Child Modeling

Parent Q&A

  • My son is at a good age to take directions and we would like to get him into modeling. We know this can be expensive and at this point only looking at our son modeling as an occasional activity. He is a very kind and handsome boy that a professional photographer would best capture his qualities. Does anyone have any suggestions or referrals?

    Also, what modeling agencies are in the Bay Area have people had good experiences with? Our son is ten.

    Thanks in advance.  

    I highly recommend JE modeling agency of San Francisco. They have loads of experience with kids and are very kind and great to work with. They do lots of work for PB kids, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren and more. They have an open casting call at least once a month that you can go to with your child.

    For photographers, we worked with Ameia Saul photography of Walnut creek. She is very talented and experienced with kids at a reasonable price.

    You should have a contract before you get pictures taken. We worked with Sherri Garcia from Models, Inc. They first asked for a snap shot, then invited us for an interview, then offered contract. She wanted specific shots for my kids portfolios, so it’s likely you would need to go to the agency photographer even after you spent a bunch on your own. Also, we quit modeling because the industry is not at all part time. Everything is booked the night before, so you won’t know until 5:00 pm that your child has a gig the next day. There is also a lot of driving around for “go-sees” and such, which was miserable for my kids. At least, that was our experience.

    My daughter had NYLO has her agent when she was about your son's age. The two young women - Nicole Younce and Olivia Tehrani - who run it were fantastic and easy to work with. (I was completely clueless about the industry.) They are based out of Emeryville, but most go-sees and auditions are in SF. It was an interesting learning experience for me and my daughter, and she made a bit of money, though ultimately, we felt like we couldn't commit to it with so many other activities going on and with academics ramping up. My daughter got headshots from Heidi Alletzhauser ( and they were beautiful but not cheap. When I submitted an app with NYLO, I just sent in a digital photo that I took. They didn't need a headshot, but if they take your son as a client, he'll definitely need a professional headshot. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Babies and Young Children Teens & Pre-teens Reviews of Agencies Related Pages

Considering getting daughter into modeling

October 2008

Has any one used City Model Management in San Francisco? Is this business legitimate? I have a lot of reservations about this industry but am interested and curious at the same time. This is for our daughter who is in elementary school. I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with this agency or others like this. We were told we only had to pay for the photos and then were told by other people that we should not have to pay for photos. Who to believe? Also - do kids get paid to go to casting calls? Should I be worried about kids being exploited?? I appreciate any feedback. thanks anonymous

I have never used City Model Management. We have, however, recently signed a contract with Ford Models for our daughter. The only costs they charge are $20/yr to use some online scheduling program, and $15/mo to maintain our daughter's online portfolio. They did suggest a few professional photographers to use, if we choose to do so, but by no means was it required for forced. I think professional photographs are useful for portfolios if you're serious about it, but I think you can also get by with amateur photos. For us, we're going to use the amateur photos until we get a couple bookings and then take professional photos. model parent

When my son was 3 we worked with City Model and had a fairly positive experience. It is a legitimate business and you should not have to purchase their photo shoot/headshots but you will need to have professional photos done somewhere. As far as I know most agencies do not provide free photos for child models. When we worked with them we already had a ''ZED'' card (the photo card they send out to get your child bookings- like a resume)and headshots that were done elsewhere. It can be fairly expensive- $200-$300. They didn't require us to buy theirs. Your child will not get paid for casting calls and you generally have to attend many, many casting calls in order to get a call back for a shoot. It's really like a part time job for the parent. I think we went to an average of 5 casting calls to get one photo shoot. The casting calls are usually in San Francsico after 3 or on weekends so it takes a pretty big commitment and alot of driving around to be sucessfull in the industry. Sometimes they call you the day before the casting so you have to be pretty flexible. It can also be pretty frustrating for some kids who feel rejected when they don't get called back for a shoot. I never felt that my son was being exploited however you must understand that your child is being used to sell a product. On most shoots parents are allowed to be on set and the photographers and staff are usually very good at working with kids and making it fun for them. I think the most important thing when considering modeling is to make sure it's something that your child wants to do. As you know the chances are slim that your child will become rich and famous as a model so it should really just be something she does for fun. My son enjoyed it for a while and liked seeing himself in the paper but we ended up stopping when he lost interest. Now he's 8 and wants to do it again but I just don't have the time. Good luck to you. KK

