psych!”  A friend (shout out!!!) messaged me last night wondering if I was going to take on the subject of…dramatic pause…being a backup kid at a photo shoot.

I can say, without fail, that my daughter’s three best bookings (in terms of “name” and “coolness” – not necessarily in terms of money or exposure) were a jewelry company that features blue boxes and two shoots for a doll company that features – hmmm, well, let’s just say it can take your kid’s college fund rather quickly if you buy their stuff.  I think you get what I’m saying, right?  But those three shoots?  No pictures.  She shot both times for the dolls – one they shot four girls and chose one for the ad campaign, and the other time they shot a ton of girls and used a few but I never found pictures of my daughter.  She never even shot for the jewelry company; she just stayed on set during the shoot and two other girls shot.  She got paid for all three; and not even a bad rate.  Same rate as the girls who shot.  (Well, the first doll shoot paid hourly and then a usage fee for the girl they selected, and obviously we didn’t get the usage fee.  It was the first job for the girl who did print, so I was very happy for her.  Shout out!!!)  So, for all three of those shoots?  “Wanna lick?  Psych!”

Now I’ll give you the opposite scenario.  I got a call one random summer afternoon that my daughter had been selected to be the backup for an insurance company shoot.  It was a big production shoot by an ad agency (love those) and paid extremely well just for backup.  I didn’t even remember going to the go-see.  I was like, “Hellz yeah, we’ll sit around and do nothing for that money!”  When we got to the shoot, the producer told us we both girls would shoot and both would be paid the same principal rate (fist bump!) and then after all was said and done, my daughter was the one who printed.  (Not my favorite tear sheet by any stretch of the imagination – shelooked kind of haggard – but it was a fun shoot on a beach on a gorgeous summer day.)

What you need to know, especially with younger kids, is that it’s entirely likely that you may go to a shoot and not shoot.  Or not print.  Or maybe it printed somewhere but you will never find it.  Or maybe your kid’s feet will print.  Or you’ll be in the window of the gap with a giant flower covering your kid’s face.  Or maybe you’ll get to the shoot and your kid will be a total beast that day and no amount of iPad/candy/toy/playground bribery will get a good mood.  Any one of those things can happen and you need to be totally ready for it.  For babies, they may hire two or even four babies to get one look shot, the first one may nail it, and the others will get sent home.  Everyone gets paid (although occasionally there are separate rates for backup, but that is more the exception than the rule).  Yay! Your kid booked, but sorry; no tear sheets to look for in a few months.

One company regularly books at least two and sometimes more kids to shoot for their products and ads, and they are very likely to shoot the first kid and send the others home if they like the pics.  That’s a toy store where we have all dropped a ton of money, I’m sure.  You need to go to those shoots fully prepared not to shoot; and if you do, you need to be prepared not to print.  It’s just part of the whole business.  Every year we choose a catch phrase in my house.  One year we chose a phrase from a commercial for a septic tank product.  The phrase?  “Flush and pray.”  In other words, go for it – and hope it works out.  If it doesn’t, there’s always next time.

Flush and pray!

What did I leave out?  Any questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I’ve made it to the top 50!

The insurance company shoot with the "grandma" (like, a couple years older than me!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Veteran Moms Weigh in on "Requests"

Yesterday my friends (shout outs!!!) had some great reactions when I posted that I wrote about requests.  I thought I would share their reactions so you can get some more candid perspectives on the meaning of a “request.”  These are their own words.

  • Excuse me a WHAT ? Request casting ? You mean size request casting with 1/2 of the city ??
  • Request castings where ONLY THE KID REQUESTED WILL BE SEEN. Anyone not on the list will be turned away at the door. Well, except for *that one over there.*
  • Oh and by size request I mean they will book the kid totally out of size?!?
  • There is also the "request go see" when the client doesn't see pic submissions but asks the agencies to send a set amount of kids that fit the breakdown. Now it's up to your agency. If your agency has too many of your child's type or are not on their radar they might not be sent although they fit the breakdown. It's so unpredictable. Then there's the kid who books that didn't even go to the casting.
  • Lol!!! I don't believe any are request…and I think most are pre-casted in fashion.
  • And you do have the specific requests if child is being used as a "prop" with a mom or family.
  • I love the requests when it's for a headless kid!
  • Or when they request knowing they like baby teeth & your child had adult teeth the last 2 castings…or has two missing teeth in front. 

So, as you can see, there is some skepticism among the veteran model moms!

My daughter has two legit auditions scheduled over the next couple of days…”legit” is the term for on-camera work that is not commercial (such as TV and film).  One is for a small role in a new sitcom and the other is for a role in an indy film.  I haven’t written much about that side of the performer business, but I’ll save all that stuff for the future.  In the meantime, break a leg, kiddo!

What did I leave out?  Any questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the mommy blogger icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I think I’ve made it to #46!

Kids playing after a big "request"...running into friends is the best part of the business.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Request? Whatever!

One question that new model moms – well, no, not just new model moms – ask is, “What exactly is a request (go-see/casting)?”  The simple answers is: a client sees pictures (and stats of kids), sees your kid, and requests that your kid (and probably others) come in for a go-see.  Sounds pretty straight-forward.  And, it also sounds flattering.  Like, they wanted to see my kid!

Here’s my insight on requests.  I can boil it down to one word:  whatever.  I’ll say it again: whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  I’ve been to requests in which my daughter was the only kid requested for a certain outfit in a certain campaign (I might even call that an “unpaid fitting”) and I’ve been to requests that were hundreds of kids.    Whatever.  It really doesn’t matter.  A client needs kids, a client sees kids, a client books kids.  A client can see one kid or fifty kids that fit your kid’s breakdown – sure, your odds of booking might be better – but no matter what, the client is going to book the kids the client wants at that moment in time.

