The Secrets to Navigating LA Modeling Agencies

The Secrets to Navigating LA Modeling Agencies
Paul Hanaoka

Known as the entertainment hub of not only the United States but of the globe, Los Angeles has many talented, experienced and connected Individuals. As many are looking to start or create their dreams of joining the entertainment sphere, even modeling, there are a few tips and tricks of the trade to learn.

Navigating around LA modeling agencies means more than just measurements and a pretty face. There’s many other elements that come into play when trying to sign or contract with some of the top LA modeling agencies. Along with knowing the reputations of agencies in the industry and the lingo, it’s also important to keep in mind your modeling objectives and trade. In addition, utilizing social media and showcasing your personality through digital platforms like portfolios and blogs. Read on as we go in depth on ways to dip your toes in the modeling world of Los Angeles and navigating the LA modeling agencies scene.

Managing Expectations

When it comes to making it in the entertainment industry, it’s only realistic to set proper expectations. Every day, there are hundreds of aspiring models moving to Los Angeles in pursuit to sign with one of the iconic LA modeling agencies. While it sounds overwhelming, the competition should drive an individual to put in hard work while not taking any denial or non-callbacks personally. Modeling in itself, can harm the ego without putting a little TLC or self love into the mix. That’s why it’s crucial to manage expectations when showing up for open calls and scheduling interviews. Plus, because the industry in Los Angeles is so large, there will always be another opportunity tomorrow.

Knowing The Modeling Agencies in Los Angeles

Just as it’s vital to do your research before venturing into any job interview in any industry field, modeling is no different and follows the same set of protocols. Before showing up for an open call or sending a portfolio out to different LA modeling agencies, get to know the company’s you’re hoping to work for. This includes their current roster of models, what they’re looking for in upcoming talent, and who works as a part of the team. While all the information is organized online throughout the LA modeling agencies’ websites, below we’ve outlined the summary for some of the most recognized firms.

1. L.A. Models – Located right on Sunset Boulevard, L.A. Models is known as the largest agency in LA (the entire west coast in fact).

  • Founded: By Heinz Holba
  • Phone Number: (323) 436 – 7700
  • Address: 7700 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 9004
  • Email Contact: info@lamodels.com
  • Open Call Information: Every Wednesday between 3:00pm to 4:00pm

2. Zarzar Modeling Agency – As far as LA modeling agencies go, Zarzar has dominated the LA’s scene as far as female representation. Even though the agency was technically founded in San Diego, it deserves a spot on our list (as it serves the LA area). Talent from Zarzar can be seen in many different media outlets such as high-end fashion magazine ads and runway, commercials and film, and even providing representation to San Diego’s most beautiful women.

  • Phone Number: 1- (619) 800 – 3139
  • Address: 515 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
  • Email Contact: 2018@zarzarmodels.com

3. Bella Agency – Winning an A+ in diversity, Bella is one of the top boutique agency in the city of Los Angeles. The agency covers a wide variety of talent seen in many print and television ads. Their talent covers men, women, kids, and teens.

  • Phone Number: (323) 462-9191
  • Address: 1680 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
  • Email Contact: infola@bellaagency.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here.

4. Wilhelmina Models – Started by a model herself, Wilhelmina Models understands not only the logistics behind being a model, but the mental game as well – which is enlightening for their clientele.  

  • Founded: By Dutch supermodel, Wilhelmina Cooper
  • Phone Number: (310) 601-2530 – Women, (310) 601-2531 – Men
  • Address: 9378 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

5. Elite Model – Founded over thirty years ago Elite Model has represented some of the most talented models in the industry. In fact, their list of past and present roster are listed with world’s top supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bundchen. While Elite Models in headquartered in New York City, the Los Angeles office is very reputable for the west coast.

  • Founded: John Casablancas
  • Phone Number: (310) 274-9395
  • Address: 518 North La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048
  • Email Contact: lainfo@elitemodel.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here. The agency’s open calls take place every tuesday between 2:00pm and 3:00pm.

6. Next Management – Known for being an agency that attributes to and represents both models in luxe and mass fashion. Next Management differs from many agencies in the industry as it not only suits the needs of their clients, but helps work through the logistics of the trade as well as personality development to make it far in the modeling world.

  • Founded: By Faith Kates & Joel Wilkenfeld
  • Phone Number: (323) 782-0010
  • Address: 8447 Wilshire Blvd Penthouse, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
  • Email Contact: submissions@nextmodels.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here.

7. Ford Models– One of the oldest and most iconic agencies in the industry. Started in the year 1946, Ford during its time in the spotlight has created offices not only in Los Angeles, but New York, Paris, and Chicago.

  • Founded: Eileen and Jerry Ford
  • Phone Number: (310) 276-8100
  • Address: 9200 Sunset Boulevard Suite 817, West Hollywood, CA 90069
  • Email Contact: la@fordmodels.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here. The agency’s open calls take place every tuesday between 3:00pm and 4:00pm

8. Q Models– Being one of the relatively new LA modeling agencies in the industry, Q Models was founded in 1998. Q Models have been seen modeling and representing brands like: Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Pantene, Sephora, Revlon, Apple, and Nike.

