Advising fellow-mothers of would-be teenage models re. pitfalls

July 28, 2009

Giving yet more advice to fellow-mothers of would-be teenage models about the potential pitfalls: exploitation, anorexia, rejection etc. After feature on our daughter in Daily Telegraph, scores have contacted me with questions about their own kids’ aspirations to become models (seen as an easy source of income in the credit crunch.) Here’s the feature and some advice I sent earlier today:

 ‘Help, my daughter’s a teenage model’

It was the moment when stage-mothers burst with pride and the rest of us start to panic. Our bright, mischievous 16-year-old daughter Madeline emerging from sports-mad adolescence as a gangly, fashion-mad six-footer, said she wanted to try her hand at modelling and sent off some amateurish photos to several well-known London agencies. No problem, I thought. With so many stick-thin, vixenish Russians currently dominating the catwalks surely Madeline with her other-worldly air, dark curls and large-eyed, English rose beauty would have no chance, and just as well, given her demanding academic schedule, studying for AS levels at King Edward’s High School, Birmingham. After all, we reasoned, why should our quirky, bookish teenager suffer so much unnecessary rejection and constant calorie-counting when we are a family of foodies and she has so much else going for her?

I knew the pitfalls of modelling from my television days; the continual focus on size and appearance so often triggering anorexia in vulnerable youngsters, the unsuitable men in search of model conquests, and the ever-present temptations of drink and drugs. At a Sunday Times photo-session in the 1980s, I had met one high-profile model who needed a bottle of champagne before every shoot, another who sniffed a line of cocaine on the lavatory seat of her agency each morning.

As predicted, most of the agencies ignored Madeline’s blurry snaps but Bookings in Shoreditch suggested a meeting. I insisted on going too and after a two-hour journey from Warwickshire, we arrived, she quietly excited, me pessimistic but reluctant to crush her dreams. Five minutes later after a quick Polaroid snap and a muttered conference between the bookers, we were out on the street: ‘Thanks but no thanks’.

She rang round some other agencies, asking if they would see her ‘on spec’. Several agreed but it was the same story at FM and Storm. Another said she looked too young but come back next summer. Thoroughly deflated she was all for scrapping the final ‘walk-in’ and going home. I insisted she keep her appointment (‘Manners, darling!’) and we wearily slunk into Profile Model Management in Covent Garden, where their booker Gemma took a Polaroid and, to our amazement, welcomed her with open arms. Yes, she had the look they wanted and would only work at weekends and holidays as school definitely came first.

The rewards sounded enticing, particularly for overnight teen sensations like Lily Donaldson, Agyness Deyn and Lily Cole: although editorial work for prestigious magazines like “Vogue” brings in only £100-200 a day, advertising shoots pay up to £10,000 a day, more if a girl is part of a high-level campaign or ‘the face’ of a particular brand. Many rank-and-file models, however, only just break even, after funding their own travel and accommodation on trips abroad. This, though was all in the future.

Within days Gemma had arranged a (free) haircut at Tony and Guy’s, announcing airily “all the models go there” plus several test shoots, all at weekends: unpaid but supplying free portfolio pictures and posing practice, developing an awareness of what photographers are after, plus patience and good-humour despite the endless hanging around. The first shoot, in Camden, was the finals show for two Japanese-Americans from a top London make-up academy. Each ‘look’ took two hours to apply, followed by an hour-long shoot, also captured, unnervingly, on video, and had to be perfect. The other model booked, didn’t show, so Madeline ended up posing cheerfully for all three styles, a 13-hour day, finishing with an exquisite geisha-style makeup and elaborate hairdo secured with knitting needles. I was astounded that someone so volatile and sharp-tongued at home should display such self-discipline and Mandarin politeness.

The next shoot, in a freezing warehouse in deepest Hackney also lasted a whole Sunday. I embarrassed Madeline by insisting on staying for the first hour, terrified of white slavers, but earned my keep, fetching car-rugs, takeaway coffees and pastries for the crew and blue-lipped models, posing in thin satin and net. Why do photographers assume body-conscious models live on air?