Your daughter will need an entertainment permit (good for 6 months). You get it at Oakland City Hall. Need birth certificate and, if she is in school, her principal needs to sign off that she is a solid student and being out of school will not hurt her academics. Modeling takes an enormous time commitment and flexibility on the part of the parent. The model/actor does not get paid for ''go-sees'' or ''cattle calls.'' You do not need professional photos, especially for kids, whose looks and sizes change rapidly. You should make up a reference sheet with your child's name, birthday, height, weight, measurements, shoe size, and maybe hair and eye color. Photos should be a clear head shot (shoulders and up) and a full body shot in something that shows their shape (leotards, close fitting pants and top, or similar). If you aren't confident taking these yourself, you can find a student or aspiring photographer who will do the shoot for an exchange. They get to keep some copies of the photos for their portfolio. You get shots for your child's portfolio. Eventually, most models get a photo album that you can slip contact sheets and larger photos, tears (photos of model in a publication or a cover), in and out of. If your child ends up working regularly, you will be frequently updating these as you get better and better shots. To see if your child likes this kind of work, look for opportunities to volunteer model at a charity fashion show or there is a list at the Sweet Potatoes store on Solano for prospective models for their shoots. They do not want ''agency models.'' Your child does not need to have agency representation to begin with. You can act as agent. (I think that you must be present at all modeling jobs and photo shoots, despite what a photographer/agency might say. There is abuse of various kinds on the industry, including working your kid for too long under the hot lights. Take lots of snacks, water, juice, and recommend a break if you see them losing it. Never be late to an appointment or go-see. Always arr ive about 10 minutes early and check in. I always put my daughter's modeling checks in a savings account for her. For more tips, try to find other moms who support their children's modeling/entertainment careers. kl

How to get my child into modeling

May 2008

I am thinking of getting my child into modeling and am wondering where to start. People are always suggesting to us that our child should be in ads, so we thought we would give it a try. We were thinking of starting with Steele Model and Talent Agency, apparently they help you get your portfolio ready, and train you to be ''agent ready'' so that you are ready to work. Has anyone had any experience with any of this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! k

All three of my older children where in modeling for years. I would recommend Look agency in San Francisco. Make sure which ever agency you choose, you do not fall for expensive ''training''. That is a scam. Your child does not need training to smile and take direction. No legitimate modeling agency charges for training or classes. They take a usually 10 percent or so fee right off the top for each job they get you. Be ready because for every job you get, you get about 20 rejections. Make it fun.

I am an experienced mom of 2 kids that model. You can presently see my son on, he's the one in the tropical blues sections. And my daughter is currently in a Gymboree book called Dance & Play. It doesn't take much to get started. All you do is take 2 pictures (snap shots) 1 face only & 1 full body. You submit them to the agency & if the agency thinks your child have the look then they will call you back to sign you up. Modeling does take a lot of your time as a parent though. Be prepared to be at a go-see or a shoot in a days notice. S.

Hi, I am a studio teacher licensed by the state to teach and look after the welfare of minors in the entertainment industry. The kids I work with are represented by Marla Dell, Boom, Models, Inc and a few others.

I also attended a JRP workshop with my son many years ago to show him that agencies like these were really looking for your money. He, too, was told that he had talent and would be called back after his reading to book him for a commercial. When they never called, he knew I was right.

Save your money and your child's disappointment. If you want to know how to get into modeling, check with a reputable agency.

Warning about casting scouts

Jan 2008

Recently at Target my son and I were approached by a young woman who said she worked for a casting agency. I was suspicious, but her materials indicated that a Bay Area casting company would hold a casting call for a couple of kids' programs, and my son was excited. After the casting call, where about 200 other kids recorded a brief commercial, I was again uneasy and asked whether any cost would be involved, since lessons were now suddenly mentioned. They said that there were six lessons for the chosen @ $25 each, guaranteed casting. They selected my thrilled son the next day, but then it turned into a manipulative hard-sell in which parents were required to pay a minimum of $2,500 (at least $800 to be paid THAT DAY) for a membership fee, and the purpose was now revealed to be making the child a star. It was very hard to see the heartbreak in my son when I had to tell him that we had been duped. I am ashamed to expose my own naivete, but I want to warn others, nevertheless -- AVOID BE. PRODUCTIONS in Emeryville or any persons professing to be talent scouts for them. Submitted by: Linda

