Myths, Mayhem and Money: The Truth About the Child Talent Industry – Part 2

Part 2: Briefs, Clients & No Guarantees 

Maya - on set of the Barbie shoot

The opportunity to be a part of the entertainment industry can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. However, as any good and reputable child talent agency will tell you, we cannot guarantee work.

Yes, you read that correctly, we cannot promise anything. We will never know whether a child will get dozens of opportunities, or just one. In some cases, unfortunately we will have talent that will not come across any work during their representation.

This is because the role of a talent agency is to act as the middle man between the brand/client and the talent. We do not create the ‘work’, nor do we know which talent the client will prefer or select for their campaigns.

 

“We do not guarantee work simply because we are not the decision makers in this process.”

 

So here is how it works from our side. The client will let us know, through a brief, what kind of child they specifically need or want for their shoot. Which is why we can never predict when your child’s age, gender or ethnicity will come through in a brief from a client. Each brief will have a different requirement for the agency to meet, for example; ‘We are looking for a Size 2 girl with Brown Hair’ or ’10-12-year-old boys, who are strong swimmers’. Once we have these details, we scour through our talent and ensure we submit all children who are suitable. So if your child doesn’t meet the brief requirements, we cannot submit them for that particular role or campaign.

The client will make the final decision and we cannot predict nor change this eventual outcome, so remember to keep this in mind if your child is a part of the industry or you are considering entering the industry.

Our dedicated casting department undertake many tasks as the ‘middle man’ in this process. They build and maintain our impressive client base, established over the years to also include a regular client base; who consistently use our agency to search for talent for their upcoming projects. They also submit all of our wonderful talent to all briefs that come thorough.

Zaid World Vision

Suitable briefs are always subject to the client’s needs and once again we aren’t able to foresee what work will come in over the 12 months of your child’s representation. The one thing we do guarantee is that your child will be submitted for all briefs the are suitable for throughout their time with us.

We are lastly the communication between yourself and the client to ensure everything runs smoothly and all legal guidelines are followed (Check out look at Part 1 of The Truth about the Child Talent Industry series to find out about the legal side of the Industry)

It is also important to remember that we will always provide you with as much information as possible, so if you are joining our agency, or any talent agency, be sure to thoroughly read all information provided to you. This can be an easy way to ensure that you understand everything and are prepared for anything the industry throws your way! Remember we are just as excited as you to watch your little star shine!

Myths, Mayhem and Money: The Truth About the Child Talent Industry – Part 1

Many myths surround the child talent industry and child talent/modelling agencies alike.

As the leading agency in the Australian child talent space, we are here to let you know what it’s really like.

The industry in itself can be very fast-paced, with clients organising shoots and castings with only a day’s notice, so expecting these kinds of situations is crucial. We understand that you won’t always be available on short notice but it’s a situation you may come across and it is important to align your expectations to the industry. While fast – paced, the child employment space is also extremely regulated, as any area involving children should be.

And ultimately this is why having an agent is so important, to ensure that everything is done right.

Part 1: What Is Legal?

IMG_2807

Recently SBS program ‘The Feed’ aired the documentary, ‘Breaking the Model’ on the experiences of some young people working for well-known adult modelling agencies in Australia.

While there are issues in every industry, the adult modelling world is extremely different to, and not a reflection of the child talent agencies and the child modelling world.

During the program and in countless media articles following, some of the reported information was incorrect regarding the necessary legal requirements that talent and modelling agencies must follow when sourcing work for children, specifically in NSW.

Contrary to comments made in the program; performer representatives (also known as Talent Agencies) do not need to register themselves as an employer of children with the Office of the Children’s Guardian (NSW), or similar organisations in other states. While that may seem strange, the agencies are not the employers of any children; we as the agent are only – the “middle-man” between the child and the employer. The ‘Employer’ is defined as “the brand or company that has booked the child for a shoot, will be instructing them to perform tasks on set and will ultimately be paying them for work, via the agency”

This means that there is no legal obligation for any agency to register, as they are just the representatives of the talent.