Every mother, including me, thinks her daughter is beautiful, but I’m not assuming Madeline will be the next Gisele Bundchen. With hundreds of gorgeous girls competing for dwindling levels of recession-hit work, if she acquires some extra poise, does a handful of paid shoots and makes a few thousand to fund for her gap year, I’ll be happy. If by some miracle, her career suddenly takes off after ‘A’ levels, I’ll advise her to take full advantage while the work is there, bank the money then go to university as soon as the fickle fashion world has moved on to the next New Face.

Meanwhile, after driving hundreds of miles to shoots, car laden with Hamlet revision and low calorie fillers; mushrooms, carrots and grapes. (‘I can’t afford another half-inch on my waist, Mum!’)  the summer holidays should see the first pay-days; no doubt something glamorous like Damart Thermals or verruca cream. And will Mum get the odd tenner to cover all that petrol? No way!

 Life as a Fledgling Teenage Model by Madeline Grant, aged 16

Glamour, what glamour? The first thing you learn at shoots, often in pretty grim surroundings, is how to keep very still, altering your position between shots and your expression by just millimetres, with the photographer looking objectively at you through the lens, not as a person but for the picture you make. You learn patience when the makeup team spends hours stippling on absolutely perfect eye-liner or lip gloss, and force yourself to be chatty and friendly to everyone even when you’ve got up at six and are starting a cold. No chance of Naomi Campbell-type diva-ishness when you’re trying to get on the first rung of the ladder and do your History revision at the same time.

You also have to learn to cope with rejection and develop a thick skin. On my first shoot, the makeup girls joked about my slightly bushy eyebrows, then plucked them minimally, and the photographer joked “Send Frida Kahlo out now” which made me laugh as I don’t have a mono-brow. I’m pretty modest and had to get over the embarrassment of wearing just a wisp of chiffon across my top in a couple of shots

I kept quiet about the modelling at school but word got out (bit embarrassing.) They saw my pictures on the Profile website so now everyone asks about it, and offers to carry my bag at Paris fashion week, even though most of the shoots are in Shoreditch and Hackney.

I’ve been lucky so far, though; no bad experiences and I think having your Mum in the background for revision practice and cups of coffee definitely helps. It’s such a competitive world I’m not expecting to make a fortune but I love fashion and a few shoots will give me useful experience and some extra money when I’m a penniless student.

**A longer version of this article appears in the education magazine “First XI” 

Dos and Don’ts for would-be teenage fashion models.

Do send agencies simple snaps first; usually one head shot, one full length, no make-up.

Don’t pay for ‘portfolio shots’, ‘modelling courses’ or places on dodgy casting websites. If you’re suitable (over 5’9, clear-skinned and size 6-8, with the requisite ‘look’) a good agency will represent you free, taking 15-20% of your earnings – but read the small print!

Do take a friend, or Mum, to shoots if possible, for moral support, safety and snacks. (Starvation diets leave you looking dreadful.)

Don’t consider modelling if you can’t handle rejection, disappointment and discomfort stoically. A model with a friendly professional attitude gets more repeat bookings than a sulky strop-thrower – unless her name is Naomi.

Today’s advice in response to an anxious email from the mother of a wannabe model, aged 15.

Hi Juliette,

Interested to hear about your worries over Samantha being approached on the tube by a potentially dodgy man, offering her a modelling course and portfolio shots for £600. If she is only 15 and a size 14 as you said, I should be extremely careful over the whole business, however flattered she is to be approached. Most fashion models are also size 10 or below, so beware of anyone trying to make a teenager lose a lot of weight simply to do some modelling as this can so easily lead to anorexia, bulimia etc.

I’d also recommend you not to pay any money for portfolio pictures, for a so-called ‘modelling course’ or to be represented by an agency. If a reputable outfitthinks they can get you work, they will represent you for nothing, taking a proportion of any fees you earn – usually 15 to 20%. If they don’t, they won’t take you on, which is why the top agencies have only a limited number of people they handle. Agencies that want an up-front fee or are one of the widespread modelling/casting websites, (which often taken around £10 a month and don’t guarantee any work) will usually take on innumerable ‘clients’, simply for the income they can get from the thousands of wannabes, leaving them to supply their own details and pictures, with very little chance of getting worthwhile paid work.  (There are endless chances to model for nothing but most do not lead on to anything better.)