In response to the last newsletter regarding the Be productions group. We were approached at Six Flags in Valejo during the holiday in the park, and found it to be rather questionable. But, we did go check it out. My son had a short screen test and then they interview the parent and kid, and admited that there is some money involved but relatively inexpensive. We never returned for the orientation because it started to sound very suspicious. We got a couple of calls before they finally left us alone. Luckily we stopped before we paid any money. Be warned; they say that they are casting for children's TV show when they approach you, but when you get there they say, they are a talent development agency. If you watch the t.v. show on Saturday morning at 6:00 AM, it looks like an infomercial and it is the same tv show each week. I think that those of us who were offended by these people should contact the establishments where they found us and ask them to reconsider allowing these questionable folks to set up their traps there. BL

JRP/Santa Clara for teens?

Nov 2007

My two daughters have both done some modeling/acting/voiceovers and are represented by a local SF talent agency named STARS. Does anyone out there have experience with JRP(john robert powers) training in Santa Clara or San Rafael? They want $2000 per child for a 20 week training course where they state they bring in ''national'' agents each weekend. I would appreciate any feedback if anyone out there has any experience with this program. My girls are both goal directed and ambitious but I don't want to waste my time and money. not a stage mom

Hi I went to JRP many moons ago, it was great for giving me confidence, learned some good tips about walking, video, photography, some etiquette lessons etc...but it never got me a modeling job or an agency - did that on my own. Your daughters are already signed with a fine agency, don't bother - also Stars may not like it-check with them first! -former model

Cathy Steele Model & Talent Agency

Oct 2007

Does anyone have any experience with Cathy Steele Model & Talent Agency located in the Concord / Pleasant Hill area? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks! Amy

My daughter worked with Cathy Steele about 4 yrs. ago and after paying her quite a bit of money, I don't feel like we gained anything.she does not offer anything that is particularly useful in terms of guidance about modeling or acting and the head shots/ hair/makeup are done by her family members. The head shots are something that another professional photographer could provide at a lower cost. I would suggest that you contact talent agencies in S.F. directly rather than spending the money with Cathy Steele. alison

Positive experience with John Robert Powers?

June 2007

I signed my 4.5y old daughter up for an ''audition'' for child modeling, tv or film work that was to be held at John Robert Powers in San Rafael. I then read up on the company on the web and got cold feet, too much mention of scams. I now wonder, is there anyone out there who actually has a POSITIVE experience with JRP? Without shedding more than $500 to get some kind of portfolio together? I'm not interested in enrolling my child in modeling school or spending a fortune on getting this going. I would want to go to an audition with real casting agents who are looking for kids for commercials or other short tv gigs. If anyone has done this, particularly through this company, let me know. Mom of glamour girl

Hi - I was a Casting Director in Manhattan for 30 years and I can absolutely, positively tell you that you are wasting your money enrolling your child in John Powers or responding to any of the ads I hear on the radio telling you your child can be a star. The only way to get your child into the commercial or print business is thru a legitimate agent who, having no vested interest in signing a child who isn't a good prospect, will not waste your time or your money. I moved out here 9 years ago and am retired from the casting biz but my advice would be to call the Screen Actors Guild (they do have a S.F. office) and see if they can provide you with a list of agents. They may not have specific listing for kids' agents but you can start calling around. Also, I just Googled ''Model Agencies - San Francisco'' and came up with this link for starters -

Do NOT spend any money having photos taken until you've consulted real, actual agents, not the phonies that prey on the hopes and dreams of kids and parents. If this was New York, I'd be able to tell you exactly who to contact - but I hope you heed this warning and don't wind up with disappointment AND a flattened wallet - good luck (or, as we say in the biz, break a leg! :-) Carole

One of my good friends had some success with JRP, but they had to invest over $20,000 in order to find it. I believe that their child was also the only one in the group of about 50 kids who did have any success. Also, once they found a manager (through JRP,) he advised them to take all mention of JRP off their resume. If you are serious about getting your daughter into modeling, forget JRP and contact agencies and/or managers that specialize in child modeling. If they think your daughter has the look they are looking for they will agree to represent her, and you will only be out the cost for a portfolio. Not a big fan of JRP.