Regardless of this, representatives of child performers do have other legal obligations they must meet. Agencies must ensure that anyone who wishes to employs their talent, is registered with the relevant organisation and can provide the required documentation to prove they have meet the correct legal restrictions.

For example, if your child does a catalogue shoot or a TV Commercial for Target, we will ensure that Target are following all the proper guidelines to be employing children, such as being registered with the correct organisations, no matter the state.

It is also mandatory that your child is supervised on set at all times by a parent or chaperone nominated by the parent. If they are of school age, you also must have the permission of your child’s school and principal in order for them to leave school and work during school hours.

Every legal guideline must be followed meticulously because not only could it lead to large fines and penalties for the agency involved, but could also risk putting a child in an unsafe environment.

The occurrence of situations like this are almost non-existent, as child employment is a heavily regulated sector. Most brands these days will always go through a reputable agency to find talent and any reputable agency will not work with a non- reputable and law abiding client, so the risk of this is extremely minimal. As an agency we pride ourselves in ensuring we are doing everything we can in order to guarantee our kids are safe, wherever they are working.

While this may seem like a lot, it is essential as a parent whose child has an agent or as someone looking for talent management, that you are aware of what goes on. There is absolutely no need to worry as your agent has it covered, and they will send you all the necessary information you are legally required to have. However, if you do want to find out more, reach out to your agent so they can point you in the right direction.

At the end of the day being informed is necessary but you really have no need to stress. If your child is represented by a reputable agency they will be aware of all legal obligations and follow them methodically.

Is Boutique really Better?

When looking for an agent for your child, you will probably come across a lot of contradicting information about what is and isn’t better for your child. One of the most common phrases you will come across, used to promote smaller agencies, is that they are ‘boutique’ and therefore able to offer a more personalised service because they only represent a small group of talent.

 

As one of the largest agencies in Australia, it would be remiss of us to gloss over the fact that this might sound as though we are trying to promote why we would be a better choice over a smaller agent. But bear with us, as there are some solid facts that you should consider when deciding what type of agent you go with.

 

First off, there is no real definition of a ‘boutique’ agency, so an agent could still have millions of children on their books a promote that they are ‘boutique’. There is no regulation on this and as such it is not a really a factor you can rely upon when making your decision.

 

When sourcing talent, clients like plenty of options to choose from. This gives them greater chance of finding the right talent they are looking for rather than trying to cast from limited options. They also prefer to source talent for multiple roles from one agent, as obviously this significantly cuts down on the administration time. If boutique agents really are boutique, then they would likely not have a healthy enough talent pool to provide clients with options and a range of choice like a larger talent agent can. This is why clients tend to go directly to larger agents for their campaigns, and as such larger agents end up with the most work for their talent because they are able to best service the industries clients.

 

But what about recruiting talent? Isn’t there a set criteria for what type of children will gain work in the industry, and as such only those that fit should be offered placement? Well, as agents, we know that sometimes the shiniest gems are hidden in the most unlikely places! So whilst we can be extremely picky and stick to a certain criteria when recruiting new talent, and as such limit our talent pool, we are aware that there is a plethora of work available to talent of all shapes, styles, looks and skills. We also know that sometimes children just need to be given a chance to develop and shine, and we love seeing new talent blossom from one opportunity to the next. The only criteria required to succeed in the industry is passion and patience!

 

One of the main fears among new talent and their parents is that they do not want to ‘compete’ with lots of other children for each job. This is typically what steers them towards smaller, boutique agencies. But the reality of the industry is that if you are right for the job, you will get it. It doesn’t matter if there are 5 or 500 other talent going for the same role, if you’re it, you’re it! What you really need is an agent that will expose you to the most opportunities possible, and that is what you will get at a larger agent. As explained before, because of their healthy and varied talent pool they are a one stop shop for clients and typically attract the most work. You will always be submitted for roles with other talent, whether they are from your agent or with other agencies. But with maximum exposure you will (hopefully) find the role that is perfect for you, irrelevant of how many other talent they had to choose from!

