Acting/Modeling…How to Begin.
The most nerve-wracking part of starting out in the talent industry… is “Am I doing this right?”
I wanted to be a model since I was very young and like most, I had no idea where to begin. There was no Google or emails back in the day. All I had was my mother to turn to, and well my mom proved to be a very resourceful partner. Thank goodness. Looking back there was plenty that I did not know about the industry when I began. I had no idea that modeling could lead to acting or that acting could possibly lead to Commercial Print opportunities. I didn’t even know the difference between commercial print and fashion. But over time my understanding of the industry grew, which in turn expanded my career. Whether I was lying on the beach for a United Airlines billboard or portraying a mom with a headache in an Excedrin commercial, what I learned is that we are acting all the time.
Today we live in a world of endless information. Yet it has been my experience that no matter how you Google it, most actors and models still struggle when it comes to knowing the right way to get started in the industry. The truth is, there is no known formula that guarantees success in this industry, but there are many ways you can guarantee failure and that’s why the most important part of building your career as an actor or model comes down to knowing what to do and when to do it. What is real, and what isn’t. “Should I get pictures first or do I need an agent? Who is the most important person to know? What acting class should I take? Am I tall enough for fashion? Should I invest in a reel? The questions go on, it’s knowing the right answers that make the difference.
I am lucky that my mom was as resourceful as she was. We both learned about the industry through trial and error. No matter how much the industry has changed, what I learned back then still applies today. Talent of course is a given, but marketing is everything.
When I was 21, my mom sent my first modeling shots to a beauty contest and I was invited to compete in the contest. I did not win, but my mother continued her public relations quest on my behalf. Next, she sent my competition photos to our local newspaper. To our surprise, they published my story. My mom was my first publicist. But she was also my first manager. A manager introduces clients to agents and helps their talent select the right photographers, acting classes and coaches to help further their careers. My mom encouraged me to get in front of the camera as much as I could and knock down as many doors as I could. I am forever grateful that she did. The tenacity she instilled in me then, is still a big part of who I am today.
Eventually because of my mother’s marketing skills, I had a handful of agencies invite me in for an interview, including Elite, which was my dream agency. When the smoke cleared, I was signed to Harisse Davidson for commercials and Playboy Models for Print. My dream came true because I was a model. I love reminiscing about those days, because it was a special time for me. The real reason why I’m sharing this story with you is to point out one important ingredient when it comes to making it in this industry and that is Marketing.
My mom packaged me in a way that the industry found interesting. They were intrigued by the newspaper article and the backstory of the beauty contest. When all is said and done, success comes to those who know how to market who they are to the right people.
Without realizing it, my mom and I developed my personal brand. You may ask what is a personal brand? Your brand is your look and type. Knowing how to apply your type to the industry is how you start the process of marketing yourself. When I was younger, my brand was being a swimsuit and commercial print model. When I was pregnant, I was marketed as a pregnant model and when I had kids, I marketed myself as plus size model. When I finally lost weight, I marketed myself as a Mom print model once again. I am now over 50 and my brand has expanded in many ways. I am a CEO, an agent and manager and when time allows and when the opportunity comes my way, I still enjoy the camera.
I have passed my love of the talent industry on to my kids who started out as baby models and now are both working actors. I manage their careers with tremendous pride and exuberance. You can find my son as a lead in movies such as Little Rascals Save The Day, Once Upon A Time in Staten Island and just finished filming as a main character in the new Sopranos prequel- The Many Saints of Newark.
I am writing this blog to encourage anyone that has a desire to be a model or actor to pursue your passion, develop your personal brand and market it. It is attainable even if you are not tall enough, thin enough, or young enough… We are all enough of something. Be firm in your belief in yourself, find your niche, and think about what it about you is that will get you noticed. There is so much opportunity for all of us out there if we have the talent and know how to market ourselves to the right decision makers.
It’s all about the journey and I hope what I learned along the way can help others who share my passion find success in the entertainment industry.