Here’s the scenario to imagine.  A client emails an agency and gives a set of breakdowns.  Let’s just assume these are the standard sample sizes (see my earlier post about these).  The agency puts together a package of their kids who fit the breakdowns and the client looks through these and chooses some kids to see at a casting.  This is what one might call the typical “request.”  Great!  Your kid caught the casting director’s eye.  Yay!  Cool!  You get an email from the agency with the specifics of the casting (where and when), the dates of the shoot (to make sure you’re available) and the rate of pay should you book the job.  Some agencies send these as soon as they get the info and some wait until the day before.  Then you go to the casting, maybe try on clothes or just have a couple of pictures taken, and you’re on your way.

The opposite of the “request” is a “cattle-call.”  Picture a ton of kids and parents trudging along a line to be seen.  Picture waiting in a narrow hallway, bumping into people and strollers, and maybe waiting outside in the cold rain for two hours.  (Sounds kind of Soviet, doesn't it?)  We picture a client saying to the agent, “send us all of your size 3, 5, and 8 kids.”  Every kid in New York shows up, it’s a mess, and you spend a fortune on parking.  Little kids will get restless and cry.  Ok, I’ve been at this over three years and I’ve been to exactly one of these…and it was pretty soon after we started.  Fortunately, I didn’t really know any better, and for all I knew, that could have been every casting.

I have to say that I think most agents and clients have worked together to reform the “cattle-call” style of casting.  Through a combination of timing and specific casting parameters, I rarely hear of anyone having that awful snake-around-the-corner experience anymore.  Most (I won’t go as far as saying “all”) castings are pretty well-run, pretty efficient, and mostly painless.  Maybe you’ll wait half an hour or occasionally a little more from time to time, but I think the days of those crazy “cattle-calls” are behind us.  The ones with the longest wait seem to be the ones where kids try on clothes and the photographers take a good few minutes with pictures for each kid.  At least when you wait through those, you feel like your kid got a decent shot.  At that casting I described earlier, they literally took ONE photo of my kid.  (She didn’t book that round, but it was a client who books a good number of kids, so it makes sense that they saw a lot of kids.)

So, the nature of a “request” can range.  One kid, ten kids, fifty kids… “Send me 5 ethnically-ambiguous boys, 40”-43”…” or “Send me every size 5 kid you have and stagger their times over two hours.”  My agency does not even specify whether or not it is a “true request” or mega-casting.  Every email my agency sends says “Go-see request” and that is fine by me.  We’re going to go – what difference does it make how many kids are going to be seen?  The only thing that matters is timing, but even that is a crapshoot.  The go-see we went on Saturday was seeing hundreds of kids over a few days and we were there for five minutes.  You might wait forty-five minutes for three kids to be seen some other place.  In fact, I think almost all of the big name castings over the past month saw a ton of kids and I really haven’t heard any horror stories about wait times.  Some were more organized than others, but isn’t that the way of everything?

Now that you know my treatise on castings, hopefully you understand my “whatever!” attitude.  I don’t really know when my daughter is specifically requested or not, and that’s ok!  Just go, meet some people, make it fun, and roll with the process.  Go in with a good attitude and don't be like that troll I met in Target.  You’ll either book…or you won’t. 

At some point, when the mood strikes me…I will take on the subject of holds.  Let’s just say I have a similar philosophy.

What did I leave out?  Any questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I think I’ve made it to the top 50!

This was a "true request": one kid, one outfit.  I went in a blizzard.  I was crazy then.  And, NO, you don't get to keep the clothes!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Go-See with...Me!!!

For those of you in the NYC area, you may have noticed the glorious weather on Saturday.  I did, in fact, bring that weather with me from Vero Beach.  Just to hold onto my Vero living.  So, you’re all welcome.  It was the least I could do!

My daughter had a go-see on Saturday.  I thought I would tell you about the day.  It was a pretty typical go-see, so you can get an idea of what happens.  A quick note on terminology: many agencies call “go-sees” castings.  It’s the same thing.  “Go-see” originates from literally going and seeing the client.  If you’ve ever watched America’s Next Top Model, that’s the part when they drop the contestants into some far-away non-English speaking land and make them fend for themselves.  Go to the designer, sometimes try on clothes, stand still for a few pictures, maybe get measured, and you’re on your way.

Here’s the timeline of our day.  We were aiming for a 2:30 appointment at Pier 59 Studios, which is at Chelsea Piers – a mostly athletic complex right on the Hudson River in spanning from about 18th Street to about 23rd Street.

11:00am          I lazily tell my daughter we need to get ready.  We’re both still in PJs, and I planned to get us both into the shower…but she protested and I thought she was clean enough…so I got ready by myself, after I watched TV for about 15 more minutes.  (What can I say…I had a lot of reality TV to catch up on after my trip.)

11:40am          I assessed my daughter’s outfit.  She had on a baseball-style cat shirt from Gap, a cat applique twirly skirt from Mini Boden, and Dalmatian print leggings from Oshkosh.  This outfit pretty much exemplifies a Glamour-Don’t (did anyone ever read that column?  Do they still run that?) and contradicts everything I’ve said about what to wear…but I let it go, throwing a solid-colored shirt into the bag and figuring I’ll take off the leggings and change the shirt before we get out of the car.

11:45am          I do my hair.  Blow-dry and straighten a bit.  It’s been a while – I didn’t bring my hair stuff to Florida because…vacation!

12:00noon       I throw some juice bags and goldfish into the mom-bag, approve my daughter’s shoe choice (sparkly salmon-pink slip-on Vans) and get us out into the car.  I’m a little off my mom-bag game since I had rearranged stuff to bring on the trip, so I make an extra quick check and make sure we have some photos.

