I was lucky enough to start ballet lessons at the age of three years old which then lead to dance lessons in tap, jazz, streetdance, and contempory by the age of seven at The Cathy Carroll Stage School. I loved the fact that my mum gave me the opportunity to try out different hobbies, and I soon started modelling and acting by the age of thirteen and attended the London Royal Ballet School. My stage school background gave me a great foundation to appreciate how hard work and persistence can pay off. At the age of twenty four when I had graduated from Leeds University with a degree in PR & Business Studies, I applied to a registered modelling agency in Warrington, Euro Kids & Adults agency to give my acting a push to the next level. Within 3 months I had small roles on TV shows such as Cracker, New Street Law, Scott & Bailey and Coronation Street. I then went on to audition for BBC’s Waterloo Road for won the role of school girl Celine Dixon, and got the part! Yes I was 24 playing a 16 year old girl, but once I came out of costume, hair and….very little make up, I did actually look 16.
Fast forward to April 2014 when I was seven months pregnant with Rocco, I was at a maternity photo shoot, when the photographer asked if I had thought of putting my baby into modelling when he was born. Strange thing to ask really, as I didn’t know if my baby was going to be ‘photogenic’ or not, but after speaking to EKA, who specialise in child modelling, said they informed me that they represented babies from newborn.
When Rocco arrived, and we were both settled in our little routine, I decided to ask my best friend and baby photographer Lucy Prince to take some pictures at our home when Rocco was four months old. It was such a fun day dressing him up and seeing how wonderful the images came out, that I decided to send them to EKA and register him with the agency. Rocco was then invited to have a photo shoot at their studio in Warrington, and soon after he was soon booked for his first casting.
His first casting was for John Lewis, and I was so nervous. I didn’t know how well he was going to cope in an unfamiliar environment, with unfamiliar faces, and there can also be a lot of waiting around. I packed lots of baby paraphernalia; milk, toys, nappies, baby wipes…as much as I could think of to make sure I was fully prepared. It was such a friendly environment, all the mum’s chatted, the babies played, there was no competitiveness, and it was good to see how he coped on set. Rocco wasn’t cast for his first audition, but it was a great learning curve for me to know what to expect next time and a great day out.
Two months later, Rocco was finally cast for his first modelling job for Cosatto. There was no auditon process this time, the company chose him from his pictures the agency had taken, he had the whole set to himself, and was in and out in 45 mins. Soon after followed modelling jobs for Shop Direct, and most recently the Christmas clothing range for Nutmeg at Morrison’s.
There are a few tips to look for when scouting for a reputable agency, and some things you need to be aware of. Here are my top 10 tips in how to find a good modelling agency;
- Make sure the agency is reputable by looking at the campaigns and clients they work with. High profile campaigns show signs of a good agency with great contacts
- Read through all agency contracts, terms and condition thoroughly, some agency fees can be very high, don’t go with an agency that takes any more than 25% commission
- Your agency should inform you that you have to get permission from your child’s school or your local council for your child to effectively ‘work’. Once you provide your agency with these details, they apply for your child’s work permit
- A professional photo shoot at a reputable studio should cost no more than £150. Every model or actor needs headshots or images for the agency to send to casting directors
- When on location at photo shoots or film studios, there can be a lot of waiting around. Be prepared for being on set for 4 hours in some cases. Take lots of snacks, toys and drinks to keep your child fed, watered and entertained.
- On some occasions your child will have ‘off days’. Children sometimes do not perform on the day, which is normal. Professional child photographers should always put you at ease as this is very common and they know it’s what comes with working with children, but regardless, if your child isn’t used on the day, he/she should still get paid
- I would advise taking your partner, a friend, or a family member to photo shoots, an extra pair of hands always comes in handy
- Sometimes payments for booked jobs can take up to 90 days for cheques to be sent, so make a note of days and hours you’ve been on set, and chase your agent if payments surpass this time period
- Its very rare that travel expenses are paid, so be prepared that if castings or booked jobs are not in your city, this is a cost incurred to you
- If you child is represented by an agency, its best to stick to one agency rather than being represented by a few, as it can confuse casting directors and hinder your child’s opportunity in booking a campaign
The main reason I started Rocco modelling is because we have fun meeting other mums, it’s a great day out for both Rocco and I, but more importantly when you see the finished campaigns and your baby’s face on a billboard it’s a very proud moment!