 

At the end of the day you need to find an agent that you feel comfortable with, but don’t be scared away from approaching larger agents and don’t be sucked in by common buzzwords. Only you can decide what is right for your child but if you are armed with the right knowledge and expectations you can rest assured that you will make the right decision.

Tell Me I’m Pretty

The beauty industry is thriving at the moment with perfectly painted faces becoming an increasingly popular trend. Cosmetic stores such as Mecca and Sephora are expanding on Australian shores, with the cosmetic industry expected to bring in $4 billion this financial year, and the beauty industry $4.9 billion.

Statistics time! In the US, studies indicate that 54% of girls aged 12 – 14 wear eye makeup and 45% wear foundation.  The studies also show that 80% of kids at the young ages of 9-11 use beauty and personal care products, with 42% using them because it provides a sense of confidence. While these stats can come as quite a shock, other research indicates that students who wear makeup achieve better grades in school, and it is all to do with the confidence that the makeup brings. The beauty products make the individual feel a sense of overall enhancement in their self-esteem, attitude and personality.

Social media beauty guru, Reuben De Maid (12 years old)

From an agency perspective, we believe in encouraging body confidence in a completely different way! We believe that kids should be kids, and our clients emulate that in their advertising. They are not looking for mini-adults, they want real kids. When children are called in for castings the rule of thumb is minimal to no make up with natural but neat hair.  So when a child books a job for the first time, it evokes a sense of joy and pride, knowing that they were chosen purely for just being them, rather than masking themselves behind a face of product. When the child is on set a makeup artist may do some touch ups using a small amount of makeup, but this should only enhance their natural features more. Here at Bettina Management we are firm on the idea that kids should act their age, as they have plenty of time to look like an adult later.

Anastasia Kingsworth

We can understand where the influencing is coming from, with young beauty bloggers popping up left right and center. Popular makeup artists such as Lauren Curtis, Shannon Harris (Shaaanxo), and Chloe Morello can sit pretty with a full-time career as a YouTube star with a combined following of over 10 million subscribers. Popular Youtube beauty guru, Reuben De Maid, has amassed a following of over 95,000 Youtube subscribers and 180,000 Instagram followers at just 12 years old. We also have Anastasia Kingsworth, 17 years old and 458,000 YouTube subscribers, and 10 year old Jack (makeupbyjack) with 467,000 followers on Instagram.

When it comes to letting your children wear makeup on a day to day basis it really does come down to personal preference. There are no studies to show that wearing makeup at a younger age affects your skin anymore than as an adult. So do we look at it as a confidence builder or a youth killer? Do we let our children wear makeup just because they want to or is that encouraging them to hide their insecurities rather than embrace their natural beauty? Regardless of your choice, at one stage or another you will have to accept that the use of beauty products is a sign that your child is growing up, and to not shame other parents for their choices in the process. From an agency point of view, despite the many misconceptions about children in the modeling industry, we do not encourage makeup, but what children do outside of this is not our place to say. It really does not and should not matter, in the wise words of Hollywood actress Tina Fey: “If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?”

Instagram #Werk

As agents, we LOVE IT when kids get work, no doubt about it. But we’re also passionate about kids being treated fairly and professionally in the industry. Children earn the right to be paid for their time and use of their likeness in campaigns. Increasingly, we are seeing the rise of small brands and boutique labels scouting for models via Instagram call outs and open casting calls. Again, we love it when kids get work, through whatever avenue it comes from. But as agents and experts in the industry we’re here to inform you as parents on what you need to look out for when applying for these open call outs.

 

Payment

Kids should be paid to work on set. Brands will often try to get around paying talent by offering product or vouchers in lieu. This is fine and perfectly legal, but the truth is, your child is a talent in the industry and is entitled to be paid for their time. We understand that a lot of boutique brands may not have the budget to pay for talent, and we always encourage children to take advantage of all opportunities that come by when they are starting up in the industry, but it’s important to be thoughtful about always agreeing to work for free. Negotiation is key and this is where your agent can help you (if you have one). If you are doing this on your own, setting boundaries about what type of work you will accept and what budget you are willing to work with can give you a framework to work from when liaising with potential clients. For example, you might be totally happy to have your child shoot for a boutique brand for 1-2 hours on an online campaign, but anything beyond that you would need to charge for time on set and usage of your child’s image.