Our daughter who is getting a steady but not hugely well-paid stream of jobs, but only in the holidays and at weekends from her agency Profile has already realised that most models, even with reputable agencies, don’t earn a vast fortune but are if lucky can make a reasonable amount to help out with college expenses etc. Following several jobs, she has had one or two dubious direct approaches, from designers wanting her to model for them (in one case topless) without going via her agent, to save the designers the 15% commission fee. We have always insisted that all her work is channelled through the agent and at this point, most of those that approached her direct then melted away as if by magic, suggesting that their intentions were less than honourable.

I enclose the list of agencies recommended by the Association of Model Agents – (Yvonne Paul and Samantha Bond handle quite a few glamour models so we opted not even to approach them.) There are other agencies, not on this list, that handle promotional models, an area which demands a lively, outgoing personality rather than a specific, mainly tall, ultra-skinny look needed for editorial and fashion modelling. These also tend to get work by the day and pay by the hour and are not brilliantly paid.)

Many of the agencies on the list will take a look at one or two specific jpegs to give advice on whether they think someone has potential before seeing them in person – usually asking for two head shots, minus makeup – one full face, one in profile, and a full length shot in a vest/T-shirt. Some, like Profile, will see people off the street at ‘walk-ins’ where the bookers take their own Polaroids and judge within a few minutes whether or not they might want to handle someone, but most prefer to see jpegs in advance. Several said to our daughter that she had the potential to be a model but not the right look for them.

It is a very subjective business and you need a thick skin to cope with a lot of rejections and spot the con-merchants, sleaze-balls etc. I have always said that it’s a very long shot but that if Mads wants to give it a go in the holidays, I’ll come to all the shoots to start with.(The girls seem to be shown rather more consideration and respect if they have an adult in the background for at least part of the time.) If this ‘agent’ wants to take some photographs of Samantha, do insist that you are present too – and if he objects you can be pretty sure he’s a wrong’un and you can steer clear of him.

Good luck!

Sally

The Association of Model Agents issues a list of a small group of reputable fashion agencies www.theassociationofmodelagents.org

Alba Model Information gives advice on all areas, including child modelling, plus-size, promotions agencies, beauty pageants and potential scams: www.albamodel.info

Association of Model Agents information line on 09068 517 644

List of Reputable Agencies:

BOOKINGS                         7 Cotton Gardens, E2 8DN.

BOSS MODEL MGT          Half Moon Chambers

                                                Chapel Walks Manchester M2 1HN               T:0161 834 3403                                F:0161 832 5219

ELISABETH SMITH           81 Headstone Rd Harrow HA1 1PQ                T:020 8863 2331                                F:020 8861 1880

                                                (children,teenagers & families)

FM                                          122 Brompton Rd SW3 1JE                              T:020 7225 1355                                F:020 7581 2113

FM MEN                                122 Brompton Rd SW3 1JE                              T:020 7584 9974                                F:020 7581 2113

IMG MODELS                 Bentinck House 3/9 Bolsover St  W1P 7HG                  T:020 8233 6770                             

M&P                                      lst Floor 29 Poland St W1F 8QR                     T:020:7734 1051                                F:020 7287 4481

MODELS 1                           12 Macklin St WC2B 5SZ                                T:020 7025 4900                                F:020 7025 4901

MODELS 1 MEN 12 Macklin St WC2B 5SZ                                T:020 7025 4940                                F:020 7025 4941

NEVS                                     Regal Hse.198 Kings Rd SW3 5XP                T:020 7352 9496                                F:020 7352 6068

NEVS MEN                           Regal Hse. 198 Kings Rd SW3 5XP               T:020 7352 4886                                F:020 7352 6068

NEXT MODELS  175/179 St John St EC1V 4LW                     T:020 7251 9850                  F:020 7251 9851

PREMIER                              40/42 Parker St WC  B5PQ                            T:020 7333 0888                                F:020 7323 1221

PREMIER MEN    40/42 Parker St WC2 B5PQ                         T:020 7333 0888                  F:020 7323 1221

