But while many beginnings are random tales, for some girls their careers start at model conventions and competitions. Gemma Ward participated in a competition under the advice of her friends, then was signed by Vivien’s Model Agency; Miranda Kerr began her career after taking part in the Dolly magazine and Impulse fragrances search; Chanel Iman won the Ford Supermodel of the Year contest; and Hilary Rhoda was still in high school when she took part in a modeling convention, which led to her first job with Bruce Weber.
Either way, there are many things to keep in mind when attending model conventions and model competitions. A former model herself, Karen Lee began advising models over 20 years ago as the health and fitness director for Camp Model, transitioning to work for agencies such as Wilhelmina and Elite, finally becoming the latter’s director of scouting. And just this year she began the Karen Lee Group, which scouts for new faces. In preparation for this year’s International Model and Talent Association (IMTA) convention in New York City (July 18 to 25), Modelinia got the renowned scout to give us a few dos and don’ts on the rules of the trade.
1. Look like a model: Wear jeans, short shorts, or a short skirt, with a simple tank and current heels for girls 14/15 and older. Kids should look like kids.
2. Keep your hair healthy and simple.
3. Skin should be clean and healthy looking.
4. Nails should be clean, short, and bare.
5. Maintain a positive inner dialog—avoid negative thoughts toward yourself or others.
6. Walk with confidence on and off the runway.
7. Attend as many educational seminars as possible.
8. Express your personality.
9. Be yourself.
10. Research current models and trends.
11. Research the agencies attending.
12. Express your other interests.
13. Thank your parents for giving you the opportunity to attend the convention.
14. Appreciate your local modeling school for the education.
15. Show gratitude toward the convention for the experience and the opportunity to meet hundreds of scouts, agents, and managers.
16. Make sure you’re in shape by eating healthy and exercising.
17. Be engaging when talking to scouts, agents, and managers.
1. Don’t blow kisses or wink at the judges.
2. Don’t spend your family savings to go to a convention.
3. Don’t approach agents or scouts unless you are approached.
4. Don’t give your phone number or e-mail out to anyone. Even though you’re looking to get signed, have someone ready to be your stand-in agent (until you strike gold, of course) and give out their contact info instead.
5. Don’t wear makeup.
6. Don’t be late for events.
7. Don’t wear baggy clothing.
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a model? Sign up through IMTA’s website at imta.com to be a contestant. Good luck!