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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson Making the Grade Eve Matheson and Teresa Womack share their wisdom about choosing a legitimate modeling school I receive many questions about modeling schools from parents who are considering enrolling a child in one. Here are some of them: “What is your opinion of modeling schools?” “Are they helpful and a good idea, or are they scams? “Are they necessary to a modeling career?” “How can we evaluate them before making a decision?” Before I answer these questions, I would like to shed some up-to-date light on the subject. First of all, I feel that the very term ‘modeling school’ is archaic in today’s world. Schools offer much more than teaching a student how to walk or apply makeup. Many school owners prefer to use ‘model and actor training center’ or ‘model and actor train- ing and development school’ or titles to that effect, because modeling and acting careers overlap. As well as specific instruction for the aspiring actor and model, there are classes which focus on self-improvement, building self-esteem, appearance, deportment, good man- ners, and professionalism. In some cases, a student will en- roll not because they want to pursue a career in modeling or acting, but because they hope that the course will help him or her overcome crippling shyness, a stammer, or some other impediment. Modeling schools are a great American tradition, a phe- nomenon unparalleled anywhere in the world. They are very controversial and not without reason. We have all been horrified at the scams peddled by unscrupulous people who offer expensive packages of false hope to gullible parents and their children. We are all aware that virtually every business can have its share of charlatans. However, in this case, when hundreds of attractive and innocent young men 52 PAGEANTRY WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: After participating in an IMTA competition (losing to Josh Duhamel) in 1998, Kutcher signed with Next modeling agency in New York, appeared in commercials for Calvin Klein, and modeled in the U.S., Paris, and Milan. and women are involved, the predators come out of the woodwork. Unfortunately, this murky side of the business has caused the stigma associated with it. At this point I must stress that if a young boy or girl is taking a modeling course because they want to be a model, they must be aware that learning to walk on a runway is just one of the many mandatory requirements for this career. An aspiring model must be trained for print and fashion work. They must have voice and acting training in order to do commercials or act in television, in movies, and in the theatre. It is no longer sufficient for a model to have a beau- tiful face and perfect walk. I have interviewed many school directors across the country and they all agree that in order to be successful they must be willing to keep up with the potpourri of change brought about by the economy, lifestyles, the fashion in- dustry, the demand for multi-racial models and talent, and other factors. They have expanded their curricula accord- ingly. I was amazed to learn of the strong emphasis they have had to put on building confidence and self-esteem as a result of cyber bullying. This has had a devastating effect on young people, many of whom are dealing with other personal problems at the same time. The career they aspire to has always been riddled with rejection, which itself can lead to depression. The despicable dimension of bullying has caused a new and crippling obstacle on the road to suc- cess. A caring school director who can identify and treat this problem is to be applauded. Dealing with it is more important than any of the other subjects on the agenda.