John Robert Powers is a modeling school. Period. Although I don't have any experience in this, I believe your best bet is to send snap shots directly to agencies. You shouln't have to spend any money at this point. anon

You should not have to pay ANYTHING for your daughter to be a model. A real modeling agency will just look at her/snapshots and tell you if they can use her or not. anon

Cute kid - modeling for 3-year-old

May 2007

Our 3-year-old is extra cute. It's not just our opinion - he gets noticed everywhere. We'd like to make some money. Has anyone else gotten their child into modeling at this young age? How do we go about it?
Recouping the investment

Our princess did some work at age 3. We responded to an ad re: fit modeling and got hooked up w/ Generations model & talent agency in SF (415)777-9003 or visit at You will need to submit photos (professional not necessary) and measurements. If your child is to their liking you will hear from them. The only hassle is obtaining a work permit which needs to be renewed quite often. We started w/ fit modeling (Mervyn's,Old Navy,Gap)in which the child tries on clothes and gets paid $50/hr. It was like playing dress up! We were also sent on go-sees to clients such as Mervyn's, Target, Pottery Barn, etc. These were for print ads. It was basically a cattle call and gave clients the opportunity to meet your child, take a polaroid and be on your merry way. A happy child sure helps you get the job. Once we landed a job we would show up,makeup,wait,shoot and get a check in the mail for $75/hr! About a month later we would see our baby in the Sunday paper ads or magazines. Pretty cool! Now here's the catch. This will only work if there is someone available to take the child to these appointments. The most notice we ever got was 1 day, they would usually call the afternoon before for a morning go-see or shoot during the weekday. So if you're not available on too many occasions no matter how cute your child is you will not get used. This explains the question alot of parents ask...why is that kid modeling, my baby is cuter. It is ideal for a non- working parent. I do highly recommend Generations, they never asked us for any money and I know there are alot of scams out there. They may ''suggest'' taking proffessional photos but no pressure. Although it can be intimidating when you show up to these things and some folks have a big fat portfolio. Hope this helps. Good luck! n

We did modeling for our eldest from 3 months to 18 months. First take some pictures with a neutral background and no branded clothes (disney, Thomas, etc) and send it in. If your kid fits a need they have they may want him. Be prepared to put in time and money. They'll want professional photos and nice haircuts. You have to update the photos every year. You'll need a flexible schedule to go to ''go sees'' where sometimes there's no wait and sometimes you wait an hour or two. They put them in the clothes and take a picture and you only hear if they want you. Your kid also has to be comfortable in a room of strangers without you next to him for the photo shoots. We did a Mervyns ad and got $50 minus taxes, but it's cool to see your kid in the ad! My neice and nephew on the other hand have gotten lots of gigs and made good money. The agency expects you to do a lot of the effort so be prepared. Look in the yellow pages there are about 3 big ones around....Generations was the one I used. former stage mom

I hate to burst your bubble, but it is highly unlikely that you would make much, if any, money by making your child model. There are start up costs for you (portfolio) and then travel expenses etc. Your child's pay rate is likely to dissapoint you too. Child modeling is usually done for fun, not money.

Unless you are scouted by a talent agent, you have to do the footwork yourself. Never pay anyone to ''get you started'' in modeling either, those are scams.

Lots of cute kids out there

I would say to wait. Is your child really outgoing? Does he like a lot of attention? Can he handle everyone looking at him and telling him what to do? Everyone told us to get our kids into modeling because they are gorgeous and photogenic. Yes, total strangers would stop to stare and admire them. Even my OB did an double take commented on how striking my son was as an infant. We didn't do it because it didn't suit their personalities. I waited until they were old enough to weigh in on the subject, and they both said No.

11 year old - how to start modeling?

Oct 2006

My eleven year old daughter would like to try modeling. How can she get started?

Hello! There are many child agencies in the south bay, SF and Sac. What you need to do first is take some pictures of her. Take some headshots, natural makeup (maybe just mascara and lip gloss) natural hair (down and styled). Take some with her smiling, not smiling, laughing and try to get some candids. Do the same with full body shots in simple outfits - nothing too trendy, no loud patterns or logos... you want them to notice her face, not her clothes.