PROFILE                              1/4 Langley Court WC2E 9JY                         T:020 7836 5282                                F:020 7497 2255

SAMANTHA BOND           326 Upper Richmond Road West                     T:020 8487 1222                                F:020 8487 1333                                              SW14 7JN

SELECT                                17 Ferdinand St. NW1 8EU                               T:020 7284 5600                                F:020 7284 5685

SELECT MEN                      17 Ferdinand St.NW1 8EU                                T:020 7284 5622                                F:020 7284 5686

STORM                 5 Jubilee Plc SW3 3TD                                   T:020 7376 7764                  F:020 7376 5145

STORM MEN                       5 Jubilee Plc SW3 3TD                                     T:020 7376 7464                                F:020 7376 5145

TAKE 2                                  6 Willow St. EC2A 4BH                     T:020 7836 4501                                F:020 7836 0140

YVONNE PAUL   Unit 21/H.

                                            Heathmans Rd. SW6 4TJ                      T:020 7384 0300                                F:020 7736 2221HeHHHHeath                            MODEL TEAM OF

SCOTLAND                         180 Hope St Glasgow G2 2UE                           T:0141 332 3951                                F:0141 332 1915

Warwickshire Tennis round-up: County Week Group 1, Eastbourne

July 27, 2009

         There was pathetically little coverage of  the long-established Tennis County Week, Group 1, at Eastbourne in the broadsheets, even the Daily Telegraph, which should know better, except the day that Andy Murray flew home to take his driving test and put in a brief appearance for North of Scotland. So here’s a roundup on how my county, Warwickshire got on this week, after ten teeth-suckingly tense, close-fought matches in rainy, windswept conditions, echoing to the sound of seagulls crying and third pairs cursing as inch-perfect lobs sailed over their heads and hit the baseline. (More details on WLTA’s website.)

Warwickshire Tennis Men and Women’s County Week, Group 1 Roundup

          Warwickshire’s women’s and newly-promoted men’s sides went to Eastbourne, the first time for decades that both had been there together, knowing that each faced a tough battle. Both teams, mainly made up of youngsters though with a couple of experienced stalwarts, were tipped to struggle at this level: the women, champions for 3 out of the past 4 years were missing crucial players Hannah Grady, the former national junior champion and former GB no 1 Louise Latimer, while the men were without Wimbledon player Dan Evans. However captain Gary Naughton admitted he felt bullish about the prospects for his rising stars Maniel Bains, Andrew Fitzpatrick and debutant Elliot Barnwell, while women’s captain Katie Shaw who opted not to play herself for the firs time, called in several inexperienced teenagers: sisters Manisha (15) and Anjoli Foster, 17and Celia Fraser, 17 plus Aimee Jarrett, Hannah James and Jess Jackson.

Day 1 revealed the extent of the challenge the two sides faced as each took on highly-fancied Hertfordshire, the men suffering a 9-0 whitewash, the women going down 7-2 to powerful opposition that included Holly Bagshaw and Kate Elliot. However despite the decision to split the experienced pairing of Luisa Cowper and Leyla Ogan to strengthen the team overall, they fought bravely to cling on for two hard-fought victories, though they were disappointed to lose two tie break deciders.

From then on there were highly-contrasting fortunes, the men’s side winning their next four matches in style, first thrashing North of Scotland 6-3 (fortunately before they were strengthened by the addition of Andy and Jamie Murray) on a rain-affected day on which most matches were left unfinished. They then beat Yorkshire 6-3, all the pairs winning two out of three including newcomer Elliot Barnwell partnering Steven Lee at third pair. Next day they kept their nerve in swirling windy conditions to squeak through against the tough Lancashire side 5-4, the consistent Nathan Rooney and James Southwood at third pair winning two out of three after Fitzpatrick and Barnwell had only managed to beat the thirds. On the final day, with survival in Group 1 ensured and a (vanishingly slight) mathematical chance of taking the title, if unbeaten Herts had lost, the Midlanders inflicted a 7-2 drubbing on Dorset to take the runners-up spot behind Herts and ahead of Lancashire,

Gary Naughton was delighted at his young side’s performances.