 

Image Usage

Your child should not only be paid for their time on set but also compensated for the usage of their likeness in the images used for advertising. This always depends on the length of time the image is going to be used for, and what medium it is being reproduced in. Often usage for up to 12 months in standard catalogue/online advertising is included in the shoot fee, but anything beyond that should attract an extra fee. The reason talent are paid for usage of their image is to compensate for the possibility that they will not be able to work for a competitive brand for a certain period of time. Agreements on usage terms and fees should always be made in a written agreement signed by both the client and the talent (or the parent/agent of talent), even if there is no fee involved. This is important to protect both parties down the line and ensure that all involved are clear about what they are agreeing to. Usage agreements should be signed by both parties BEFORE any shoot takes place.

 

Child Employment Permits

All shoots involving children must comply with relevant child employment legislation in its respective state. Depending on the state, the client/employer must apply to the relevant organisation for a child employment permit. This must be approved prior to the shoot and relevant information provided to parents. In many cases, there will be forms to sign by the parent prior to employment taking place. It is very important to check what the employers obligations are in your state and ensure that your child only participates in shoots that comply with the regulations. To check up on what is required in your state you can visit the following websites:

VIC – Business Victoria

NSW – Office of the Children’s Guardian

QLD – Business Queensland

 

Other Top Tips

  • Always check that the person contacting you is working for a legitimate company. If they claim to be from a particular company, and you are unsure of their legitimacy it is a good idea to contact the company to verify. Never send photos or videos of your child until you have done a thorough investigation.

 

  • Talk to your agent! If you have one, your agent can assist you with all of the above negotiations, that is what they are there for.

 

  • If the person contacting you asks for payment for anything – RUN! There is absolutely no reason for you to pay someone to give your child work.

 

These opportunities can be a wonderful experience, but being wise and savvy about how you handle them is important to protect your child’s career and wellbeing. Teaming up with an agent that has your child’s best interest at heart will make this process much smoother and provide you with expert support as well.

Families who work together, stay together!

What you may not have noticed in more recent times is that a lot of the TVC’s, advertisements and even TV series you see around are made up of real, genuine families. The request for REAL families or REAL siblings or even the odd cousin or grandparent is rapidly increasing in the entertainment industry. Previously it was much more common to manufacture a family during the casting process, by mix and matching talent to look like a real family. But the problem was, you can’t manufacture a genuine family connection. A real mother and son will always be more believable on camera than two relative strangers, and with acting skills or experience not always necessary for some campaigns, we have seen this trend grow at a rapid pace.

Vivienne & her mum for Hippy Australia

The idea of family advertising has become a prominent symbol in advertising and is used by marketers to increase profits. According to sociology, it is argued that these families influence the way that behaviour and attitude towards society are portrayed. Nonetheless, families are used as a functional advertising tool – increasing profit as well as building a strong reputation with their consumers. Who would have thought your little family would be the reason a business makes a turnover.

Using real families in their campaigns also allows a brand to become more relatable because when you look at these advertisements, your subconscious tells you “hey, these people are just like me!”.

The De Paula siblings for Britax

So with all these benefits to brands, what are the benefits for your family to venture into this world of modelling and advertising? Well, not only do you get to feature in a national campaign (and be paid for it), but you get to spend quality time with your family and have a unique experience that you will all remember for a long time. You also get some gorgeous professional photos to help you remember it all!

In just the past few months, we have been asked by several different types of companies for real siblings to cast in their latest TVC or shoot. Some examples are Arnotts, Myer and Riviera Australia. Families have been requested by realestate.com, P&O Cruises, Allianz, NSW transport, Guardian Funerals and even Tourism of Fiji. Some families have scored all expenses paid for holidays by clients for their work, and on top of it, they get paid for their time as well!