In SF, there is Marla Dell Talent (child exclusive), Generations (child exclusive), Stars Agency (fashion), Look (fashion). In Sac, there is Cast Images and in San Jose, there is Halvorson Model Management. Look up their websites for specific requirements.

DO NOT PAY AN AGENCY ANYTHING!! Their job is to get your daughter work, then take their cut (usually 20%)... that's how they get paid... never pay upfront. Places like John Robert Powers just make their money from people who don't know any better and who's children shouldn't be modeling, so they ask the parents to pay an ungodly ammount saying that they will ''teach'' the kids how to be models. Truth is, agencies who have faith in their talent will teach them all they need to know.

Make sure your daughter has a good understanding of rejection. Rejection is a huge part of modeling and will happen to her. She needs to be prepared and know that if there is a client or an agency that doesn't want to book her, its nothing against her as a person. She needs to be realistic and know that it happens to everybody.

I've been modeling since I was 15. kate

I was a model from Junior high through my early twenties and get asked this question a lot by parents.

First I would say make sure your daughter has thick skin and is not too sensitive. It is an incredibly harsh industry where you are being scrutinized about your looks, your height, your weight, etc. So if you think she can handle A LOT of rude comments and rejection than I would say definitely give it a try. Also be honest with her and yourself and realize that there are many tall, beautiful girls/boys out there but in an industry where everyone is usually extraordinarily beautiful and trends are a factor as well as certain looks being in - she will either have an easier time being booked or not picked up at all. It may not be that she is not beautiful but that she is not the \x93look\x94 they are looking for or they already have a few girls with that \x93look\x94.

The best place start is probably some of the reputable SF Agencies (I would google it or look in your local yellow pages). She will probably get more work in another city like LA or NY but you usually need a pretty great resume and pics to get into a NY agency.

Look Modeling Agency and Stars I know are reputable. Definitely stay AWAY from modeling schools. Rule of thumb is you don\x92t have to pay anything to be a model if you are picked up by a reputable agency. You may have to get a few headshots and full body shots to leave with the agencies but for the most part if an agency likes a girl they take a Polaroid and send them on jobs to build their portfolio. Be sure to check out the agencies you find with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any complaints against them. And don't be pressured into signing anything right away.

If you really think she could do well at it and get signed then maybe a weekend trip to LA or NY isn\x92t a bad idea. You can be much more successful, faster in one of those cities. Best of luck\x85I had a lot of fun but it was definitely a lot of work. I started in LA/SF at around 13 going on a lot of go-sees at first with very little jobs/money but with more exposure and a trip to NY it became a career for quite a while -M

How to get my child into modeling

September 2005

I am thinking about trying to have my daughter do some child modeling although I have no idea how to go about it. She does have a unique look to her and I thought it might be a great way to start her college savings account. Any advice or suggestions on how to get started would be most appreciated.

hello, to do child modeling, you generally need to go through an agency that works on your behalf to find jobs for your child. you need to be ''accepted'' by an agency then get headshots for your child. stores like baby gap, mervyns, gymboree work via these agencies. when you do get jobs, you don't find out about most of your bookings until a day or 2 prior, and you need to be available most of a working day, at the set for shooting. you need to be flexible and available. this can be trying for young children so children who are beautiful also must possess a sunny disposition! good luck!
have family in the business

How to get a baby into modeling?

January 2004

Does anyone know how to get a baby into modeling? My husband and I are told every time we are out with our daughter that she could be the ''Gerber Baby''. We've heard from parents who have had their child/children do a couple of modeling jobs and were able to save a significant amount of money from the jobs for college educations. I know that Pottery Barn and Gap are based in SF, any ideas how my daughter could get a modeling job with them or another company? THANKS. PS- We have no intention of continuing this as our daughter gets older- would only be doing it now to save the money for her. Anne

Be sure to check out before settling on an agency! there are a whole lot of modelign scams out there -- John Robert Powers in San Ramon told me at an ''open call'' that my daughter was perfect for modeling just before telling me that I needed to shell out nearly $1000 for photos .. what a scam! you can find many many complaints about JRP @ .. so glad I checked it before spending lots of money on pics with no guarantee of success! We're still looking into getting her to model though, only this time with a reputable agency (not a ''school'' that claims to be an agency and charges lots of money). I'm starting to send out photos to businesses listed on as liscenced talent agencies.
anyways, good luck! don't get scammed! :)

My son did a little bit of modeling, but my niece and nephew did it extensively. Generations is an agency located in SF and would be my recommendation to call. If memory serves, you can call and find out what info they specifically want and then send in that info, including your child's measurements along with photos of your child. They will let you know if they can use your child or not. It is a full-time commitment with you needing to be available with one day notice. It didn't work for us because I didn't want to uproot my son from his activities, however it has been extremely lucrative for my niece and nephew with an extremely healthy start on their college savings. Good luck!