      “They’ve done great this week in difficult conditions,” he enthused. “Elliot and Andrew have combined really well together and Nathan and James have been absolutely consistent and professional, winning far more rubbers than anyone would expect a third pair to do. It all bodes really well for next year – and who knows, we could even be challenging Herts for the title.”

Sadly, the women’s side could not follow suit and the rainy conditions meant that several 3-setters were decided on the sudden death lottery of a championship tie-break. They lost their next match both 5-4 after trailing 2-4 against Surrey overnight. Despite heroics from the top two pairs who each snatched a win in the final round, the third pair of Manisha Foster and Aimee Jarrett went down fighting in the deciding rubber.

In their next match, against Essex, rain intervened with matters nerve-janglingly balanced at 3-all but once again the reigning champions just fell short,  big-hitting Celia Fraser, 17, brought in to partner Aimee Jarrett at third pair in place of Manisha Foster, finding the slippery conditions tough. On Thursday they clinched their first win of the week, beating fellow-strugglers Leicestershire as second pair Hannah James and Jess Jackson were the pick of the day, winning three out of three and looking a class act. Friday against the useful Buckinghamshire side, whose first pair Jemima Hayward and Julia Bone were unbeaten all week, proved a bridge too far and Shaw’s youngsters gleaned just two rubbers with many reduced to 4-game sets because of the bad weather and dead rubbers played simply as championship tie breaks. The defeat condemned them to relegation to Group 2 next year but with some gritty play on show from the whole lineup and particularly impressive performances from several of the newcomers, Shaw remained upbeat about her side’s chances next year.

“I’m certainly not disappointed” she said. “We always knew that without Hannah [Grady] and Louise [Latimer] and so many teenagers brought into the side, we were going to struggle. But I was pleased with how everyone kept fighting and I was specially impressed by Jess Jackson and Hannah James who combined superbly, volleyed well and looked one of the best pairs in Group 1. Leyla and Luisa played their hearts out, as always and our youngsters weren’t at all overawed, Manisha Foster showing she’s got good potential as a doubles player as well as in singles.

I think it will do us good to have a year to regroup, get into the winning habit again against Group 2 sides and then go all out to bounce back into Group 1 with a  year’s extra experience under their belts.”

Results: Eastbourne. AEGON Summer County Cup Tennis Championship, Group 1

Men’s event

Day 1Warwickshire lost to Hertfordshire 9-0

Day 2 Warwickshire bt North of Scotland 6-3

Day 3 Warwickshire bt Yorkshire 6-3

Day 4 Warwickshire bt Lancashire 5-4

Day 5 Warwickshire beat Dorset 7-2

Warwickshire finish runners-up behind Herts

Women’s Event:

Day 1 Warwickshire lost to Hertfordshire 7-2

Day 2 Warwickshire lost to Surrey 4-5

Day 3 Warwickshire Women lost to Essex 4-5

Day 4 Warwickshire bt Leicestershire 6-3

Day 5 Warwickshire lost to Buckinghamshire 2-7

Warwickshire and Leicestershire are relegated

Surrey are champions

Real Tennis tribute to Pink Floyd manager Bryan Morrison

July 27, 2009

Part of obituary for music publisher and pop promoter Bryan Morrison which I am writing for the Real Tennis and Rackets Association.

I played polo (badly) and Real Tennis (more successfully) with Bryan who was one of the game’s great characters, a self-confessed ‘Crazy Diamond’, the title of his 2006 autobiography.

Bryan Morrison, the charismatic music publisher, pop promoter, polo patron and co-owner of the Holyport Real Tennis Club died in September 2008 from brain damage sustained during a fall on the polo field. A driven entrepreneur, self-confident to the point of arrogance, Morrison came from a poor working-class family in Hackney and briefly managed Pink Floyd then amassed a huge fortune, estimated at around £60 million, mainly through handling the lucrative song catalogues of stars including Elton John, the Bee Gees and George Michael.