12:10pm          I set my WAZE app (and if you don’t have this app, GET IT NOW) to the destination address.  WAZE is a real-time, user-updated GPS/traffic app.  Now, I know how to get into the city, and this particular studio is about as easy as it  gets to get to.  However, I ALWAYS use WAZE because it will give me the best route based on traffic, construction, accidents, etc.  It gives me different routes at different times of day and different days of the week because it knows.  It just does.  And you don’t question WAZE.  Even if you think you know much better how to do something, just follow WAZE.  It will always backfire if you try to outsmart it.  WAZE tells me my arrival time will be 2:05.  Perfect!  Plenty of time!

1:00pm            I get off the highway in Danbury to get an unsweetened iced tea at McDonald’s.  It’s the best deal in town and really good tea.  There may or may not have been a happy meal involved.  (Hey, it’s My Little Pony week.)  When I’m back on the highway, WAZE adds 10 minutes to my trip.  I’m skeptical, but I carry on.

1:40pm            Traffic has been smooth sailing.  The day is gorgeous.  Yay!

1:45pm            WAZE updates me that traffic is building up ahead and sure enough, as I hit about 60th Street on the West Side Highway, we begin crawling.  Boo!  Here’s the thing about the city in April.  This is when the first really great weather happens.  April 18th, I’m thinking, is probably on the late end.  For sure, however, this is when people emerged from their hibernation in DROVES and everyone in the city headed toward the Hudson riverfront to bike, jog, walk…and whatever.  There’s always a whatever.  And the Citibikes were out in full force.  I hate Citibikes.

I’m going to take a moment away from my timeline to write about Citibikes.  Citibikes are rental bikes that are stationed throughout New York City.  The program is partially sponsored by Citibank, hence the “citi” in Citibike.  The system allows riders to rent a bike at any station and return it to any station.  I’m not sure what they cost (because I would go nowhere near one) but to me, Citibikes are a symbol of the downfall of civilization.  What a great idea, though.  In theory, city folk will make use of these reasonably priced and widely available bikes, freeing up traffic and being all environmentally friendly and stuff.  THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS.  If you’ve ever been in New York, you know that cyclists are CRAZY and the good ones are very good at getting where they need to go with minimal injury or traffic disruption.  I did once get swiped by one in Times Square on my way to work in 1994, but a dry cleaning bill for my new Burberry trench was really the only casualty.  Citibikes, however?  These are novice cyclists.  They do not know the rules of the road and bike riding etiquette.  Like, DON’T CROSS IN FRONT OF ME IN HEAVY TRAFFIC WHEN I HAVE A GREEN LIGHT.  Ok, enough. 

2:00pm            WAZE starts telling me it will take even more time.  I have about 40 blocks to go, which is about 2 miles.  Traffic is crawling, and there is some low-level gridlock.  Pedestrians are not clearing the crosswalks in time which means cars aren’t all getting through the intersections…and it’s just par for the course for a sunny Saturday in April in New York City.

2:15pm            I’m still a few blocks away and realizing there will be no good parking.  I took my minivan thinking I could get street parking – and that was a dumb move, because now I will have to park in a garage and some garages charge more for “oversized” vehicles.  (As if driving a minivan isn’t enough of a punishment, they need to impose a financial penalty.)  I also get a message that my friend (shout out!!!) is at a playground nearby with her kids and if I’m done quickly at the go-see we might be able to hang out. 

2:25pm            Still circling.    I have come to the realization that I need to park…in a garage…in which…I once had a heated argument with a very mean parking attendant…(now you know about 2 of my heated arguments; seriously, they are VERY infrequent).  I had planned on boycotting this garage forever, but at this point, I just need to PARK.  The scary attendant was not working, but I am informed they will charge me extra.  I just need to run at this point.  I make my daughter remove the Dalmatians in the car, but I let the cat shirt stay on.  I’m choosing my battles.

2:35pm            I’m rushing along Eleventh Avenue to a place where I can get across the West Side Highway onto the Chelsea Piers sidewalk.  I see my friend’s kids climbing in the playground and I want to stop…but I’m rushing…(So much for WAZE giving me all sorts of good info about arrival time…parking and walking is taking forever!)

2:40pm            We arrive a little late.  The go-see looks pretty chill…two or three kids waiting.  I sign in at the table and fill out a paper with my daughter’s name and agency.  A woman takes her over to some measuring tapes on the wall, and measures my daughter at 109 cm.  Without any waiting, the photographer brings her over to the cyclorama (a part of the studio that is rounded where the wall meets the floor so there is no “crease” in photographs).  She snaps a few pics, cajoles a couple of different looks (serious, smile, etc.) from my daughter, and we are done in about 5 minutes.

2:45pm            We run into some friends (shout out!!!)…well, my friend’s mother, who has my friend’s almost-five year old son with her.  We wait for them to finish, and then we decide to walk to the park.  These pick-up play dates are one of the most fun things about go-sees on weekends.  People usually have a few extra minutes to relax and hang out.

2:55pm            We arrive at the park, which has a great playground and features water sprinklers during hot weather.  It’s hot, 80 degrees!!!, but not water-at-the-park hot.  Unfortunately, my other friend had to leave before we got there to get her family packed for vacation.  The kids play, the sun is fabulous, and I talk about kindergarten learning strategies with my friend’s mom, who is a recently-retired kindergarten teacher.

3:50pm            My daughter informs me that she is tired and wants to go home.  Well, ok, then!  It’s been a long enough day.

3:55pm            We’re back in the car, heading out of the city.  I ignore WAZE’s directive to head up Tenth Avenue, preferring to just stay on the West Side Highway.  WAZE tells me I will spend 7 more minutes in traffic, but I can handle that.  And, of course, WAZE was right…traffic crawled until about 79th Street…and then it was pretty smooth sailing.

6:05pm            We arrived home, loved up the dog (we hadn’t seen her for a week), and chilled out.

Now we wait!  The shoots are in May, so it will probably be a while before holds and bookings go out.  Set it and forget it!  Thanks for joining me on our go-see!