  • Founded: Jeffrey Kolsrud
  • Phone Number: (310) 205-2888
  • Address: 8618 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
  • Email Contact: la@qmanagementinc.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here.  

9. Hollywood Model Management (HMM)– Working as one of the top full service LA modeling agencies, HMM is more recognized as a boutique style company. Given the smaller size (less corporate nature) of their agency, HMM specializes in focusing on the needs and demands of their client list. Everything from representation, to personal brand building, to counseling are only a few list items offered by HMM.

  • Phone Number: (323) 871-1240
  • Address: 953 Cole Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
  • Email Contact: info@hmmla.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here. The agency’s open calls take place every wednesday between 3:00pm and 4:00pm  

10. Vision Models LA– Started in 1999, before the turn of the millenium, Vision Models LA is a reputable boutique-styled modeling agency that covers both fashion and beauty brands which attribute to brand’s print/television ads and runway representation.  

  • Founded: By Francine Champagne
  • Phone Number: (310) 733-4440
  • Address: 8631 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
  • Email Contact: info@visionlosangeles.com
  • Open Call/Scout Information: Online portal submissions can be found online, here. Vision is currently not hosting any open calls.

Keep A Mental Clarity

Unfortunately, while modeling is an incredible career that can support so many beautiful messages, elaborate fashion, and jaw-dropping beauty, it is also a career that can face a great deal of rejection. Like we mentioned in managing your expectations, it’s important to caveat that keeping a clear mind and self-gratefulness are crucial to continuing to persist in the modeling world. The best ways to create mental clarity include yoga and meditation, eating healthy, engaging in cardio workouts (to get the blood pumping), and communicating how you feel (whether keeping a journal, or leaning into the shoulder of loved ones).

Learn The Ins and Outs

There’s an art to LA modeling agencies, and it’s more than having the proper measurements, piercing eyes, and a handle on practicing the most flattering poses. Just like any career, modeling is based around the idea of turning a revenue and making profit. More than likely the modeling you engage in will be focused around trying to sell a product, whether it’s makeup, skincare, or fashion. Just like a sales representative talking up the product to sell to consumers or retailers, a model must exude passion (on camera or film) for the product or service they’re shooting for. This means that not all shoots are the same and shouldn’t take on the same persona. The same can be said for LA modeling agencies. Each has their own reputation, sense of authority, and roster of talent. When showing up to an open call or answering an online submission page, do your research. Learn which elements of you would fit the agency best and show those traits off!

Work On Your Portfolio

Portfolios (or books) are crucial when trying to get jobs in the modeling industry. But on the other hand, when applying for LA modeling agencies, they’re not typically looking at your previous modeling work but instead generic front and back images. So, here at the Hub we say work on both. First, invest in headshots and full body images that are recommended by each of the LA modeling agencies. While typically models are looking to get paid for standing behind the camera, this is where you dish out a little excess cash to ensure you’re getting top quality images to showcase to the best agencies. Simultaneously, many photographers will be looking for models to shoot as they grow their portfolios. While some of the initial sessions will not pay, they won’t make you pay either. These shots can be beneficial as they grow your portfolio while giving you practice in front of a camera.

Specify Your Trade

Many individuals who look to join the industry and sign with one of the major LA modeling agencies are missing one vital element to ensuring their careers, and that is specifying your trade. Just like entering college where you declare your major, you must specify which area of modeling your focus would like to be on. Specifying your trade usually relies on two different aspects, your passion and your body. If your face has perfect symmetry with defining features, you’re most likely going to want to pursue portrait based photography which can range from concentrating in makeup, cologne/perfume, and skincare. Or maybe you have legs for days, you may want to consider lifestyle and fashion. There are those women who are bustier with englogated torsos, they may look to shoot swim or lingerie. The list of potential avenues to specify are endless. Even those with exceptionally beautiful hands may decide that they’re pursuing a career in hand modeling. The earlier you decide your trade, the more likely you’ll rise in the modeling industry.

Know Your Strengths

Just like specifying your trade, it’s going to take a while to decide which avenue to take in modeling if you don’t know your strengths. Your strengths can pertain to both mental and physical aspects. If you’re someone who’s not nervous in front of crowds and can walk comfortably in high heels (women), you may be a perfect candidate for runway. Versus those who enjoy the intimacy of a set, but have no problem working twelve hour days under set lights. These are all important realizations to have when applying and auditioning for LA modeling agencies. These companies are looking for both men and women to represent that have a clear idea of what they want from their agency and from the jobs they’re casting for.

