We took ten minutes this week to chat with Distinct Model Management director and founder Anne Morgan, who with over 10 years experience in the modelling industry as both a model and an agent, knows just what it takes to become a hugely successful international model. Mother agent to some of the most successful models to ever come out of Ireland, Anne has discovered models who have went on to work with huge international clients such as Burberry, DSquared, Hugo Boss, Vogue, and Elle Magazine to name but a few. But what does it take to become so successful? We got down to the nitty gritty and had a real, frank discussion about where to start if you want to become a model, how to get scouted, the traps you need to look out for and what it takes to become a huge, international star.
In Part 1 we looks at what you need to know before you join an agency
What do agencies look for in a model?
A: This is a question I understandably get asked quite a lot, and one which I am always happy to answer as the answer itself might actually surprise some people! Every agency or model scout has their own preference when it comes to an ideal ‘look’ – some prefer classic looking beauty while some (like Distinct) are more drawn to more unique, unconventional beauty which means that modelling is certainly not a one size fits all industry. But, the one consistent thing that can often be the ultimate deciding factor for bookers? Personality. Period. How many incredible looking girls or guys have I let go to another agency because I didn’t feel they had a good attitude? Dozens. Do I regret letting them go? Not for a minute. The reason being, when you have a small, selective agency like Distinct, it often feels like a family unit. And to me, part of what I love most about that family is how supportive we all are of one another. I am blessed to represent positive, hard working and genuinely lovely guys and girls and when you have that at the core of your business it makes everyones job easier – the bookers, the models and of course, the clients. If you have a bad attitude make no mistake about it, in a market as small as Ireland clients will talk. Your success as a model depends on your reputation and that reputation determines whether or not a client chooses to work with you again.
Just like any business, being a successful model relies to a great extent on loyal, returning customers who are also telling others about you so you need to make sure that message is positive! A good work ethic is imperative so its important to acknowledge modelling for what it is - is a career, and it has all the demands and requirements of one.
Do I have to be tall to be a model?
A: Different agencies will have different requirements but as a whole, the fashion industry does show preference towards girls over 5’8 and boys over 6ft tall especially if you want to work abroad. In local markets height will not always be an issue and plenty of people under the required height for fashion modelling can flourish in areas such as TV commercials and general advertisements, but to work abroad very few will become hugely successful being anything less that than minimum height (yes I know Kate Moss was the exception….which is why we only have one Kate Moss). Height of course will also will depend on your age – if you are under 18 you may still be growing in which case a good agency will keep an eye on you if they think you have the potential.
Lets talk about measurements………
A: Do we like measuring girls? No. Well most of us don’t. Why? Because we know those girls are human, just like us. We like our food and sometimes we are just WAY too tired to even think of working out, let alone actually doing it. But we also know that the criteria models need to meet are part of the wider industry which we are at the mercy of and as a booker its something I battle with on a humanistic level. As long as international designers continue to create ridiculously small sample sizes it is going to be hard to envision a change in the pressures put upon models, especially when the industry abroad is so competitive. That is why it is so important to have a good mother agency that you can go to and talk to on a real level when the pressures get too much. Mother agencies are there to help you, to encourage you and to ensure that you remain both physically and psychologically well throughout your career. Signing with a reputable mother agency is one of the most important things you can do for your career and for yourself as a person because make no mistake about it, you will always need support.
What is a mother agency?
A: Some agencies are well known for being exceptional agencies in their market (the city or country they are based in), and some are also focused slightly further afield. For example, Distinct is first and foremost a mother agency, meaning our job is to develop a models career both in Ireland and throughout the world in order to provide our models with the best possible opportunities for the best possible career that is lucrative, long lasting and far reaching. A mother agency is essentially your manager and their job is to provide you work in your local market and place you with the best agencies in other markets thoughout the world.
A mother agency is often the agency who discovered you and the word ‘mother’ is definitely the best way of describing our role! We are the main point of contact for all of your international agencies – the one main agency that oversees everything. We organise your international schedules ensuring there are no conflicts, we plan your career and offer guidance and support continuously (which means we are usually on call 24/7!), we have expert knowledge of the most reputable agencies in the most lucrative markets, we ensure you get paid, we help with visa applications, contracts…..in short, its our job to organise and manage your career so you can focus on the work itself knowing that you always have that support for any issues that arise so that you don’t have to deal with them on your own. Are mother agencies essential? No. But if you find a good one who knows the international market and has a proven track record then it’s a good idea to have one.
Where do you find your models?
A: I don't hold open days, which to many may seem strange. But the priority is to keep the agency small so we generally see people by appointment only. Usually we find interesting faces who have applied through our website, but many have been found on social media through our #IAmDistinct model search or have been randomly scouted on the street. For example, the last model I scouted was serving my table in a restaraunt when I was out for my dads birthday! Scouting is my favourite part of the job so I don't switch off - I am ALWAYS looking for my next top model, which I am sure can confuse people when they have no idea what I do and assume I am just casually staring at them! Social media has certainly made my job a lot easier, the only problem is, as scouts we also make a lot of assumptions based on social media so my top tip is be really careful what you are posting!! We can't help it, its our job!
Do I have to pay a sign up fee to join an agency?
A: This one in particular, I feel VERY strongly about. The answer is NO, never….ever…ever! And that also goes for the photos that you submit to an agency. Personally, I do not make any decisions based on professional images – they are completely unnecessary and the first thing I will ask you for is a head shot and full length shot with no makeup whatsoever so don’t waste your money on a professional photoshoot before signing with an agency. As agents, it is our job to organise photoshoots for you, free of charge so that you are not out of pocket. Charging someone to be on the books of an agency is ludacris, unethical and would make me question the legitimacy of that agency. We make our money from any job a model books (20% of the models fee) but until you start working we have to have enough faith in you to know that we need to invest in your career. And no, you do not need to attend a workshop or bootcamp to become a model – your agency will do that for you. FREE OF CHARGE.
Keep an eye out on Part 2 of our interview coming soon! If you have a question you would like answered by our Managing Director, bookers or our models get in touch! Contact Kelly on firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply to Distinct Model Management, click here!