What did I leave out?  Any questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown banner below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger! 

I'm gonna go with...what not to wear.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My "Wannabe" Target Lilly Experience

I’ve been wondering if I should even tell you about the b!tch fight I had this morning with a NASTY woman at Target…who had the nerve to call me an animal since I didn’t realize she was crawling on the ground reaching for a Lilly Pulitzer deck umbrella.  But, hey, why not.  We’re all friends here, right?  I got up early like all good Lilly aficionados to stand on line outside my local Target (and by local. I mean LOCAL – not even one whole song on the radio local).  The line was full of jovial women in good spirits; eager to get their Lilly on.  I waited about 15 minutes, proceeded to follow my strategy of accessories, children’s, beauty accessories and then home goods.  At home goods, I was reaching for a set of wine glass tags when this woman yelled – to no one in particular, I thought – to move out of her way.  I realized there was a woman on the ground trying to pull a large item from the bottom shelf of the display.  Of course I moved out of the way and probably excused myself, not realizing I had gotten all up in her jam.  She then carried the giant thing to her cart and said something quite loudly under her breath about me being an animal.  Deep cleansing breath.  Another deep cleansing breath.  I walked back over to her and said, “We’re all having fun here this morning.  You just need to be nice.”  Obviously, I’ve spent too much time as a teacher, because any other sane person would have told the woman exactly where to go and how to get there.  She proceeded to raise her voice and tell me how rude I was.  Me! 

And then.  This happened.  This really happened. 

She said, “If you could afford the real thing, you wouldn’t be here.  Wannabe!”

All I could say was, “You’re here too!”  As if I was some slug of the earth by waiting on line at Target to get Lilly Pulitzer designed for Target at Target prices.  And she was ahead of me on the line!  Buying the same cut-rate Lilly I was buying!  She then went on to continue calling me rude and I reminded her once or twice more that she was in exactly the same place I was.  And all I wanted was for her to be NICE.  Like every other person in the store was this morning.  But no, she had to call me out for standing in a place where I couldn’t even see her.  But I’m a wannabe.  I guess because I actually WAS in the Lazy Daisy in Vero Beach three days ago, I deserve to have some miserable ***censored*** tell me anything about what I can and cannot afford.  Of course I could not afford to buy what I bought this morning at actual Lilly retail.  But I want to point out: SHE WAS THERE TOO!  And, I’m nice.  And I don’t need to say sh!tty stuff to people to feel better about myself.  (And, for the record, I started my Lilly collection about 17 years ago when the brand re-launched after being on hiatus for a while.  True that I’ve never paid full retail – but I don’t pay full retail for anything.  And let’s just say that if I were 50 lbs lighter, I’d have a significant assortment of fabulous Lilly things to wear on a regular basis.  Am I over-compensating here?  Maybe.  But, please, IRONY!)

So I’m just going to say that I won Target this morning and that despicable troll can just go back to her superior cave and grow some moss where she belongs.  And, as a friend (shout out!!!) pointed out, we're all animals.  At least I'm housebroken!

How did your Target experience go this morning?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown banner below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I'm #12 in Family Life blogs.  Can we go higher?
Already wearing the "princess dress"

Friday, April 17, 2015

Size matters!

Ahhh, home.  As great as vacation is, it’s hard to top that just-pulled-into-the-driveway feeling.  Well, until you actually stop the car and have to pull out the suitcases.  This was a three-generation trip for us; we traveled to Florida with my wife’s father and brother to visit my wife’s aunt and cousin.  My 87-year-old father-in-law was adamant that he would not make the trip, but my wife bombarded him with daughter-guilt at the very last minute and we actually got him to go visit his sister with us.  It was a great time, but also long enough with that many people traveling together and staying with family – we kept within everyone’s range of ability and stayed just long enough not – I hope – to be a total imposition.  My wife and I did have an epiphany, yesterday, while standing in the lazy low-tide waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  We are Vero people and we want the Vero life.  Never mind that there are at least 25 years until any hope of retirement…we are Vero people, damnit, and we will live life as such.

Anyway, we’ll live the Vero dream but we’ll just have to do it back in the Northeast.  Tomorrow that will involve getting the dog back from the kennel (missed her, but I am enjoying the fact that I left food on the counter and don’t have to worry about it) and getting my daughter into the city for a casting.  My daughter has had a VERY slow spring for modeling.  A lot of work depends on sample sizes: companies typically have their product ready in certain sizes for the photo shoots, most of which are 4-6 months before the product gets released.  April is a HUGE month for back-to-school shoots, with campaigns that usually appear in July.  Anyway, for a long time my daughter was a sample 3T and she did pretty well.  She managed to work that 3T for a long time.  This year, she is 43”, which is a solid 4, and pretty dead.  Couple that with being away for a week and we didn’t get sent out much in April.  She did go out for a Fashion Institute of Technology runway show casting (for the students’ senior projects) and they wanted to use her but we couldn’t make the fitting today – even though all parties involved knew she probably would not be able to make it, we still went to the casting.  Sometimes they can rearrange a fitting, so it was worth a try, but it didn’t work out this time.

So this is where a lot of parents tend to get nervous.  We all know the castings all the other kids get sent, so what about our kids who aren’t getting requests?  Tough one.  Size is the #1 factor.  Period.  One of my friend’s daughters (shout out!!!) is 54” and has had an AMAZING booking history.  Her agent told her that she’s got about 4 more inches and she’s done with child modeling – which is a bummer, because she’s only 8.  (My daughter will probably be 54” in about 10 years, at the rate she’s going!).  Now, where you tend to get some variation in theories of child modeling is how much size matters.  Some parents and agents will assert that kids get “pushed” up or down sizes.  One theory is that a client will make the clothes fit any kid they really like.  The opposite theory, I suppose, is that size guidelines are very strict and not to be messed with.  Agents, by virtue of their experience, know which clients tend to work on a stricter or more flexible basis.  If you see the same kids booking the same companies season after season for years, something is going on with sizes…they are not necessarily fitting those exact sample windows.  Why does that happen?  Maybe the kids have a certain look…maybe they are great to work with and the company loves that level of consistency.  Maybe samples shift in sizing.  Maybe a butterfly flapped its wings in a rainforest in Colombia…you never know.

