Category Archives: Model Agents

Industry Insights with Kids Model and Actor Management “Taylor Made Talent”

So many parents dream of breaking into the modeling and acting industry with their little ones and teenagers, believing that their kid is the cutest, funniest, hammiest, most talented child around.  Being informed about the business and understanding the various markets for child acting and modeling is vital.   You have to know what your goals are and be ready to deal with the realities of the business.  Aligning yourself with good representation and industry experts can make all the difference.

Taylor Made Talent headed by Meredith Blackwell, sat down with us to share her expertise of the business, particularly the South Florida market, for child models and actors.

How did Taylor Made Talent come about?

Taylor Made Talent came to be after managing my own children in the modeling/tv/film biz for more than a decade.   My daughter, Taylor, who is now 15 and who the company was named for, started modeling as a baby and over the years, I learned the business from the ground up, making lots of silly mistakes along the way but always learning and evolving.

I decided to start my own management company because I wanted to help others get into the biz and teach them what I learned from my years of experience with my four children doing it.   I also think it’s important to have someone on your side who truly believes in you and will fight for you and help you get your foot in the door.   Looking back, I wish I had someone like me to help me navigate and figure things out because you WILL make mistakes and you WILL go through dry spells and it’s nice to have someone to encourage you and tell you to stick with it! 

The South Florida modeling industry uses kids from infancy to teens.   What age range do you represent?

I represent babies (typically 6 months and sitting on their own) all the way to teens.   Sometimes I will need a newborn but usually it’s better if the baby can sit independently.   Of course there are certain ages and sizes that work more than others so there will always be periods where you are super busy and then others where there’s not much work for you.  I always tell parents to enjoy and take advantage of the busy times because it could all come to a crashing halt         tomorrow.   When it’s slow, that’s the time to update your photos, or take some acting workshops and classes.   This business is always about growing as a model and an actor.   Whatever parents can do to help their kids is invaluable!  

There are so many model and actor kids in this market.   What type of kids do you look for to represent, who you think will stand out and find work?

I look for something special or unique, whether it be big blue eyes, or red hair and freckles, or a bi-racial child with light eyes and an amazing fro.   Just something special that stands out to me! Sometimes it’s their personality, sometimes it’s their look and often they have both!!   I think it’s important that the child has something that speaks to me, whether it is emotional or physical!    I usually know right away if I am interested in representing someone.   Obviously they have to have a nice smile and like taking pictures and have the personality for it.   You can have the cutest kid in the world but if they hate taking pictures or cry and get clingy every time they go to a casting, it’s not going to work and they probably aren’t suited for this business.   I also look at the parents because if they are not professional or don’t treat this like a business, I don’t want to work with them.   I will not work with stage parents, no matter how adorable the kid is!! 

Can you provide prospective models and actors a breakdown the South Florida modeling and acting industry?

The Miami market is very diverse.   We have clients coming from all over the world to shoot here.   Everything from European and American catalogs to editorial shoots for magazines and internet.  Because of our close proximity to the Orlando area, there are also jobs for theme parks, resorts and hotel chains, and even some tourism jobs that require travel to Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Mexico, etc. 

What kinds of bookings and castings can parents expect here?

I have been told by several photographers over the years that Miami has the most professional kids in the country and I think that’s because they work year round.   We have such beautiful beaches and parks and scenery that clients come from all over the world to shoot here.   Kids in the Miami market do a lot of print work for catalogs, web, in store posters, and also editorial work for magazines such as Vogue Bambini, Parenting, etc.   There are many European clients who come here to shoot their catalogs so it’s very common for kids to work for Italian clients, German clients, English, French, and others.   There are also a number of US companies like Walmart, Toys R Us, Carters, Target, etc., that repeatedly shoot here so it’s a nice balance.   There is also a lot of commercial work in Miami.   My models and actors have worked on SAG national commercials such as Royal Caribbean, Nintendo, Volkswagon, etc., and have also worked on smaller non-union projects.   There are also TV and film jobs.   Until recently, we had several television shows filming right here in Miami such as Burn Notice, The Glades, Charlie’s Angels and Magic City.   We are lucky that we still have Graceland and a new Netflix series shooting here, so hopefully those will bring more opportunities for my child actors.   In the fall, we had several local kids work for the feature film Dolphin Tale 2 which comes out in Sept.   That was a lot of fun!   Hopefully the state of Florida will give more film incentives that will draw more big feature films like that to our area.

Typically, how long does it take for a “new face” to get going as a model or actor?

That depends: some kids are lucky and book the very first casting they go on, but for others it takes time.   It is not unusual for a child to go on ten auditions before they book something.         I always tell people to be patient and just enjoy the ride, and it will happen for them if they are determined, dedicated and devoted to their craft.   You really get what you put into it.   If you don’t get professional pictures done, and you don’t go to any castings and you just sit around and wait for the jobs to come to you, you won’t be successful in this business.   You need to take the initiative and make things happen.   The “new faces” that understand that and realize that investing in nice photos or spending that gas money to audition will only benefit you in the long run, are the ones who are successful. 

What advice can you give to parents in pursuing both print, and tv/film work?

Again, that depends on the kid.   I have some kids who are strictly print and others who are strictly TV, and some are lucky that they can do both.   It really depends on their personality and their goals.   Some kids are shy but take beautiful photos so they might not have that larger than life personality to be able to book TV commercials and film.   And some of my TV kids are character actors who love to act and have no interest in modeling.   Each kid is different so I try to cater to their needs and wants and see where they might fit into the biz. 