My kids have modeled for Pottery Barn, which gave us gift certificates instead of cash. We've done pay! ing modeling work through Suzette Blackwell, a modeling agency in SF whose casting supervisor approached us on the street. While the money is good ($300-600 for a day's work is what we've gotten), there's a lot of inconvenience. First, you have to get a license every six months from the state licensing board for every minor child. Secondly, I've never gotten more than 24-48 hours notice, so you have to drop everything and then wait around a studio all day. More importantly, shoots are long and have a really strange vibe. I've never felt that any of the shoots we've done have been kid friendly, and even from a very young age I think my kids have absorbed that. As important as your child's looks are her abilities to be quiet and sit still. If you're still interested you might look up Suzette and maybe send her some photos of your child.
Mom Who's Done with Modeling

My daughter was approached by a photographer for Gymboree (also HQ'd in the Bay Area) in a bookstore with our babysitter. We were called by them to have her come in for a fitting, etc. They took pictures of her (even though she cried), and we had to get a work permit (which was kind of a pain, standing in line, etc...) for her. After all was said and done, I really didn't think it was worth it for the days off of work I had to take, etc. They did offer to pay $500 for a day's work (I think about 3-4 hours). I did like the Gymboree set up, because the kids were on a play ''set'', and didn't have to pose and stuff. I had a friend that worked for BabyGap, and she said never let your kid model for that - it's a lot of hot lights, and posing... I would really think about it, and again, I don't think you should have to pay a thing to get started.

My son did some modeling for a few years ago. Gap does all of its print ads out of NYC and its ads in SF. I suggest calling the Gap corporate office in SF to find out when they are having casting calls. What happens is you send them a picture, then they decide if they want to invite you to a casting call. Then when photo shoots come up they call and invite you. The pay is very good, but the hours are hard to deal with once your child is school age. We always went directly through Gap as someone actually contacted us directly because of seeing our kids at my brother's wedding. However, another way is to use an agent. I never did it, but I did get some recommendations. Here they are (probably all 415 area codes): Stars, the agency: Teri, kids booker #421-6272 Generations: Jennifer, kids booker #777-9099 Look model agency: Jenn, kids booker #781-2282 Hope this helps!
Anon Mom

Wilhelmina interested in our 2-year-old daughter

July 2003

Has anyone had any experience with child modeling? We have a 2.5 year old girl. I was approached by a Wilhelmina talent scout this last weekend and have always wondered about going down this path. Info about the industry, experience for the child/parents, earnings expecations, specific info on Wilhelmina or other firms - all greatly appreciated.

the Aug 2002 issue of American Baby magazine ( has a whole article about child modeling. Turns out you do NOT initialy need professional photos to send in. But try to order a back issue from the website. It has some really great tips that will answer things you might have not even thought of. also look for agencies through the better business bureau website. You'll find a lot of agencies in s.f. anon

To the parent who asked about child modeling, I've been an actor for 25 years and a teacher/coach. I'd be happy to give you honest advice. I taught briefly at John Robert Powers, (which may be like Wilhelmena) and I quit because of money they were taking from well intentioned parents, false promises, and broken hopes. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY THEM. There are reputable talent agencies in the Bay area. You register with an agent and check in regularly, depending on their policies. It costs nothing to register. When your child is very young, usually a Polaroid is all you need. (Eventually you hire a photographer for head shots, your agent will advise.) They send you out on ''look/sees'', and if your child is hired for the job, they pay you. Important Please recognize if the child enjoys the process or not. I've been in many situations where the poor children are not allowed to enjoy their childhood because of their parent's dreams for them, as you can imagine. Please feel free to write to me if you have any further questions. Pj