Parents who are new to the industry can freak out when they hit a slow patch…and it’s usually just a size thing.  Ride it out for a bit and see what happens.  The hard part is when you start second guessing everything that other kids book…and sizing up your own kid.  Honestly, I’m not freaking out much about this slow patch because I know that other girls in my daughter’s breakdown (size and “look”) are having a pretty slow season as well.  I hear parents talking (ok, by saying “parents” here I include myself) about whether or not their agents are “pushing” the kids…and some parents do get a little restless and look around at other opportunities to see if something is missing.  This feeling is normal.  For model moms, this is like wondering why your kid isn’t pooping/walking/crawling/talking/multiplying like other similar kids.  Isn’t it funny how we do that?  I think that was one of the single greatest slaps across my face in parenting: how much we compare our kids to others.  Modeling is no different.

But you know what?  It’s not just modeling.  If your kid is athletic, you’re wondering how your kid stacks up against the others.  Who gets more playing time…is the coach “pushing” my kid to get more time or just playing the same old top scorers?  Is my kid getting the solos he/she deserves at dance and music?  I’m a high school teacher, and I can say without ANY reservation that parents don’t stop – they compare their kids’ scores on everything.  Why did THAT kid get into Stanford when MY kid had higher SAT scores?!?!?  Modeling is no different from any other activity in that way.  Size matters.  Looks matter.  Personality matters.  Want to book?  Have the exact combination the casting director and client want that day at that minute.  Talk to any admissions officer at a top college and you’ll likely get a similar algorithm.  (Incidentally, I totally grilled my daughter’s kindergarten teacher about where she stacked up in reading skills in relation to the rest of her class.  Let’s just say kindergarten isn’t what it used to be back when my boys were that age.  She’s already written the proposal for her doctoral dissertation and it’s only April.)

I’m not sure I shed much light on anything here, but things have been slow for us and I wanted to share that element of the business as well as the high points.  I’ll let you know how things go tomorrow.  If you see me tomorrow, say hi!  It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day in the city.  Not Vero Beach gorgeous, but hey…I’m living the Vero life.  Tomorrow it will be in NYC.

What did I leave out?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown banner below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Because beach.

Beach time with the fam.  I'm thinking of all the reasons I'd love to live near a warm, sunny beach (that's like, reasons 1-117 alone) and then a quite serious list of why I simply cannot live in this climate...the most significant of which is...


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Planning MY Vacation!

It's 1:20 am and I need to have my family on a plane tomorrow.  We're taking a 3-generation family trip to visit my wife's aunt in Florida.  I've been super excited for this trip, but I was pretty much on my a$$ Friday and Saturday with a stomach bug...and today we were at a photo here I am fumbling around in a quasi-comatose stupor trying to figure out what to pack.  (Ironic that I wrote a piece about this the other day, right?)

So right about now I'm dreaming about my vacation -- you know what I mean: that time JUST FOR ME when we get back from our trip and I am no longer responsible for making sure everyone has what everyone needs 24/7.  My vacation will probably amount to something really great, like trip to Target all by myself.  Because, hey, I'm almost 42, have three kids, and work full time...that's what I do for fun.

I just came up with a most genius idea!  Why doesn't Target have a bar?!?!?!?  (Here in CT, Target can't even sell booze.)  Are you listening, CT lawmakers?  I will promise my vote to anyone who will push for discount department store liquor service licenses!

I've got to shut up and get some sleep.  I'm delirious.

What we were shooting yesterday...a fake wedding!

Friday, April 10, 2015

What TO Wear

I’m often asked about what kids should wear to go-sees and auditions.  I’d probably prefer to write more of a “What Not to Wear!” for the mommies, featuring me as a case study…but we’ll save that for a different day.  There’s a pretty standard answer given by agencies when they tell you how to dress your kiddo, which is “the Gap look.”  Honestly, I think it’s a pretty dated answer because if we’re talking Gap: 2015, that could be anything – they have a pretty wide assortment of clothes.  I’m thinking this is more Gap: circa 1995, when solid polos, tees, and khakis reigned king.  (Those of you Gen X’ers will remember the old chestnut, “Would you like socks with that?”)  Maybe a better definition for today would be “a little preppy” but even that sounds kind of stodgy.  I’m not going to go as far as, “Let your kid choose his or her own outfit!” because no one, including myself, wants to see my daughter in an Elsa t-shirt and stained leggings.  I’ll share a couple of my standards, and you can interpret them as you wish.

I tend to aim for solid tops.  I avoid anything overly colorful or emblazoned with giant logos, just because they may be distracting.  The problem is, it’s actually hard to find things kids really like without something written on it.  If you can snag some solid-colored shirts in colors that look good on your kids, just have some on hand and keep one or two in the mom-bag and slip it onto the kid before you walk into the casting.  If your kid has a few words or a design on the shirt, just make sure it’s toned down and definitely not a rival brand to the one that is seeing you.  My daughter’s go-to outfits have been tunic-style tops or swingy tops and leggings for cooler weather and cotton sundresses for warmer weather.  Her “lucky outfit” was a Gap chambray (that really lightweight woven denim) shirt with a slight A-line that was tunic length with grey or black leggings.  That shirt lasted for about two years.  I loved that shirt and wanted one for myself.  She’s outgrown it and I’ve replaced it with an Oshkosh version – same fabric but with small white polka dots – but it just doesn’t have that nice A-line cut and is a little shorter than I like with leggings.  She’s also getting to be more of a girl than a little girl (or toddler, when she started!) so she’s wearing more jeans – which don’t go well with chambray, of course.  We’re evolving.

