Florida model-scout Kira Alexander of Benz Models has been in the industry for many years, first as an international model and later becoming a scout and mother agent with a trained eye and uncanny ability to spot the next big “new face”. As mother agent to many young girls and guys, Kira places models with agencies around the world, developing their careers and teaching them how to succeed in a very competitive world-wide industry. It takes more than just agency representation to help a model achieve success, especially with young and un-seasoned talent. Equal parts mentor, agent, business advisor and parent-figure, Kira commits to developing strategies for the long-term success of her models.
Tell us about your background and how you came to be one of the most successful scouts in the southern US:
I began in the business at age 17 as a model. I was discovered by an agent in Atlanta, Georgia, and a few months later, after graduating high school, I went to Milan, Italy where I began my international modeling career. I had a few different agents in NYC and Miami but found my home at Ford NYC.
How did you come to develop your “eye” in scouting new faces?
I think the many years I have spent in the business as a model around the world helped me to understand what is needed in a model to be successful in the industry.
What sort of models do you look for?
I typically look for more of the 90’s supermodel types. Guys and girls that have a classic beauty and can do high fashion and editorial but that can also do more commercial work. People that are not too odd-looking or intimidating in their looks. Women and men the general population can relate to.
Describe the markets that are available to models:
There are so many markets available to models depending on their look, either editorial or commercial. In the US, smaller cities like Tampa, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta are have commercial work for models, while larger markets like NYC and LA offer both high fashion editorial and advertising, and commercial work. Paris, Milan, London, and Tokyo are some of the major international markets that have both high fashion work and commercial work.
What qualities beside physical qualities do models need to be successful?
Modeling is now more about your personality than in the past. The business has changed so much since the 80’s and 90’s and is much more mainstream now. With shows and contests everywhere, everyone wants to be discovered. The models who actually make a living are the ones that have a great, outgoing personality, are intelligent, positive and disciplined. They understand that they are in business and they should be professional at all times. The top working models have a positive internal light that draw others to them.
What are your favorite places to scout for new faces?
My kid’s school activities and amusement parks.
How can a potential model reach out to you or an agent or scout in their own area?
They can go on the agency’s website to see if they do open-call days where they can meet in person, or to see their protocol for submission.
What sort of scams or traps should model-hopefuls look out for?
Do not ever pay anyone for representation. There are costs associated with having an agency but typically none of those costs are up front. The agency only makes money when the model makes money. If an agency advances a fee for a test shoot for a model to get pictures for their portfolio, the agency will take that advance back but only after the model has worked. Often times an agency needs the model to get pictures and will tell them which photographer to use, and if the model is going to pay for the shoot then they will pay the photographer directly, not the agency.
Where can we see your models: advertising, magazines, tv commercials?
We have models local to the Florida market appearing in ads for Disney, Kohl’s Walmart, Publix, Belk’s and Brighthouse. Our models who work around the world appear in magazines like Elle, Seventeen, Glamour, etc., and in advertisements galore!
Find out more about Kira and her models on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Kira.Alexander
Photo courtesy of Kira Alexander.
Loved this Allana. I’ve passed this on to my sister-in law who lives in the Tampa area. She has a very interested young son who certainly could benefit from Kira’s advice.
That’s great Tom! Good luck to him!!