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May 11, 2012

Emily Nolan – A Model Life: In The Beginning

We are so pleased to announce we have a new contributor to the Madison Plus family! Please join us as we welcome plus size model (Dorothy Combs), writer, vegan chef and curvy crusader Emily Nolan! Emily will be sharing her personal experiences as a model and more!

In the beginning, working as a model can be very emotionally arduous and costly. Your first day at work, you can get called for a $5,000 jeans casting, you dance your butt off for the client in front of a camera, and you never hear back from them again. Or do you? Castings occur everyday for full-time models. That means that most of the castings that you go on, you’re competing with all of the other models that fit the client’s criteria. 

As much as you want to dwell on if you’ve gotten the job or not, you have to pack up and go to the next casting, travel to your next photo shoot, and schedule your next test photo shoot (a photo shoot at your own expense to keep clients updated with your look). A model’s lifestyle involves wearing a lot of hats and being able to switch them on and off at the drop of a pin. 

Before you get started as a model, you must begin by having someone take digital pictures of you and then you can submit them to agencies that you are interested in. If you are in high school or college and do not plan on leaving the area your live in, I suggest you apply to a local modeling agency that books jobs around your home; a quick Google search should help you locate a reputable agency. However, if you’re ready for a full-time job, I suggest you send your digitals to as many international agencies as possible. If you’re serious, I also suggest you attend agency’s open-call days; they usually have the time and place advertised on their website. This is a time where you physically go in to the agency’s office and meet with the agents in person—also a good time to bring your digitals as well as any of your strongest pictures (less is more, especially when you start off). Another option to becoming discovered is to attend a weekend scouting seminars for models and actors who sign up and pay a fee to attend a conference run by companies like ProScout, who have discovered many of today’s full-time models and actors. 

Alright! So an agency has called you back and wants to represent you and they want you to pay them for representation. That’s an automatic red-flag. An agency-model relationship is a two-way street and should be treated as such in a business relationship. The only thing a model should pay for up front is a portfolio book and the images from test shoots that go inside of them. Typically, a personal agency portfolio book runs around $50 and a professional test shoot with a photographer will cost around $400-600 for several looks. 

It’s the beginning of your modeling career, and your mother has told you that you’re the next Estee Lauder girl, right? That sounds familiar. Well, keep the hope and realize it may take a bit longer to achieve your goals; supermodels take time to develop.

When I started modeling, I thought the day I signed with a big agency in NYC, I needed to give up my career to become a model. In fact, I was encouraged by my NYC agent to continue my career (outside of modeling) and wait to see how clients react to my images, after she had submitted me for jobs. Sure enough, the client’s interest grew and throughout my first months, I would get more and more castings and callbacks than the months before. The client’s were continuously watching my look develop and within my first year of modeling, with my persistence and testing every few months, I was booking international catalog work. 

To offer you my best advice in becoming a model, I would encourage you to look at successful models that have a similar look as you, and groom yourself accordingly. Of course, it is good to embrace your character traits that give you personality or set you apart; I am just encouraging you trim your beautiful long hair to an acceptable length, keep a natural manicure and pedicure, and clean skin at all times. Grooming is extremely important so when you do go to a casting, you feel comfortable in your natural skin with little to no makeup on. 

When I started out as a model, my hair was six inches too long. I loved my hair and thought it was going to help me book hair jobs. Alas, the nature of the business is that plus size women have yet to book a lot of beauty and hair jobs—this will change! When my agent asked me to cut my hair, I obligingly did so thinking it was not such a swift move, however, I ended up booking some of my biggest clients yet! 

Let me reiterate what I’ve said, modeling can be extremely costly and trying if you’re not patient and willing to invest into the beginning of your career. However, if clients take to your look, it can be a whirlwind of excitement, traveling and working with the most interesting people you’ve ever met. If you’re ready and wanting, I wish you the best of luck in your tenacious endeavors and hope to see you one day gracing the pages of my fashion magazines! 

~ Emily
A Model Life 

Photographer(s) from top to bottom: Kate Moore, Viveca Ljung and Jose Amigo.
All looks styled by Emily Nolan.

Stay tuned for more insight, tips and behind-the-scenes fun from Emily! You can also visit Emily at her website www.MLEstyle.com.


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