Bettina Management has recently launched their Bettina Families division, available to Bettina talent. If your child is currently represented by Bettina Management and you are interested in joining Bettina Families at no extra cost, please contact families@bettina.com.au

 

 

2017 – The Year That Was

We are so proud of all of our talent for all of the hard work and efforts they have gone to this year! Here are some of our favourite achievements of 2017 and a recap on the crazy year that was. 

Telstra Perth Fashion Fesitval 2017

Runway Ready

In September Bettina Management had the honour of attending the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, one of Australia’s premier fashion events. Bettina Management hosted a model search competition and in just 2 days received almost 500 entries. From that we narrowed it down to 20 kids for the runway finale and from that we crowned our 2 winners – Josh, 13, and Jamilla, 7.

 

 

The boy who did it all

Mack, at only 1 year old is taking the child modelling industry by storm!  Just this year Mack has booked shoots and TVC’s for Pumpkin Patch, Seed, Bonds, Mitsubishi and Myer.

 

 

 

International Jetsetters

Some of our Talent has been lucky enough to shoot overseas this year. Phoebe was flown to Bali for a Fila Kids shoot, and Brodie went to Malaysia for a Vicks shoot. These kids along with a parent had all flights and accommodation paid for, spending money for food while they were there and they were paid for the work they did whilst they were there too!

 

Lead Role Scorer

One of Bettina Management’s very own, Celine, landed a lead role on a new TV Series on ABC Me, Mustangs. Mustangs was a comedy-drama about girls abandoning the sidelines and starting their very own all female team, their local club’s first. The girls juggle their new soccer commitments with the rollercoaster that is teenage life. The whole series is now available online to watch on ABC’s iview.

 

 

 

Bettina Families Division

This year there has been a serious increase in demand for families, siblings, cousins and even grandparents. So we have decided to open up a whole new families division, currently complimentary to all families who already have a child on books. Recently we have had real families booked for several of our clients including Cengage Learning, Hippy Australia, Britax, Elevit, Bank of Melbourne, Johnson & Johnson, Target Australia and more.

 

Global News Sensation 

Shilah is one of only about a hundred people in the world known to have Uncombable Hair Syndrome (UHS). This is an extremely rare genetic disease, characterised by straw, white or silver blonde frizzy hair that cannot be combed flat. Over the past few months Shilah has become the latest global news sensation, with articles in the Daily Mail, Mirror, Pop Sugar, Global News and made one of the cover stories for That’s Life Magazine. To top it off Shilah and her Mum were on Plus 7’s The Morning Show! Shilah has completely embraced her unique look and enjoys being an inspiration to others to be proud of who they are.

25 years of Bettina Management

Bettina Management celebrated their 25th birthday this year! To celebrate being a quarter of a century old, we visited our clients in all states and brought along cupcakes and goodies with us. We received lots of thank you notes from our clients who thought it was a lovely gesture. We also held a competition for all new applicants of our birth month that gave them the chance to win a $250 Target Voucher. A little celebration at the Bettina Management HQ was held as well, with some cupcakes of our own and party poppers!

This year has been one full of excitement and chaos! We can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Working Holidays – Kid Models go International

It is no secret that there are some pretty serious perks of working in the entertainment industry. One of the biggest perks of this industry being able to work internationally. This may be all flowers and rainbows for an adult; to be classed as a jet setter, bragging on Snapchat and Instagram about the cool place you get to go next or what you’re up to today. For a kid model, however, there are other factors to consider. There is the obvious, will the parents be available to take them, if they work can they get the time off, etc. However, there are several factors that need also to be considered.

You’re going on a holiday!

There are some major benefits of working overseas. The most obvious reason being that your child, will get to experience what can feel like a whole new world. Soak up the culture, try new foods, buy eccentric things, and experience a completely different climate. Generally speaking, the client will pay for the child plus one parent’s flights and accommodation. They usually also receive a daily amount of money each day to spend on food and other incidentals, or food will be provided for them. Keeping in mind each client is different!