In my consultation with boy moms, the same rules tend to prevail:  jeans or khakis/cargo pants or shorts, and a solid shirt – again, to the extent possible.  A surf board or lizard or something like that on a t-shirt is certainly not a deal breaker.  A lot of moms like the “shirt-jac” look of an unbuttoned shirt serving as a top layer, just to add a little interest to the outfit.  It can be easily removed if the CD wants less of a layered look.  I also think you can never go wrong with a jean jacket – boy or girl.  I think the look should match the kid’s style – if your son has long rocker hair, he’s going to look great in jeans and a baseball-style concert shirt.  When in doubt, aim toward the style of brand that’s casting. 

Notice I said the style of the brand that’s casting.  Punk-rock is probably not going to work for Vineyard Vines…and Lilly Pulitzer might not be what Vince wants to see.  (Although, I’ve been known to create great hybrid looks for myself.  My beloved sophomore year English teacher told me my style was “Laura Ashley Gets Stoned.”  I was NOT a stoner, but he was definitely onto something.  And he had an eye for style.  He was a theatre person.  I’ve been known to wear a Lebowski t-shirt with Lilly Pulitzer shorts.  It really tied the look together!  But I digress…)  I have a piece of advice, and I think many agents will be with me on this one.  I advise AGAINST wearing the brand of clothes to the brand’s casting.  Here’s why.  Designers and stylists want the clothes shown in a size that fits the kid.  And by “fits the kid”, I mean something we would call “too small.”  We always buy our kids clothes a little “up” from what they wear at that moment, because we want them to wear the clothes for more than one day.  If the stylist recognizes the brand on the child, the stylist may not like the fit – and think the child doesn’t look good in their clothes.  Here’s a major fail that we experienced: two years ago, I dressed my daughter in the brand for a casting and she booked.  Yay, me!  Great idea!  But I used that same mindset the next time we went to that company, and I put my daughter in the brand…and the agent was pushing my daughter “up” a little since she was almost but not exactly the right size…and the stylist LOOKED AT THE TAG in my daughter’s dress, saw it was smaller than the size they wanted, and BAM, I’m fairly certain that took us out of the running.  I do know of one brand that supposedly looooves seeing the kids at castings wearing their clothes, but that kind of makes me angry since I think they just want you to go out and buy some, which I refuse to do.  So, in general, I think your odds are better to aim for the “look” but not the exact brand.  And…don’t dress your kid in overly large clothes.  I don’t care if you think it’s your kid’s best outfit.  Wear a less-great outfit that fits better.

My last tip would be to realize your kid might be trying on clothes at a casting.  Try to think in terms of easy-off/easy-on – especially if your kid is older and would be changing himself/herself.  Consider the shoes in this scenario as well.  If you have a baby, a lot of castings actually like to see the baby in a diaper or solid onesie – so plan for that.  Thirty-eight snaps and 4 layers will only hold everyone up. 

What did I leave out?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown banner below my daughter's picture…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger! 
The dress that worked at the casting...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What's in MY bag?

Admit it.  You read Us magazine.  (And if you don’t, why?  Oh, right…you’re probably a more self-actualized person than I am.)  They have a page every week called, “What’s in My Bag?” and you see a star’s purse all tumbled out with things like mascaras and a debit card splayed around.  They never seem to show the Xanax and spare pair of control-tops, but whatever.  I’ll tell you what’s in my model-mom bag, because I seem to be that person who has some certain thingy that comes in really handy.

I actually tend to carry diaper bags.  Not the seafoam-green kind with little chicks on them; I opt for the more fashion-forward utilitarian types.  If you spend much time walking around New York, you’ll observe that people tend to carry bags.  Pretty substantial bags.  Really cute little purse?  Out-of-towner.  Think of all the little handy things you keep in your car.  Because New Yorkers walk and use public transportation pretty much always, all of those handy items get lugged around in bags.  (Seriously, even the guys are always carrying a backpack or something.)  I like diaper bags because they are roomy and have a ton of inner pockets.  I have a variety that I like to switch up; a couple of Kate Spades (including the one I received from my college BFF back in 1998 for my first baby shower), a Brooklyn Industries messenger bag (not actually a diaper bag, but we used it as one) and my current model, a Danzo I snagged on Gilt for less than half of retail.  This bag has pockets.  And they are clear.  CLEAR!  Genius.

Here are the essentials:

Wipes.  I don’t care how old your kid is, there will be a smudge of something somewhere.  You can transition to those adult Wet-Ones type wipes if your child would be mortified if you whipped out a packet of Huggies wipes.  Fortunately, we’re not there yet. 

Chap-stick or similar.  I’m a fan of Kiehl’s lip balm…I usually don’t do anything to my daughter’s lips, but during those times of the year when they are so dry, I like to keep them from cracking.

A red plastic folder with a bunch of those clear-plastic slide-in sheaths for all of the paperwork we need.  I have photocopies of the permit, birth certificate, social security card, and bank account paperwork.  (Now that I write this, I realize you could totally steal my daughter’s identity.  DON’T.  You need this stuff for many photoshoots and ALL on-camera work.)  I also have a book of vouchers in there.  I chose a red folder because it’s easy to spot.  I also have a zipper-pocket in there just for receipts.

Pictures.  I keep these in a sheath in the red folder as well.  I have a few 5x7s with our agency, stats, and contact info on the back; and an 8x10 or two with her on-camera resume stapled to the back.  Don’t carry too many of these around at once.  I’m almost never asked to leave them at go-sees or auditions, and if you have all the stats on the back, you’re going to end up with outdated information before you go through them all.