He was usually seen chomping on a large cigar and revelled in his  tycoon image of being “the cockney with a Hockney.” After founding the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, he met and played with many aristocrats, tycoons and members of the royal family including Princes Charles, William and Harry. He also employed the Duchess of York’s father Major Ronald Ferguson as his polo manager

In 1985 Morrison and business partner David Pearl became co-owners of the picturesque Holyport Club which world champion Chris Ronaldson and Australian professional Colin Lumley had bought the previous year to save it from being demolished for flats. Morrison became a Real Tennis fanatic, relishing its tactical aspects and playing four times a week, determined to break a 30-handicap. He was furious when he reached 29, only for the game’s governing body, the Tennis and Rackets Associaion to raise handicaps across the board by around 3 points.

Morrison instigated the Villagers’ Cup for anyone living in Holyport and this has now become an annual summer celebration attracting scores of new members to the club. After dinner parties at his home, he would often bring a merry band of guests including numerous celebrities to the club in his big black Bentley for an impromptu Real Tennis game at 3am.

After separating from his wife Greta, he lived in London and played regularly at Queen’s, enjoying the craic with his fellow-reprobate, the entertaining club professional Andrew Lyons, but he remained an owner of Holyport up to the polo accident in 2006 which left him in the irreversible coma which ultimately caused his death.

Bryan Morrison, music publisher and pop promoter, was born on August 14, 1942. He died on September 27, 2008, from the effects of a fall during a polo match, aged 66

July 25, 2009

My first WordPress.com post.

BLESSED CALM, gardening in Warwickshire – organic vegetables and fruit – after a rollercoaster few days finding out more about business networking, LinkedIn, Twitter, media training etc for various Sunday Times features. My thanks to super-networkers Andy Lopara, Will Kintish, Rory Murray, Mike Southon,  Jo Spragg and Steve Sutherland (former commercial director of Charlton Athletic, now working on Olympic sponsorship for Greenwich and ABA), marketing author Chris West,

PLUS voice and presentation coaches: Ken Rea, Charmian Ingham, Katie Ledger and clients Deborah Jeff (Seddons solicitors), Annick Devillard (The Rooster PR) and Faisal Islam (BT)

WARWICKSHIRE TENNIS: Mixed fortunes for the men’s and women’s sides at County Week, Group 1, Eastbourne last night. Men who won 4 out of 5 matches, finished runners-up behind champions Herts – great performances by youngsters Andrew Fitzpatrick, Maniel Bains and Elliot Barnwell + stalwarts Steve Lee, Nathan Rooney, James Southwood + captain Gary Naughton.

Depleted Warwickshire women captained by Katie Shaw, sadly relegated after taking title last year – missing former junior champion Hannah Grady+ former GB no 1 Louise Latimer but building for the future with rising teenage stars. Special mentions for Hannah James, 19, and Jess Jackson, 20, + the experienced Luisa Cowper and Leyla Ogan. 15-year-old Manisha Foster, sister Anjoli, 17,  Celia Fraser, 17  and Aimee Jarrett, 20, all showed promise. I’d tip them to bounce straight back up to Group 1 after next year’s County Week, if they can bear the attritional battles at windswept Frinton, Cromer or whichever seaside venue  is chosen for Group 2.

GARDENING: Digging clutches of new potatoes, large, rude organic carrots, many shaped like bunches of bananas or with bizarre phallic-looking protruberances that would certainly have caused a riot on ‘That’s Life’ (‘Tee-hee!)  plus second crop of radishes and small but crisp cauliflowers. Slugs have only just about been persuaded to share the cabbages with us – tight, crisp heads full of holes like old lace. The hottest small peppers you ever tasted are ripening in the greenhouse: these nearly blew my old man’s head off last year when he munched a whole one – for about two seconds – and was still crying half-an-hour later.  Vast armfuls of courgettes, though I am leaving selected marrows to swell to huge proportions (I hope) and  feeding and protecting them in the hopes of improving on last year’s second place at Wellesbourne Horticultural Show.

Also picking pounds of giant raspberries the size of loganberries and the last of the redcurrants and blackcurrants A first, disappointing crop of blueberries – handfuls of peaky-looking pale blue-green berries so far despite the plants sitting with their roots swathed in best well-rotted Warwickshire horse manure – thankyou Freckles and Mabel – plus potash from the gently  smoking muck-heap and blood, fish and bone.

Time for a run and some circuit training after too many 16-hour days spent interviewing and writing latest crop of articles.


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