Maya working in Thailand for Mattel

You’re gaining even more experience!

  • Getting cast for something is great for so many reasons:
  • Your child gets to make some pocket money or start an early savings account
  • They are doing what they love
  • They get to meet new kids in the industry who could potentially end up being life-long friends
  • They have an opportunity to get some insight into the industry and gain real-life experience on set.
  • Most importantly, they get to have fun!

All these things all still happen when you work overseas, but it adds some even cooler perks:

  • Pen pals! If there are other kids on set, they may not have come from the same place you did. With the way social media and the internet has taken over, there are ample ways for the kids to keep in touch and stay updated on each other’s lives.
  • Even more experience, not many kids can say that they were flown to another country for a photo shoot. This not only builds their professionalism on set, but it also allows them to understand diversity and learn how to adapt to different situations.
  • Exposure is a massive perk of international work. If your image or TVC is going to be aired overseas, it widens your child’s demographic in the industry, while also increasing their reach in future potential work.

It’s not all shopping and sunshine.

At the end of the day, you are not in a different country purely for a holiday. Whilst you may have scored some time off work to get there, you are still required to be present the whole time your child is on set. Technically, you could almost think of it as a business trip for you and your child. Depending on what the job is will depict the length of stay at the chosen location. For example, one of our talent, Brodie, filmed a TVC in Malaysia, where he stayed for 5 days. On the contrary, another child of Bettina Management, Phoebe, went to Bali and only stayed 2 days for her shoot.

But what an experience!

While you should treat these opportunities as a working holiday, they will provide amazing memories for your family and is an incredible experience for your child. We have had lots of children travel overseas to work for amazing brands and the feedback is always glowing! So make sure you are prepared but most of all, enjoy the experience.

“We received a text message to alert us that an urgent email was sent on the 28th april. Not thinking anything of it I checked and found out that Phoebe was shortlisted for an international photo shoot in Bali for FILA Kids Korea. The smile on her little face was priceless and she was super excited. She loved the experience and is now in love with Bali” – Phoebe’s mum (Bettina Mgmt)

 

 

The Safety of Social Media Stars

It’s no secret that social media has taken over the world, and has increasingly become involved in the lives of our children. At Bettina Management, we provide full support and representation to our talent to increase their exposure. Although, there is nothing stopping you, as their parent, from taking control of a part of that exposure by running a social media page for them.

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube can help young talent connect and engage with the industry. These spaces allow you to share extra content for peers and clients to view and possibly consider your child for potential jobs. We encourage parents to take a step into the digital world as it is a brand new way of ‘mingling’, in a way you might at an industry function or event.

Managing your child’s exposure is a great way to get started in the industry. But how do we manage this exposure and monitor what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to our children’s interactions on social media?

Jayla & Levi Li On Wing

Keep it age appropriate

Let kids be kids! Overly styled images with a lot of make-up and mature posing are not what clients want to see. Clients are looking for kids who look like kids, so images of children playing, creating and having fun are what you want to showcase.

Heather Li On Wing is the mum of two beautiful young stars, Jayla and Levi, who have worked for on numerous commercial campaigns for big brands. She runs and manages an Instagram page for the siblings and says “ I cannot stress enough to treat their page as a business page, do not let the children run their own page.”

It is important to remember that while you as an adult understand what is appropriate and the potential repercussions of what you post online, children may not have an understanding of this yet. So it is important to take control of the content posted.

 

Managing a Crisis

As with any public online profile, things can wrong. If you find your child’s page the subject of inappropriate comments, it is important to remove the person and the comments from your child’s page, delete, block, ban and make sure they never return! You do have the luxury to control your audience, so make sure you exercise that block button.

“These pages are public and there are occasionally some indecent comments. Immediately delete any inappropriate comment and block and report the user right away. My daughter has her own private Instagram account which I check every day. She uses it to send messages to her school friends and only has family and actual friends, either way, you MUST still check their posts, comments and private messages to ensure they are using social media safely. Everyone has heard the horror stories of things that can go wrong. You HAVE to teach them and watch them at all times.” Heather tells us.