Medical and first aid supplies.  I always carry my own Excedrin and Benadryl, because I get allergy/sinus migraines from time-to-time and I don’t want to be caught without.  Recently, I started carrying a bottle of children’s ibuprofen as well, because my daughter got headachey and feverish at the end of a shoot and a mom who happens to be a pediatric specialist (shout out!!!) let me bum some from her stash…which made for a much more comfortable ride home for my daughter.  I also keep some Band-Aids on hand – not because we’ve ever actually needed a Band-Aid, but if you have a young child you know they can be somewhat magical.

Hair do-dads.  My daughter has long hair that gets a rotten case of car-seat head after a long ride, so I always need a brush to tame that upon arrival.  I keep some elastics as well, in case I need a quick pony tail or side braid to get her hair back (usually at on-camera auditions).  Keep it simple.  You don’t need any frilly bows or headbands.  My babysitter keeps a little spray bottle of detangler in the bag as well – very helpful.  A couple of little neutral claw-clips are good as well if you want to pin just a little hair back or off to the side.  We’re growing out bangs now, so they will become an important tool for us.

Money.  How to keep track of and pay for expenses is a subject for an entertainment accountant.  Simply, though, on a day-to-day basis, you will need small cash for tips at parking garages or tips for small purchases like Starbucks. 

Metro-cards.  If you use a lot of public transportation, keep two on hand at all times.  I have ended up several times with a stupid useless balance or a card that just won’t work despite multiple swipes.  If you need to rush and can’t wait for another train or bus, have those handy.  Recently, there have been lots of articles and tips about how much money to put on the card so you don’t end up with those useless balances.

Snacks and drinks.  You need CLEAN, dry snacks, like plain goldfish and pretzels, to avoid any staining of clothes or hands or faces.  Water is perfect, but if your kid is like my daughter and not a water person, get some clear juices like flavored waters or those colorless Capri-Suns.  If your kid only drinks whole-vegan- raw kale/mango/beet juice, I cannot help you on this one.  Throw in a couple of lollipops or a box of tic-tacs or some little treat to use as motivation or pick-me-up if necessary.  Have extra, because the other kids at the shoot will want some, too.

Lunch for picky eaters.  My daughter is a picky eater.  (Seriously, I don’t really understand why…my other kids weren’t at that age.)  See above about clean foods.  I’ll bring along a couple of simple things I know she will eat in case the lunch at a shoot is out of her tolerability range.

Spare clothes.  You never know.  I’ve whittled this down as my daughter has gotten older and I pretty much just keep socks and underwear at this point.

Purell.  Self-explanatory.

Chargers.  Notice I say chargerS.  You will always need to charge your phone and ipad at the same time.  I don’t know why that happens, but it does.  Take a small piece of paper and put your kid’s name, cell #, and agency.  Then affix that paper with a long piece of tape (so the tape folds over and covers the whole paper) to your cord.  Also label the little power block.  So many people leave chargers at studios that this little step may actually save you the need to buy a new one.  Some nice mom or production person may just save it and contact you or your agency about it.

Toys and books your kid never sees except for at shoots.  I keep a baggie of crayons and plain paper as well as a few art-type toys that only come out at shoots.  I find that plain paper is usually more satisfying and fun for more kids than coloring books.  It’s also way cheaper.  A pack of blank index cards has also known to be endlessly entertaining.  I avoid markers because of staining and markers will often freak out wardrobe people at the mere mention.  Older kids like little games like Uno and other travel-sized things.  A couple of action figures (or trolls, or ponies, or princesses) are fun, too.

Tablets are also a must.  If you are a “no electronics” parent, realize your kid will be sitting there, shoulder-to-shoulder glued to another kid and his tablet.  I’m glad you’re a no electronics parent, really, that’s great…but it’s probably not realistic in 2015 in the child performer industry.  You can always be screen-free at home and in the car.  (But…I kind of think the day you get stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel for three hours you may wish you had that tablet.)  Feel free to choose that battle if you want to, but I’m out.

Optional items: I’ve never seen such happy moms as when I pulled out a power strip at Petite Parade.  A zillion moms and two outlets?  See above: chargers.  And, let’s be honest here, no one ever regretted having a cork screw.

What did I leave out?  I’ve written this in about thirty 2-minute segments, so I’ve probably forgotten something really important.  Let me know here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or hit up my email at  I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Red flag? Run away!

Another holiday weekend down…no one got sick from too much candy and family strife was kept at a minimum. (Seventeen year old boys…anyone?  Anyone?  Rough species.)  I hope you all had a good weekend as well!

I think I’ll dig into the topic of reputable agencies.  This past Friday night, 20/20 aired a segment on the mall-trawling “talent agency” interFACE.  I’m not sure they were a nation-wide agency, but basically you would be walking through the mall or amusement park with your child and a “talent scout” would stop you.  The pitch was something like, “How old is your child?...because she is exactly what we are looking for!”  Their goal was to get you excited to think your child was being “discovered” and then sell you a bunch of photo shoot packages (all of which are completely unnecessary to beginning a child’s modeling career).  The story revealed the high-pressure sales tactics and the methods they used to prey on the dreams of children and parents.  Former employees spoke to the reporter and 20/20 sent a family in, undercover, with hidden cameras, to document the actual transactions.  Really, it was kind of sickening. 

Sickening, for sure…but if I had a dollar for every time I heard of a friend of a friend getting sucked into something like that, I’d probably be able to buy a few pitchers of margaritas and some good guac at Dos Amigos (my local Mexican joint…come join me!).  And really, other than the many red flags associated with such incredible amounts of money – thousands of dollars – how would parents know that the actual industry doesn’t work that way?  Let me think for a moment about the actual amount of money I have paid to any agency from my own pocket to represent my child.  Ok, that was easy…zero dollars.  (That is not to say there are not expenses associated with the career itself…more on that in the future.  Suffice it to say shelling out $26 to park my car is nowhere near shelling out thousands to a scam agency.)