Starting When You’re Young

Other than the LA modeling agencies that specifically mention representing children and teens, it’s completely common for the tradition representation to happen at a younger age. Today, many of the listed LA modeling agencies above caveat that they’re looking for women over fourteen years old and men over sixteen years old. The reason why so many agencies request those who are younger to join their roster, has to do with two different elements, the wide range of potential castings and the ability to shape a model’s career and image over time. The Hub Highlight also wants to point out that it’s never too late to start your career in the modeling industry and to chase after your dream career if modeling is something you want to do.

Utilize Social Media

In each of the online submission pages listed above, they ask for handles of every social media platform. Why? Because LA modeling agencies believe this is where they’re going to learn a great deal about the kind of person you are and the model they’re going to represent. Are you a social person who gets along with others, do you have a cool sense of style, do you have a lot of distractions and like to go out frequently. They’re also looking to see if you’ve already made a name for yourself online. Just like any career, both brands and agencies are looking to turn a profit. Often, brands contract to have their modeling ambassadors post to their own social pages for exposure. Someone with reach to 500 people, doesn’t seem as desirable as someone who has access to 10,000 people (which is essentially a micro influencer). As you’re looking to grow your modeling career, grow your social following by engaging in various social tactics like hashtags, tagging, and building a community.

Learn The Hot Spots

More so than learning the Los Angeles extreme hot spots where models, producers and agents hang out (which also would be ideal), just be out and about looking your best. Many of today’s supermodels were discovered while simply being out of their home and in popular locations. For example, Coco Rocha was discovered at an Irish dance competition. Gisele Bundchen was shopping in Sao Paolo, Brazil at fourteen years old when she was approached. It even goes to show that taking what many perceive as a ‘nothing’ gig can be the position that offers a big break. At thirteen years old, Karlie Kloss was walking in a charity fashion show at a mall in St. Louis where she was later approached and asked if she’d like to pursue her modeling career.  

Showcase Your Personality

Since we’re in the age of social media, more and more talent and models are seeing a rise in behind the scenes footage. The reason for the BTS footage (often an abbreviation used on branding contracts for behind the scenes), is for brands and publications to create more content to share on their Instagrams, YouTube pages, and Facebook video ads. If a modeling ambassador to the brand is just a pretty face with not much personality to showcase on camera, the content is going to be hard to share and go viral. The major supermodels of today’s world are no longer vessels for makeup and clothing, but brands in themselves. We know that Gigi Hadid loves hamburgers, Kendall Jenner has a fear of flying, and Emily Didonato is a yoga instructor. Don’t be afraid to showcase your quirky and let the LA modeling agencies know a little bit about you as a person.  

Develop Wellness Routines

Long gone are the days of models being the unhealthy party girls, no brand nor agency wants their talent to show up tired or with bags under their eyes, especially to a twelve hour shoot day. That being said, LA modeling agencies are now encouraging and asking their potential clients on submission pages and open calls the details around their wellness routines. It appears as though unhealthy habits are out and burpees are in. The key to making it in the modeling industry, especially when it comes to LA modeling agencies is being healthy. As you may become the face of a product or service, the consumers have to believe that you’re living a healthy lifestyle to aspire them to follow or have a similar sense of relatability.   

Learn The Lingo

When it comes to being well versed in the modeling agency world, it means that you’ve gotten the lingo and word terminology down to a science. As these are necessary precursors to signing with any of the reputable LA Modeling Agencies, The Hub thought it’d be wise to share some of the most used terms in the modeling and photography world:

  • Go-See: Can be referred to as a model’s audition. It typically means that the photographer, brand, or agency is doing an in-person meeting/audition for next round or final approval.
  • Request Go-See: Like a go-see, but the model was requested specifically to be seen or attend a job.
  • Test Shot: Refers to a photo that is not being used for an ad or branding material, but instead a photographer’s portfolio.
  • Usage: A very important term to know as a model, and many don’t. Usage pertains to where a picture or photograph will live and for how long. Additionally with usage comes usage rights, which typically deal with payments/run times/etc.
  • Square To The Camera: This is often a phrase a photographer or director will say if they’re wanting their talent to position their body and face/stare into the camera’s lense.
  • Photo Credit: This is where talent give their photography the acknowledgment on various platforms (like social media), when reposting the picture.
  • Model Release Form: Can also be known as a buyout (when in perpetuity). This means that the model is signing over their featured image to be used by the photographer or brand as they wish for upcoming material.
  • Art Director: When shooting for a brand (typically), talent will work with an art direction. Usually hired by the ad agency, the art director is the voice/creator of the image’s vision or the brands perception.
  • Fit Model: These are models that reflect the same measurement as the featured talent but are used to size clothing before the shoot to make sure it will fit for the day of.
  • Book: Another term used for a model’s portfolio, or assortment of images to be given during an open casting call.
  • Parts Model: While some models shoot for fashion with lifestyle shots, or beauty with portrait shots, some models are parts models. For example, hand models can be used for anything from phone commercial to nail polish ads. There’s even lash models, who can demonstrate their long eyelashes in mascara commercials. 

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