Although the media spotlights the bad apples, the reputable training centers for fashion-industry talent know how to deliver on their promises.
Modeling schools are an American institution, as American as apple pie. They exist in other countries, but they are not the lucrative, successful businesses that they are in the United States.
Controversy and stigma have always raged around modeling schools, and in some cases the high-voltage media criticism that follows is deserved. Exposés are necessary, but in fairness, the positive side of the story should also be told.
To begin with, the modeling school concept is misunderstood. I feel that if the word “modeling” were taken out of the title and replaced with the words “training center,” or “self-improvement center,” the misunderstanding would be, to a large extent, cleared up. Most schools, whether they are part of the corporate franchise networks such as John Robert Powers and Barbizon International, Inc., or whether they are independent enterprises, emphasize strongly that their focus is on self-improvement and personal development. Discovering the next super model or great actor is not their raison d’être. However, the staggering increase every year in the number of young men and women who are bound and determined to pursue a modeling or acting career has been the reason most schools have added divisions to cover that factor.
Is it necessary to attend a modeling school to become an actor or a model? The answer is “No.” Will a modeling school course help to allay the fears and doubts and disappointments associated with these careers and provide a stepping-stone in the right direction? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” We have all heard of the overnight success stories. They happen. However, we rarely hear of the unhappiness and insecurity experienced by a few of these ingénues who become overnight sensations. These problems occur because the young men and women are completely unprepared for their sudden fame and fortune. This is where a modeling school course can be of immeasurable value. Education is the key to success.
Charles Nemes, who owns the Royal Model Management agency, the Barbizon school in Chicago and several other facilities in the Midwest, said that being a modeling school owner and having great success stories is wonderful. “But the real beauty of our business is how much we have helped the lives of thousands of kids,” he added, “giving them the confidence to do whatever it is they want to do. My belief is that there isn’t a child in America that shouldn’t go through a program such as ours. They need to do this now more than ever, because oftentimes both parents are working and cannot give the necessary time and effort to them.”
We are always very up-front with people. We tell them not to get into this for the wrong reasons. If they think their child is going to be the world’s next top model, they are getting into it for the wrong reason.
– Timothy McCormick
Timothy McCormick owns the Barbizon school in Tampa, Florida, and has 25 other facilities throughout the Eastern seaboard. With a combined enrollment of some 4,000 students, this is one of the largest schools in the world. It won the coveted School of the Year Award at the International Model and Talent Association (IMTA) convention three times, after which it received a lifetime achievement award for continued excellence.
Tim was instrumental in getting vocational school licensing legislation passed in Florida, which “helped the state clean out the shady characters.”
Said McCormick, “The fact that we have been in business for over thirty years speaks for the fact that we have a service which the public obviously respects and feels the need to use. We are always very up-front with people. We tell them not to get into this for the wrong reasons. If they think their child is going to be the world’s next top model, they are getting into it for the wrong reason. It doesn’t mean it may not happen. But it’s like every young kid who wants to be the next big basketball star — some are going to make it, but the likelihood is very, very slim. For those who express a sincere desire to pursue an acting or modeling career, we work with agents and do everything we can to place them. The majority of people who come to a modeling school do it more for finishing, self-improvement, and social graces.”
If you are interested in a modeling school course, but have qualms about them, do your research. When you visit a school, study the curriculum carefully. Ask such questions as:
• Is the school licensed by the state department of education? Is it bonded?
• What are its connections with major international agencies and casting directors? Does it have an agency, and if so, is that agency bonded and licensed? If it does not have an agency, does it have an affiliation with one?
• What background does the teaching staff have? What are the graduates doing?
• Which photographers and industry experts will your child meet at the school?
• Does the school belong to an international association such as IMTA, which will allow them to showcase their talent to the finest model agents and casting directors in the world?
Modeling school courses can be very worthwhile. Cindy Crawford, Faith Ford, Ashton Kutcher, Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood, and many others are proof positive that they can be excellent career launching pads.
Eve Matheson is the author of The Modeling Handbook, a bestseller in the industry. She has been writing about the modeling and acting world for over twenty years. Her new book Model Scoop And Acting Info provides a wealth of information on how to have a happy, successful, safe career and is now available. Eve is a journalist and the mother of a former international model. She has worked as a model, and in radio and television as a writer and presenter. Eve lives with her husband, Ian, a plastic surgeon, in Tampa, Florida.
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