As some of you know, I moderate and lurk around some FB groups for aspiring model parents and I have some strong opinions that come off. If you’ve read this blog, you know that. But now I have a story for you and it’s the perfect example of one of my biggest rules of the road here in the biz:
So often I see parents saying they live somewhere quite far from a major market and they always seem to say, “We’re willing to travel!”
And I say, no way. As an agent, I’ve turned down kids for their distance. And in NYC, the general rule of thumb is you must live within a 2-hour radius for ground transportation. This is important! And the simple reason is: this business is fast-paced and maybe not as glamorous as it seems from afar.
So here’s my story!
My daughter took some time off from print (about two years) and we jumped back in this fall. She went to her first casting, got a hold, booked it, and was totally confirmed for the shoot the day before.
Here’s what’s kind of remarkable about the day of the shoot: my doctor scheduled surgery for me on the very same day and because somehow I am a moron with dates and times, I didn’t realize until about three days ahead of time that these things were both happening on the same day. (See also: book out! See also: keep commitments!)
My wife had taken a vacation day to take me to surgery. Makes sense, right? Spouse at the hospital with you? Wellllllll, once I realized both of these things were happening at the same time, I had to figure out a plan. What seemed to make the most sense to keep this commitment was to have my wife take our daughter to the shoot and have my parents take me to the hospital. Easy enough, right?
Er, imagine you are the spouse — and definitely not a model mom — and you’re given this news. And your she-shed has long since burned down and the playhouse in the backyard is filled with spiders. Kind of rough patch there.
Ok, so we have the booking, the surgery, the wife, the parents… everyone managed to get out of the house and where they needed to be.
But my wife got to the shoot with our daughter and the shoot was cancelled. Like, that morning. Like, at the start time. Like, no warning.
Travel? From NWCT to Union City, NJ, during rush hour traffic. Two hours is kind of cute at this point, but we’ve done it for six years and we know that burden is on us — just the actual, realized cost of a self-employed performing artist. It was more like 3/3.5 hrs. And then back home, also at the end of rush-hour traffic. It was a six hour total day for my wife and daughter. And after all that my wife could have been at the hospital with me. (My parents were great; don’t get me wrong; my wife just really wanted to be with me.)
Now imagine this scenario if you live in, say, Nebraska. I’m guessing you’ve already traveled here for the casting — round-trip plane and probably a night in a hotel, right? Then you book, YAY! So you probably come in a day early and stay overnight… then go to the shoot to find it cancelled.
I’m now going to add: no one but you pays for your transportation (unless you’ve booked a job that specifically says they will cast nationwide) and even then, that is the JOB and not the casting. And now I’ll add: this was a 4-hr gig that paid a usual NYC hourly. (I won’t get specific because usually agencies don’t want you sharing what that rate is, but it was “typical”.)
So not glamorous at all. You’ve done all this and while you can be pissed off at the situation, YOU had no control and you and your agent can certainly say that it really sucks after all that driving that this happened, but I’ll bet there was probably a kid who booked from fifteen minutes away and in reality, who won that competition? Seriously, not me.
While it is NOWHERE near common for a client to cancel, 2-3 trips from casting to working is not unusual. There can often be a fitting on a date in-between.
Now you want your BABY to book something like Gap, Children’s Place, Target, or Carter’s? Babies and toddlers get hired for a 2-hr window. That’s the amount of time dictated by law and what they can actually handle. And that’s $100-$150/hr. Let’s conservatively estimate you could go to a casting, a fitting, and work a gig for your child to earn $250 (minus 20% so, that will be down to $200. Fifteen percent to the trust account is another $37.50 and now a check comes for $162.50.) Four plus hour gigs are usually for school-age kids during a school day.
Still willing to travel? Planes get cancelled, busses break down, cars get stuck in miles of traffic at rush hour, during construction, or if there is an accident. I
Don’t care what WAZE tells me when I leave the house; it will always add time.
Traveling is just not realistic. I’m a firm two hours away in regular traffic but I have to add more for rush hour, UN traffic (last week… ugh), pit stops, and whatever else comes up. Sometimes kids barf.
No, you’re not really willing to travel. It sounds like fun — but even all that I described above is if your child BOOKS! Are you ready to just do casting for long stretches at a time? With no compensation?
Unless you are independently wealthy and paying for plane tickets today for a casting tomorrow OR you have a private plane, how could you possibly pull this off? There are so many other wonderful things your child can do if you don’t live close enough. Remember your child is talented, beautiful, and special. Being a child model does not need to be part of that. You cannot have a dream of working at Microsoft for Bill Gates if you have no intention of living near Seattle. And I hope I have convinced you that FINANCIALLY, child modeling is not a job anyone should re-locate for.
Hope everyone has been enjoying the last days of summer and a smooth transition back to school. What’s up? Tell me what you want to know. Follow my page on Facebook where I announce new blog posts (The Bizzy Mama) or my insta @thebizzymama or my daughter’s professional insta @bizzyholland email is firstname.lastname@example.org