 

Educate your kids

IG @jayla_and_levi

As much as taking control and constant monitoring will keep your children safe online, it is also important to teach them about online safety and appropriate behaviour. So when an issue comes up, talk them through what the best response will be and demonstrate to them how you, as an adult, will deal with the situation. This way they will have all the tools they need for when they are a bit older and can manage their own accounts.

Ultimately, social media can be a great tool to use if your child is keen to be successful in the industry. Heather has used social media throughout her children’s careers and found it to be a great way to boost their profiles.

“We use social media to try to enhance Jayla and Levi’s profile by promoting their castings, jobs and various looks on Instagram, in hopes that this will encourage big and small brands, magazines, photographers and clothing lines to work with our children. We have been given good advice in terms of exposure; basically if there is a child that goes to a casting that does not have social media versus a child that has 1000’s of followers, chances are that the child with a large following has a better chance of securing that job because that child can promote that product, photographer, clothing line or magazine to their fan base.”

As much as it’s important to be safe, make sure you have fun with your content to get the most out of your experience! Social media is an ingrained part of the entertainment industry and beyond, so it is something that ultimately can’t be avoided.

Let kids be kids… Even if they are #kidmodels

After 25 years in the industry, we have truly seen it all and more. We have seen trends come and go and have seen the dynamics of industry evolve and change over time. With the rising role of social media combined with the changing attitudes of society, we are now seeing a worrying trend in the world of child modelling.  

Child Model Kristina Pimenova (10yrs)

We are seeing more and more kids being subject to stylised, highly edited photographs, emulating images you might see on a comp card for an adult model or in a high-fashion editorial magazine. These portfolio images are perhaps taken with the best intention, but it is concerning to see these types of images are becoming more popular, and there seems to be no consideration for age-appropriation. It is also becoming clear that this trend has come about under the proviso that this is what the industry is after. As agents who solely represent children and families, we feel an obligation to speak out against this trend, if only to encourage parents to think twice about the types photographs they want representing their children.

Child Model Thylane Blondeau (12yrs)

At our agency, we meet with each potential talent personally prior to offering a position on our books. We use this time to talk with each family about their expectations and give them some information about how we work and how the industry works. At all times throughout this process and throughout a child’s representation, we encourage parents to allow their child to be as natural as possible, we don’t require young girls wearing make-up, high-heels or styled outfits. It is typically not what clients are looking for. What we are looking for, is a child with personality and enthusiasm. We want kids who are excited to be in the industry and who love meeting new people and having fun! What we are not looking for is children of a particular size, height, weight or other physical feature.

This may seem odd, that a modelling & talent agency is not looking for ‘looks’, but these guidelines are not just our own, they are a direct response to what our clients consistently ask for. In today’s advertising industry, more and more brands are embracing real, relatable people. This includes children.

Kids being kids! Teen models for Free by Cotton On

This is why we are disappointed by the rise of photographers shooting stylised portfolio photos for children. When you look at these images, you may be surprised (as we are) to learn that many of these children are under the age of 12. It is not just the use of make-up, mature clothing or styled hair. It is also embracing a certain type of posing, which you would typically see in fashion magazines and other editorial pieces that feature adult models. It seems kids are not allowed to smile anymore!

Every day we work with clients that ask us over and over again for real kids. They want kids who love to have fun, have a passion for life like only a child has, and possess that beautiful innocent perspective on the world. While they may want a particular hair colour or other characteristics for a certain campaign, they are not asking us to simply send our cutest kids! They want kids that represent their market, which is the everyday child or family.  

Teen models for Free by Cotton On

 


So where to from here? Let kids be kids! The clients in our industry embrace that and so should we as agents, photographers and parents. There is no need to portray our children as anything other. Let us not lose touch with what this industry is all about for kids, having fun, building confidence and making wonderful memories!