When models are first starting out in the industry, many of them make the mistake of thinking that they can just do it as a weekend or evening thing while they also attend school or work a regular job. What they often don’t realize is that the clients that they are hoping to book jobs for also typically work the hours of 8-5, Monday-Friday and will hold shoots, fittings, castings, etc. during those business hours. While most models are in school or working other jobs while modeling, finding the balance of managing your availability isn’t always easy.
If you are lucky enough to score a meeting with an agent (or if you are already signed to one), one of the first questions they will ask you about is what is your availability. What possible conflicts do you have? Are you able get to last-minute castings or bookings? The perfect answer would be “I have completely open availability!”, but agents know that isn’t usually the case. This is why it’s incredibly important to be completely open about what your availability is, and make sure you keep your agent updated about when it changes.
The reality is, if you have restricted availability and can only do things on weekends, the likelihood of an agent signing you or you getting many modeling bookings is very slim. As I said above, most of the clients you would be booked for also work regular business hours during the week, so even if you get lucky and a show or shoot is happening on a weekend or in the evening, the fittings will most likely be happening during the weekly business hours. Are you able to skip class or miss work to attend castings, bookings, and/or fittings during the week? Even if it may be last minute? If the answer is no, you will have to miss out on many opportunities.
Most models in markets that don’t have a really big fashion industry have jobs outside of modeling, which sometimes makes it difficult to get time off work to make it to your modeling obligations. There have been many times where I had to turn requests from my agent down due to meetings I couldn’t miss, and there have also been many times where I would call in sick to work so that I could do a modeling booking. The same happened when I was in college and attending class during the day. If I was able to skip class without missing much, I would, but there were also many moments where I couldn’t miss class and instead had to pass up the modeling gig.
In these situations, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of taking that booking. Does it pay enough to warrant taking off work? Is it beneficial to your modeling career? Will you be missing anything important at work or school that day? Will there be consequences for taking off or skipping class? Because modeling jobs aren’t as consistent in smaller markets, it’s important not to risk losing your regular job or hurting your grades to take modeling opportunities.
Often, casting or booking requests can come in very last0minute, so it’s important to have the flexibility in your availability to accommodate the fast-moving modeling industry. It’s also very important to be completely open and honest with your agent/potential agent. If you give them the impression that you have an open availability but then start turning down casting or booking requests for work or school related reasons, you’re going to cause more issues than you would’ve if you would have just been up front about your schedule. Especially in the smaller markets, they understand that modeling often isn’t the only thing you have going on.
If you’re in high school or a younger child, agents and clients will understand that your schedule will be more restricted, and often accommodations are made when it comes to teen and child castings and bookings. As a parent of a teen or child model, your availability is also incredibly important, as well as your willingness to be somewhat flexible with schooling. Jobs are not scheduled around school, so if your child finds some success, some missed days of school are inevitable. Due to their young ages, you will also be expected to stay on set to chaperone (not just drop them off and go about your business), which means you’ll also be potentially missing work or any other commitments you may have.
Bottom line is that before you jump into the modeling world, think carefully about whether you can make a modeling and/or acting career work with your current commitments. Don’t expect it to be just a weekend thing, as that is rarely the case. See what you can adjust and what you can’t, and then see if a modeling career can fit in the time you have available. If it can’t, that’s ok! Do what you can on the side for fun, and reevaluate as life changes.