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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Does Your Child Have the Look: Interview with JE Model and Talent Agent Shannon Malloy

I know that as moms we have one time or another said my kid should be in movies. It’s natural to think your kid is the greatest and cutest child ever known to man. Now if you are anything like me you said “I need to find my kid an agent…NOW!” But like the good moms that we all are there are undeniably some questions and concerns that we all have when we consider putting our child in the industry. My son Daylan has been blessed to have a really great agent by the name of Shannon Malloy of JE Model and Talent in San Francisco, who was nice enough to take some time to be interviewed by us. Check out the interview below:

I would like to first thank you for taking the time to do an interview with us and second was wondering what made you want to become an agent?

Of course! Thank you for requesting an interview! I love interviews about my job because I love educating people on this business. There is so much information out there—good and bad—I like to help shed some light and hopefully guide people in the right direction!

I started out at JE in 2004, during my last year of college, as the agency’s intern. The kid’s division was not a main focus of the agency at the time, but after I graduated, the owners, John & Phillip, asked me to stay on and build the department. Since then, it has become a successful, thriving division and one of the agency’s biggest assets.

Now you work for JE Model and Talent in San Francisco what sets this agency apart from the rest?

The main benefit for models and actors working with JE is the people you work with, the agents and agency staff. We are a talent-centric agency, meaning we have a sincere appreciation and belief in each and every person we represent. We are not after a “quick buck”, but rather, we consider the longevity and value of each talent’s career. We are not the biggest agency, and we keep it that way on purpose. We treat our talent like family, we and are here to answer questions, give honest feedback, and guide your career from day one.

There are so many parents out there that think that their child has the look and what it takes to become a model. How would you suggest they approach potential agencies?

Of course every parent thinks their child is beautiful, smart and amazing—and they are! If you are thinking of submitting your child for representation, go for it, but don’t take it personally if you do not receive a positive response. Here are my suggestions for submitting: First, take a few good new snapshots so you are sending in photos that are very recent. I prefer non-professional photos for submissions. There should be a variety of current shots, all in good light, outdoors if possible, with natural hair and smiling. Don’t include photos with other people in them or anything too distracting. If the agency you are submitting to accepts email submissions, follow their guidelines (usually listed on their website) and send over an email. If they don’t, follow their guidelines for mailing in your child’s photos, sizes, etc. You should hear back within a week or so.

A few more tips: Don’t drop by the agency to drop off photos… PLEASE follow the guidelines listed online. Don’t call and ask if we received it or if we’ve made a decision. I promise we call everyone we are interested in right away! If you don’t get a call, try resubmitting with updated photos in 6 months. You may not receive a reason for why you were not asked to come in for an interview, but it could be that the agency just didn’t need children in your child’s sizes or age range at that time. Just remember to stay positive and don’t be disappointed if an agency doesn’t accept your child. This business is a fickle one…you never know what they’re looking for.

What are some things that you as an agent look for when considering representing a child?

When I first receive a submission, first I look to see if the parent included all of the required info. That’s why I say it’s so important to follow the guidelines! Then I look to see if the child seems happy, able to connect with the camera and seems to like having his/her photo taken. I like to see kids as they are, not “posed” or with any makeup at all. Even if the child is super cute, I have to take a look at our board and see if he or she will fit on the board. If we already have for example, 3 kids in a similar category (age, ethnicity, look, etc), we will likely not bring on another child with similar features. We like taking on new kids who fill a void on our board, someone we don’t have already, so we have a range to show our clients.

If the child has been asked to come in to meet with us, we look for personality (outgoing, happy, loves to meet new people), parent availability (you have to be able to drop everything to run to a last minute casting!), and if JE and the potential family seem to be an overall match. We like working with people we like. This is one of the keys to JE’s success. The parents and the agents have to get along and trust each other to make the working relationship a success.

Children are one thing but have you ever had to stop representing a client because of their parents? What is some advice that you can give parents such as what not to do?

Yes, unfortunately, sometimes the parents end up getting in the way of their child’s career. It hasn’t happened very often, because we try to gauge during the initial meeting if we will be able to work with the parents and whether it’s the child or the parent who really wants to do this. Parents must be realistic. Your child is probably not going to become Hannah Montana (at least not overnight)! Parents have to trust that we are doing everything we can to get their child work and trust the advice we give them. While on set, parents need to let the clients do their job and not try to be overly involved. The bottom line is the following 3 crucial pieces of advice: 1. Stay on top of your child’s career (updating photos & work permits, calling your agency back when they call, etc), but 2. Be patient, and 3. Let your child have fun! Don’t put pressure on them; again it should be fun for them. Otherwise, every casting and job will be a battle between you and your child and/or add undue stress on your child….not what anyone needs!

When getting a child into modeling what are some things that all parents should consider before going down this road? Misconceptions?

I wrote this list of things to think about before submitting for an article for Bay Area Kids Magazine http://www.bakidsmagazine.com/forparents.html:


Before submitting a photo, DO ...
Know your child. Is he extroverted with strangers? Does he mind being told what to wear? Does he take direction well?

Ask your child. Does she want to do it? If she is not old enough to understand, think about the following: Is she happy having her picture taken? Does she like trying on clothes? Does she like meeting and speaking to other kids and adults?
Evaluate your lifestyle. You must be flexible. If both parents work full time, your family travels for months at a time, or if you are unable to pull your child from school for jobs & auditions, you might decide modeling is not the right path for your family. If you have multiple children, are you able to arrange or pay for child care for your other children when you need to bring your young talent to see a client?

Have realistic expectations. Modeling is not always the glamorous life portrayed on TV. You will spend a lot of time in the car or in a waiting room. Very few kids skyrocket to superstardom. Normally, models start out in their local market doing print work for catalogs, online sites and some commercials. While bigger jobs such as TV shows and movie opportunities do come up, they are less frequent. Think of every go-see (meeting with a client) as a positive experience for your child.

Be prepared for rejection. The fact is, your child may not be accepted by every agency in town and they certainly won't book every job they audition for. It's nothing personal. Stay positive and keep at it as long as your child is having fun.
Be ready to drop everything. After you've signed with an agency, that's when the work begins. Jobs and castings happen at the last minute. You will normally get calls the night before you need to be somewhere. Updating photos, sizes and Entertainment Work Permits are your responsibility.
Let your child speak for themselves. Whether meeting with an agent or a client, your child should answer questions directed to them. Encourage them by not answering for them.
Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about a "modeling school" or agency, listen to your gut. Do your research and ask questions.
Remember: this is a job. Be prepared and on time to everything! On set, parents need to step back and let the crew direct the models. Parents should remain professional at all times. You never know who the person standing next to you might be. Remember, the objective of the shoot is not to add to your scrapbook, it's to produce an image that will attract buyers to a product.
Relax and Enjoy! Yes, it will be stressful for you, but pursuing a modeling career for your child should be fun for them. The less you stress, the more enjoyable it is for everyone.

by Shannon Malloy, children's agent at JE Model


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