Children and babies are used increasingly in advertising, both print and broadcast, to promote everything from clothes to household products. The earnings can be impressive but there are many pitfalls – not least the number of bogus agencies that charge doting parents for a “portfolio” of photos and then never contact them again. If you are seriously thinking of putting your children up for modelling jobs make sure you follow our step-by-step guide and only go to reputable agencies.
Get your children involved in a fun, new hobby.
Cute, sociable, well-behaved children are perfect candidates for child modelling. Posters in department stores, magazine covers, TV ads for nappies, formula and anything else related to children all need kids to front their products.
In order to get the work, though, your child needs to be taken on by a reputable child model agency. They are the ones that advertising agencies and production companies go to in the first instance.
Some agencies have been known for trying to rip off their clients, and there isn’t a lot of legislation that covers the modelling industry. But independent watchdog ALBA Model Information is a great resource – it regularly updates its “A’-list” of model agencies that meet strict criteria, and must pass a continual vetting process.
Castings for jobs are never during school time on purpose. The children may have to have the odd day off school for some jobs although most of the time they work on the weekends and holidays. The hours a child can work are restricted through the NNCEE, and the length of the time spent working depends on their age. The money made by children must also be put in a savings account in their name – you can’t make money for yourself from your children.
It’s a job that takes a lot of parents’ time, including getting to and from castings and making sure there is childcare available for siblings. Do be aware that it’s not a weekend event where the whole family can come and watch, neither is it a club where you can leave your child unattended.
For all children this should be nothing more than a hobby that they enjoy. Once it begins to interfere with school or your child doesn’t want to be involved, get them out of there – it’s their life.
Once you’re convinced your little angel has a face fit for nappy ads and magazine covers, you need to find the right agency.
Step 1: Find an agent
Check out ALBA’s “a-list” of model agencies. There are still a few to choose from, so narrow your search down to location and then research further. Look at the different agencies’ websites and call with questions.
Children never need professional photographs taken before they are signed to an agent, so don’t fork out for photos when a nice holiday picture will suffice. Snapshots where the agent can see the child’s full face, their profile, and a clear full-length photo will do for the agent to get an idea of the look and proportions of the child. Don’t be taken in by agencies that say they have to charge you a high fee for their professional photographer to take a series of photos.
Step 2: Attend an interview
The agency chooses the children, so you will have to take your tot along on their best behaviour, clean and happy. It is also important to take some photos with you.
Agencies choose children who have a good temperament and are able to socialise easily, so a baby that starts bawling when handed to a stranger may not be the best candidate. Children over two have to be well-disciplined, able to listen to directions, good at interacting with others and happy.
When accepted, make sure you understand any paperwork before signing. Ask questions and understand exactly what you are getting into.
Step 3: Get in their book
Most agencies produce a model book once a year, which goes out to the relevant companies looking for models, and to get your child into it will require professional photographs and/or a fee. All children require a licence to do modelling work or any kind of performing in public for commercial means. All licences are granted by local authorities, and most good modelling agency will help you to obtain a licence – however they will need a copy of your child’s birth certificate and a medical letter, stating that the child is healthy and well enough to work.
And that’s it: from here on it’s castings, photoshoots and auditions.
Earnings for babies and tots begin at about £50 an hour (or £300 per day) and rise with age to about £70 an hour as a 16-year-old. Money must be put into an account in the child’s name or in a trust fund for the child. It’s a perfect opportunity to teach children about the value of money and that earning can be fun. It’s also a great way of paying for their university education as the money has a few years to grow before they get to college age.