While I don't know anything about your child's model potential, Wilhemina talent has a host of complaints filed against them for basically scamming people out of a lot of money with the promise of modelling jobs. I too was approached by a scout about my son, and a quick Google search told me all I needed to know. The company is currently under investigation by the Florida attorney general (where the firm is based). Newsweek did a story on the company last month http// It will tell you all you ever wanted to know. Tara

Our 6-month-old would make a great model

Nov 1999

We do not plan to become parents who send their 5 year old daughter to beauty pageants, but people tell us our 6 month old would make a great model because she is cute and unusual looking. Does anoyne have experience with kid's modeling agencies? I would like to hear about your experiences, positive and negative.

I have many years of experience in the performing arts and I'm married to a man who was an actor for over 20 years. My advice is to keep your child out of the professional modeling/performing industry as much as possible. Unless your child expresses an interest (and at 6 months, of course s/he cannot) it seems just cruel to me to expose children to the harshness of the industry. People will discuss his/her looks, body, temperament, etc., in from of him/her in a very blunt and harsh way. The contant auditions and rejections are very difficult for adults to take, let alone fragile children just forming a self-image. It takes away innocence too early, in my opinion. It's a hard life for kids.

In addition, you would need to be available at random times during the day to go to auditions. You most often get a call 12-24 hours before an audition. My husband never got notice of an audition more than 48 hours in advance. The auditions are almost always at casting agencies in San Francisco in the middle of the day. This is standard for film, TV, and print ads. I cannot stress enough how anxiety-ridden and stressful this business can be for adults, let alone kids. I do know people who had good experiences as professional child actor/models, but they are the minority. In my opinion, if a child has an interest in the performing arts, s/he is best served by attending any of the outstanding theatre education programs here in the Bay Area. The professional arena, with its headshots, auditions, and constant stream of rejections is just too, too harsh for children. You can email me at any time to discuss this further if you wish- melissa

We tried this when our child was 2 as he's out there and likes to perform. The agency advertised in the SF Chron and is located in SF. They wanted children who can sit still, pay attention and follow instructions. I must admit, 2 was a little young be we did learn that it takes special child and parent to participate and the monetary rewards may not be enough of an incentive/rationale. The schedule and pressure can be onerous to a young child just trying to be a child. Possibly, each agency is different and times have changed (we did this 3 years ago).

I wish to counter the person who wrote about keeping your child out of modeling. As I said before, my 16 year old daughter attends auditions for commercials, movies, etc. She has never been asked to an audition before 3:00 pm., so I think saying that you would be expected to go to auditions at any time of the day is not correct. It is true that you will often be called for an audition the day before, so it's important to have a schedule flexible enough. Also, once your child gets a part you will have to be with them during the filming which is usually no more than a couple of days, but also requires flexibility in your schedule. If your child attends school a tutor is provided during school hours. Your child will be rejected from parts about 90% of the time, so it's really important that you and your child don't take the whole thing too seriously. We were lucky. Rejection has always been harder for me than my daughter, who doesn't seem to care at all. You could contact me for more information if you wish. Toby

When I used to be a teacher, I had a child who was doing modeling work. What I'd be concerned about isn't the hours it takes per se, but rather the values it teaches. We all know that the industry's idea of beauty isn't what makes a person worthwhile, and we can even tell our children that, but when an employer is actually paying her for her looks and we are participating in that process, the child gets conflicting messages from us. My student the model spent a good deal of her energies paying attention to her image, to the extent that she was less herself than she might otherwise have been.

Considering modeling for 4 year old daughter

April 1999

I have mixed feelings about this, and would appreciate other parents' input regarding the pressures and positives of auditioning a kid for photos/modeling/ads. Well meaning strangers and friends and relatives have put me up to this--I have an extremely outgoing and photogenic (her dad's genes!) daughter who will be 4 in July, and every time we are out someone suggests that she would be a good kid model. I have heard that this is an excellent way to get a college fund started, which is nice, but I certainly do not want to put undo pressure on my daughter to perform, especially since I am uncomfortable about stressing the importance of looks for success. On the other hand, she may even enjoy it, as she is quite the performer! I welcome advice, both practical (such as the names of reputable photographers or agencies) and/or philosophical. Thank you.

