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Does a Model or Actor have to Pay to be represented?

Does a model or actor have to pay to be represented? Is an agency real or legit if they make you pay money upfront? This is an age old questions with an answer that is just as dated.

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Modeling became huge in the 1980’s when the decade of supermodels took off. Looking at any major magazine cover you would see the likes of Cindy Crawford or Naomi Campbell gracing the covers. The 1980’s was the invention of the supermodel. With such popularity came some shady characters looking to capitalize off the dreams of young girls. They would require them to pay large sums, usually thousands upfront for training or classes. They promised jobs and booking however after you paid, you never heard from them again.

To legitimize the industry from these run-by-night scammers, mainstream modeling agencies such as Ford Models and Elite made clear at that time– you don’t pay upfront to be represented. Major agencies invest in select talent upfront and debt the investment they make when the talent books work. If the talent doesn’t end up booking work, they owe the agency a debt, which accrues interest, at the end of their contract. It is common for these models to leave their exclusive contract with $5,000+ owed to their agent.

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Fast forward 30 years and the answer is not the same. Talent do have to invest in their own career, it is just that simple.

While modeling can be very lucrative, print magazines are at and all time low and major ad campaigns and covers are usually given to celebrities, not models. To stay competitive and make it worth an agencies time, they then pass the costs on you. If you are not “modeling agency material” (around 95% talent are not) you are left investing in yourself.

Just like any industry, you have to be able to complete with the professionals. A new female model who is not 5’9 nor has an editorial look, is not under 16 years old, etc. would find it almost impossible to get signed to a major agency. In fact, only around 5% of models have an agency representing them.

Photoshoots, comp cards and standard marketing are all tools a talent needs to get exposure. These cost money. Why would a talent agency invest in a model or actor who 1.) Has no experience 2.) is not willing to invest in themselves?

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Before considering a career in entertainment, make sure you are ready to invest in yourself. Quality photographs, and exposure are key to success. No legitimate agency or modeling scout can promise you work. If they do, they are not being honest.

Are you a new model or actor looking to get exposure? Latitude Talent Studios is a marketing service that helps talent access the tools and resources to get a successful start in entertainment. Unlike an agency, our members are in a commission-free zone without exclusive contracts, leaving them free to book work anywhere they find casting calls.

Latitude’s Talent are Number One. Period.

To join us, apply now at


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