So here’s how it works.  First of all, no agency will stop you and “discover you.”  Now, I say “no agency” and for 99.9% of the time that is what I mean.  I am aware of one agent telling me one time she stopped one kid on the street.  So, that’s one.  Has it happened other times?  Probably.  But none of the reputable NYC agencies make any practice out of street-casting.  There are some casting directors and casting agencies that will occasionally do street casting.  My daughter once did a print ad for a major insurance company for which the adults in the ad campaign were street-cast in Central Park.  They wanted “real” people.  And the woman who posed with my daughter as her “grandmother” was a) like, my age and 2) paid five figures.  Seriously, a once-in-a-lifetime lucky break.  (And my daughter was paid about 10% of that amount, so…maybe I’m a little bitter.  But, whatever.  A story for a different day.)  There is a casting director who does street casting and puts casting notices up on social media for major, major, major brand campaigns…so you don’t even need to be an “official” model (but the kids who get booked usually are anyway).

Kids who are signed with the major agencies have been submitted to the agencies by their parents.  Submission is free, and I explained that process in an earlier post.  If you are invited to work with an agency, they may offer an actual written contract or a verbal “good faith” agreement.  The contract would basically spell out the responsibilities to each party to the contract – both the child and the agency.  The most important part of the contract is the agreement that the agency will receive payment from the client – when you deal with money, you do kind of need that stuff spelled out.  The contract also has some other expectations – you aren’t a party to another contract, each side can terminate the contract with notice, and a period of time for the contract to be in effect.

Listen up.  According to New York law, a minor can only be locked into a labor contract (and by labor, I mean entertainment, because there really aren't any other jobs in which young minors can work) if a contract has been reviewed by a judge familiar with such matters.  Worth knowing here, I’m not a licensed, practicing attorney – but I play one on TV.  (Kidding.  I do teach law, though…so hopefully I can at least be clear what I’m talking about.)  If you have real concerns about contracts, FIND and SPEAK TO a licensed, practicing attorney with knowledge of entertainment law.  The only circumstances I know of in which judges typically sign off on such contracts is when a minor is going to execute a HUGE $$$ contract – like a starring role in a movie, or something, in which both parties want to be sure everything is set in stone about payment.  This does NOT mean that any contract you sign is void by virtue of involving a minor.  What it means, for the most part, is that the minor and guardian can void the contract at any time.  If an agent tells you that you cannot terminate your contract, they are just plain using unfounded scare tactics…and your kid must be a good booker, because they don’t want to lose you.  That said, either my friends or I with have experience with every major legitimate agency in New York and NOT ONE of those agencies would hold you to a contract you wish to terminate.  NOT ONE.

The final thing I will address here in relation to the interFACE story on 20/20 is pictures.  None of the agencies will require you to purchase any pictures from them.  In fact, that arrangement is actually illegal in California for good reason.  It’s a huge conflict of interest.  Modeling agencies should only be making money from your bookings: 20% from you and 20% from the client.  (On-camera in New York is only 10%.)  There are a few things agencies may charge that they would deduct from your earnings.  These are website fees (usually $10-$15 a month; some are actually free); comp card printing fees (but I have never gotten any and they are probably totally unnecessary now; you can also make your own); and sometimes something like messenger fees (which are also out-dated and should be eliminated, in my opinion, because they date back to when submissions were made by agents piling up comp cards and sending them to clients – now it’s mostly all electronic).

If an agent expects you to shoot pictures with him/her and pay – even out of your earnings and not up-front – RUN.  It’s not standard practice and it’s taking advantage of you.  The only kids who probably need photos are kids who do on-camera as well as modeling and older kids (like 5 or 6 and up) who are just starting out and don’t have any good tear-sheets (the ads or catalogs in which your kid appeared) for submissions.  If and when you may need some pictures taken, get a list of recommended photographers, look at their work and prices, and choose your own.  When you choose your package, I really don’t recommend those packages with four looks of styled photographs, either.  You really only need one set of clear, natural shots with some headshots and some full body.  This is probably called something like a one-look mini-session.  Agents really can’t use the highly-styled looks for submissions and they will probably end up being more for you to put over your mantle.  Also: NO MAKEUP.  None.  Maybe a touch of concealer if necessary and a dab of lip gloss (and I mean dab).  Look online at the kids on the gap, Hanna Andersson, and Oshkosh websites.  You want your kids to look like that.

Brace yourselves, because here is where I’m going to get the hate mail and threats of being sued for defamation* (trying to keep myself from falling out of my chair laughing).  There is an agency in NYC that appears to be a legitimate agency.  They have kids that book great campaigns.  But the agency does really shady things on a regular basis.  Right away, they make you buy pictures, taken by the agent, and they deduct the money from future pay.  If you don’t make money, you owe them whatever the cost.  They make parents buy ridiculous amounts of overpriced comp cards – which I’ve said before I don’t use and have been asked for, now, exactly two times (and both times a regular 5x7 picture was sufficient).  They manipulate parents into promoting the agency via social media, including a new blog about one family’s story of their daughter’s success and fame – that actually inspired me to write my own “let’s get realistic” version of child modeling stories.  The agency has done photo shoots for kids claiming it was a “test shoot” (usually a free shoot) when it was an actual, paid shoot for which the client paid the model fee – but it was kept by the agency.  So, with all of those red flags, the agency preys on parents – many from out of the NYC area – and their dreams for their kids.  Sound familiar?  It’s a lot like interFACE.

Ok, long post today.  Hope it made sense – lots of distractions.  Want to respond?  Comment here, hit me up on my facebook page, The Bizzy Mama, or via email at

*Truth is an absolute defense to any claim of defamation.  BAM.

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