My 16 year old daughter has a talent agent in San Francisco so I am somewhat familiar with the acting business. If you are interested in looking into the possiblity of having your child model or act in commercials or movies, contact Bay Area talent agents. There is a listing of Bay Area talent agencies at this Web site:

Just call the agencies. They will provide you with instructions as to how to submit your child for consideration. Some will set up an appointment, and some will just ask you to send a picture. Although it isn't required that your child has experience, it doesn't hurt to include a resum=E9 on which you can list plays they've been in, classes they've taken, etc.


If an agency agrees to represent your child you will need to get photographs. I am a photographer who has done photographs for this purpose, both for my daughter (before she turned into a teenager, at which point she didn't want me to photograph her any longer) and for other children. I charge much less than other photographers who do this, $80/ 8 x 10 head shot as opposed to $150-300 from other photographers, so keep me in mind. I have a portfolio you can review.

Once you've provided the agency with pictures, they will send your child out to auditions. These happen about once every 2 months or so for my daughter. Mostly, your child will not get a part, so it can be a big hassle to drive to the audition for nothing.

Warning about talent scout scam

June 1998

After speaking to another parent about this I felt compelled to give other parents warning. I received a form letter in the mail addressed to me and my 7 year old son (by name). It invited us to come to an 'event' and get considered for 'placement' with a talent agent. The draw was to get a picture taken with a TV personality from some show I'd never heard of but perhaps familiar with the teen set. The offer was very enticing so I showed up with my 15 year old instead of my 7 year old, thinking he was more interested in drama and stuff. He had his picture taken and then we were led into a big room where each child was videotaped during a very short interview. The parent was then interviewed by an agent. The questions asked were very benign but my agent was clearly interested in the part where my son stated he had taken drama classes but didn't have a resume or pictures. The short story is that we got a call two days later to come and be interviewed again, this time BOTH parents HAD to be there. My suspicious nature was at work. We asked around and found out that these so-called talent agents try to sell you on getting Head shots taken 'professionally', having resumes put together, and taking acting classes. After alot of debate on the phone by my husband the agent admitted that we could potentially spend around $1800, which is why they want to have both parents appear. Apparently, at the second interview, it becomes a hard sell. They prey on you and your kid's dreams of being a movie star. I understand around 5 of these so-called talent agencies are currently being investigated by the SF District Attorny's Office. The one we went to is called Rottman O'brien. I didn't find out if this is one of 5 being investigated but wouldn't be surprise if it is. They get addresses by purchasing them, sometimes from the school districts. Apparently, Rottman O'Brien runs these things every Sunday, running hundreds of kids through every week.

I was advised by many others not to fall for this ruse. You can get a list of reputable agents through the legitimate acting places in the Bay Area such as ACT, for free. A reputable agent won't get anything until the client gets a job, you don't need Professional type head shots taken at $1000 each, a very nice picture of yourself will do, and you can put together your own resume with the help of the library. Acting classes are always offered around the bay area. I suggest getting recommendations from others before signing up.

I was told many people have unknowingly signed up with these talent agent finders and lost alot of money for little return. If you get one of these letters call the Better Business Bureau or the District Attorny's Office in S.F. for information on the business. If they don't have anything on them ask around some more. Be suspicious if they ask for any amount of money for those things I mentioned above.


I had a similar experience with one of those agencies (though I don't remember the name). They were interested in our older daughter (who at that point had classes under her belt, and a headshot, but no agent), but made it very clear that, for her to succeed we would have to be willing to re-locate in the LA area (and oh-by-the-way, take their expensive series of classes). We told them thanks but no thanks. Dawn

Talent Scout: We went through the same situation in San Francisco. I told my daughter that the trip would be strictly an adventure and I was not going to put out one cent. At the second interview as soon as they discovered I wasn't buying anything they humiliated my daughter. If I was stronger I would have slugged Pierre! Aleta

My 15 year old daughter has a talent agent, Boom Models and Talent in SF. A real talent agent will only expect a percentage of a child's pay AFTER they get a job, usually about 20%. You don't need to pay for acting classes through the agency, you only need to pay for a professional photograph and then you'll be on your way. talent agents in SF. Many of them have an open call day where you can bring your child in to meet them. Some of them will ask you to send pictures. Toby