11 Tips to Start Your Career as Model Scout, Agent or Booker

A career as a model scout, agent or booker can be a fun and exciting career.  It’s a career that often involves a lot of travel, attending spectacular fashion shows and events, and if you’re lucky, working with famous models, fashion designers, photographers, and other celebrities. 

As fun and glamorous as the life of a model scout, agent or booker can be, it can also mean a lot of time in airports and hotels, handling cranky models and difficult clients, very long hours, and a lot of disappointment when things don't go as you and your models would like. If this still sounds awesome to you, then working as a model scout or agent may be the career for you.

To clarify, (in case you were wondering), the difference between a scout, an agent, and a booker is:

a) A scout generally scouts new faces and then presents them to either the model agency that employs them or to a variety of different modeling agencies.  Should one or more of the agencies want to contract the model, the scout will, and should have the knowledge to, guide the model as to the best choice of an agency for their particular goals.  Scouts are always scouting and models can be discovered anywhere from shopping malls, airports, on the beach, or at organized events. 

b) Once the scout has placed a model with an agency, the agents and bookers will take over.  Essentially, the term agent or booker is the same thing and is interchangeable.  The agents and bookers will book jobs, handle the model’s “chart” and manage the model in order to achieve not only the best jobs but also jobs that are conducive to the model’s brand and career goals.

 

Have a Passion for the Industry

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Kate Moss Discovered by Model Scout Sara Doukas at JFK Airport. Kate Moss

If you attempt a career as a scout, agent or booker without having a passion for the industry you’ll burn out quickly.  The most successful scouts and agents are the ones who can’t imagine doing anything else and it’s their passion that helps them through the rough times.  The modeling industry is not all glitz and glamor, it takes a tremendous commitment and a lot of hard work to succeed.

Study the Business & Its History

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Model Agent & Pioneer Eileen Ford. Ford Models

Have a basic understanding of the industry and its history.  The popular saying - "to know where you are going, you have to know where you've been", is true even in the modeling industry. 

Know the names of the people who founded the major agencies and who currently runs them.  Know the names and faces of the early superstars such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Lauren Hutton, Beverly Johnson, Carmen Dell'Orefice and others who led the way for today's superstars.  Know the names and faces of today's superstars and up and coming models.  Show potential employers that you have taken the time to know about the business in which you want to work. 

Modeling Agencies - What is a Mother Agency?

Know the Lingo

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Coco Rocha Discovered by Model Scout Charles Stuart at Irish Dance Competition. Coco Rocha

Be sure you know and understand the meaning of modeling terms and phrases such as "time for prints", buyouts, vouchers, and comp cards.

Don't expect the agencies to teach you the basics such as commonly used modeling terms.

Work as an Intern or Mail Room Clerk

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Media Mogul David Geffen - Net Worth $6 Billion. David Geffen

In many of the big agencies, and in particular talent agencies, the only way that a wannabe agent can break into the industry is to work as an unpaid intern or in the mail room.  Many of Hollywood's mega agents and moguls including David Geffen (estimated net worth $6 billion), Barry Diller, and Michael Ovitz started their careers working in the mail room. A definite read for anyone serious about becoming an agent should be the book "The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up" by David Rensin.

Be willing to start on the ground floor and work your way up to a position as a scout, agent or booker. 

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