What casting directors will not tell you

Well, maybe they did tell you, but like everything else, you didn’t read the information. So I will add my two cents here, and see if something sticks.

Over the last several years of working both nationally and internationally, in various areas of entertainment, and on major productions such as the VMAs and the Oscars, I have seen thousands of potentially good applicants fall into the circular file (trash bin, for those who are scratching their heads trying to figure that out), for some of the most idiotic reasons. The most common of which is, not following directions.

As I am currently working with models, in this post, I would like to address specifically the business of modelling. And to guide you through this turbulent (for many) process I will discuss the 7 most common reasons why your hundreds of applications may have fallen off the favoured map. Following each point are tips on how you can control your own success with the next batch you are about to fire off.

  1. Phone etiquette: Modelling is a very public job, and deciding to get into the business means that you have to have your phone glued to your hip (if you want the jobs), and answer when it rings. Unless you have an agent, you do not have an option to screen calls. Most casting directors/ booking agencies will call you on private or unknown lines, and if you do not answer, 90% of them will not ring you again. So before applying to an audition, decide if you want to be private or public.
  2. Mutuality: When you apply for a job, take the time to read the ad before responding, if you do not, that becomes apparent from your response. And recognising that you did not read the ad, 95% of the production companies will not respond to your application. Respect goes both ways, you want them to read your application, pay them the respect to read the critical information they provided you – which by the way is designed to help you to succeed.
  3. Presentation: As per #1 above, if you are not serious about the business, then do not waste anyone’s time in applying. If you are serious, then let that reflect in your presentation. Here are a few very consistently common faux pas:

(a). Your cute, funny, and caricatured photos have a place – Facebook – not in a job application. It would help that you recognise the difference.

(b). Try to be consistent with your email names, and the 1001 pseudonyms you have, this creates a lot of confusion to agencies who receive thousands of emails for an audition; 95% of agencies will not take the time to sift through or sympathise with your Sybil complex, or wait until you find yourself.

(c). If you are over 18 years and your mother submited you for the job, it sends the message to the casting director that you are not ‘adult’ enough to take on such a rigorous commitment. Alright, Justin Bieber was an exception. But in his defence, he was 16, and his mother did not submit to an audition…..and he sings (close enough), and well, he is Canadian. Oh, give ‘im a break!

  1. Communication: Encoded and cryptic messages have a place – a texting forum, not in a job application. It sends the message that you are either illiterate, or don’t care to make the distinction; whichever way, you don’t want to contribute to the ‘dumb models’ stereotype, nor do you want to be misinterpreted.
  2. Brevity: If the ad asks for just a few details, for heaven’s sake, don’t write an autobiography, no one reads it, and it simple indicates that you do not follow instructions very well. 90% chance that you will not get a response. Stick to the basics of what was requested, nothing more.
  3. Consistency: If they ask for a recent photo/ headshot, that is exactly what they want. Translation in layman’s terms, they are looking to see how you look right now! Do not send a link to a comp card, or online profile – seriously, no one has the time to sift through your 200 photos, and try to guess which one is the most recent. So unless you are Daphne Selfe, do send an up-to-date photo, or two (no more than 3!), depending on what is requested.
  4. Equality exists only when the lights go out; in modelling, the lights are brilliant, dazzlingly brilliant! And we are not all created equal. Essentially, yes, we are all unique, but unlike acting, where casting directors are waiting for a great talent to surprise them by interpreting the role in ways they had not imagined, thereby altering their image of what the ‘’ideal’’ actor would be, in modelling, it is not necessarily so. The client has very specific criteria for the models they want showing their product, they therefore take time to put together an audition criterion. If you want the job, adhere to the specifics, if you don’t fit the mould, find another mould that you do fit; there are many! If you are sending your comp card and online profile in the hope that you will wow them into altering their criteria, don’t bother, they get thousands of applications from those who do fit  the selection criteria. You are still gorgeous, awesome, and dazzlingly brilliant, but your time will be best served trying to figure out where you sparkle best – in other words, find the mould that is optimum for your ”look.”

Remember however that while it is your uniqueness that will separate you from the herd, being unique and learning to accentuate and present that attribute is what will get you noticed. So a lot can be said for taking the time to figure out and hone your distinctive qualities.

Meanwhile as you navigate the sea of uncertainty, hold on to that dream like a lifejacket, and for goodness sake, don’t abandon your passion and desires just because you were rejected a few times. Keep in mind that prior to their success, supermodels like Gisele Bundchen and Bianca Balti were turned down a boatload of times (uh, um, the boat reference is not deliberate); those are the stats!