By Natalia Zurowski
Aspiring models everywhere dream of getting signed by an agency and already working models dream of moving up the ranks and getting signed by a powerhouse - think the likes of IMG, The Lions, Women, etc. In order to get signed, a model has to meet with an agency's entire team of bookers, all of whom have to agree unanimously that the model has the right look for the agency.
In "Bookers - Gatekeepers to the Gods," photographer Dallas J Logan talks in-depth about his own experiences working with bookers over the years:
The entry into this arena [the modelling industry] are held by a very small, chosen and powerful group of men and women known as the Bookers. They decide who the client will and will not see. They decide who gets picked up and signed to an agency. They decide who they wish to invest their time, energy and resources in. It is a demanding job . . . When it comes to selecting a model, each Booker has in mind what they think should be the 'it' face at the time. While Booker A may choose a model that is a little more buff, Booker B will turn that model away for the same exact reason. I’ve seen this happened even within the same agency. It all boils down to the matter of taste.
If there's anything key to take away from Logan's article, it's how being a model and succeeding in this industry goes far past simply genetics, but rather luck and, as model Richard Bell described, the "whim of an individual in a position of influence."
Let's say you went in to meet with an agency. The meeting went well and you felt the agent or couple agents you met with liked your look. You wait for their decision and you find out you don't get signed. You may ask yourself,"Why didn't I get signed? The meeting had gone so well. I thought they really liked me? What went wrong?"
Before your start blaming yourself and feeling down (which you shouldn't), it could have very well been that the agents you met with felt you had the "look" for their agency while the other bookers on the team may have felt otherwise. This happens far more often than models realize. Even if just one booker disagrees, a model will not get signed.
Does it sound unfair? Yes. However, this industry is a business and competition is higher than ever before. You aren't owed an agency because you've decided that's what you want. If a model really wants to make it in the industry and be successful, they need to be able to persevere through every bit of criticism and rejection that may come their way. And for most models, aspiring and the already working, it's going to be a lot.
When looking for representation, always ask:
- Will clients in this market respond well to my look?
- Does my look align with the direction of this agency?
If you're a lady pushing 30 and still trying to break into Tokyo as a new face, you're probably wasting your time. If you're a lad with no interest in working out, Miami and Germany aren't your best bets. If you're strictly a catalogue commercial model, you probably shouldn't be banging on high-fashion-only agency doors.
Even if you're in the right city at the right time, one booker may not see your potential. But, just because one booker at one agency doesn't think you have the right look doesn't determine your success in this industry. You just have to keep trying. The bookers at the next agency may all think you're amazing. Just ask Tyra.