Where can we see Taylor Made Talent kids appearing?

Everywhere from the movie Dolphin Tale 2 which will be in theaters in September, to all sorts of national commercials for companies like Royal Caribbean, Nike, EpiPen, Volkswagon, catalogs such as Chasing Fireflies, Carters, Next Directory, Walmart, Toys R Us, and JCPenney newspaper inserts and mailers.  Also magazines like Vogue Bambini and Grazia, to several web series that will be debuting on you tube this summer, to student and independent films.   As you can see, there are so many opportunities in South Florida and really something for everyone! 

For all the Taylor Made Talent booking news, please follow my Facebook page called Taylor Made Talent.   I am so proud of all my kids and am always posting their exciting bookings for everyone to see!   Regardless of whether or not they book, I am super proud of each kid that I manage for their professionalism and dedication to this very competitive business.   The most important thing to me is that the kids have fun and put away a little money for college, and if I can make that happen, then I feel I have done a good job!! 

 

Meredith Blackwell and her family, living the South Florida lifestyle.

For instructions on submitting your child for consideration see the website:  Taylor Made Talent 

Follow Taylor Made Talent on Facebook to see recent campaigns and work from their models and actors.

Advertisements

Child model manager Sharon Finlinson of Soleil Kids gives her insight into the world of child modeling

allanawesleywhite032

Sharon Finlinson of Soleil Kids is a child model manager.  Sharon lets us in on this exclusive world, coming at it both as a manager of models, and as the parent of four child models.  A unique perspective, indeed:

Tell us the difference between a manager and an agent:

The difference between working with a manager over an agent comes down to a few things;

1) Managers work with fewer kids to give each talent the personal attention they may need.

2) We can give more opportunities to each child because of having multiple agents gives us multiple time slots for casings.

3) 24 hour access: my talent know my phone is right by my side 24/7 and even the smallest question can be asked and I will respond right away.

What sort of kids do you look for?

When I am looking for talent to represent I look for things that will stand out.  Maybe it is their cuteness, being photogenic, all ethnicities, bright eyes, freckles, personality, and talent (of course).  I love when a child and the parent is invested, getting good pictures done, taking acting classes, updating their sizes often with me, parents that are easily reached and available for last minute things.

What sort of bookings do your models and talent do?

My talent have booked everything from national print ads like Ralph Lauren, Target, J Crew, Toys R’Us, Walmart, Macy’s, being flown to Mexico for national print jobs for H&M, European brands like IKKS, Next Directory, Vertbaudet, etc.  Some talent have starred in movies and independent films:  The Poker Game is one that a talent worked on that is actually receiving awards.  Music contracts: one of my talent was picked to represent a music group that will soon be touring.  Other talent have booked principal roles on tv shows like Burn Notice, America’s Most Wanted, and extra work on The Glades, and Magic City, etc.  Also, some national commercials for  Nike, Cool Aid, Volkswagon… Every day is a new surprise.  One of my teenagers just booked a print job on a 7-day cruise around major cities in Europe!  The list goes on, and it is exciting to see what new jobs will happen next!

What sort of work ethic and relationship do you expect between yourself and parents of the kids?

The work ethic I expect from my parents and talent is one of utmost professionalism.  These gifted, beautiful, talented kids are working with top companies from around the world that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their campaigns.  They put trust in the talent because of the talent that have worked in Miami before them, and they need to live up to that expectation.  Parents must be checking phone and emails constantly for the next casting or booking, and respond to these calls and emails quickly and in a timely fashion.  Parents must get their kids to castings and bookings on time,(even 15-30 minutes early).  There is no exception with that.In this industry, time is money.  Also, keeping your talent up to date, and by updating their photos as often as possible.  I would hope they would feel like they could come to me with any question or problem.  

Advice for parents looking to get started in the business:

Please provide the cleanest and clearest pictures wen submitting.  It is so difficult to judge how the child looks when there is food on their face, or they are wearing a hat that is covering half of their face. Once accepted with a manager or agent, quickly get the paperwork done, profiles made on any network the company uses, and schedule an appointment with a professional photographer.  And then, as I said earlier, be ready for calls and emails to come in!

Advice for parents about what to actually expect on a booking and how they can prepare themselves and their kids before going?

When a child is booked for a job the first thing I say over and over, is ALWAYS be early.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to the location.  The local traffic is volatile and you can never really be sure when you might hit traffic.  Have ready in your car a “shoe bag” filled with shoes for all seasons that fit the child and maybe some extra outfits, just in case.  Avoid logos.  Bring food and supplies as even though you get there early and you are ready, you never know how long your child will have to wait.  Make sure before the booking that their fingernails are cleaned and trimmed, hair is washed and natural, and you show up presentable.  Only bring the model booked with you, no relatives, friends, kids, hitchhikers 😉  fans, etc…. The sets are not able to accommodate your child’s entourage.  Listen… The model once shooting, should always be attentive and follow direction.  Many clients come from other countries and their accents can be a bit of an adjustment, so listen and obey.  On sets, don’t gossip (!) and always be ready for what your child needs, at all times. When your job is finished have the client sign the voucher you received from your manager or agent, thank the client and don’t hang out or get numbers from clients – politely leave.

How can model-hopefuls get in touch with you?

The best way is to get in touch with me through email:  soleilkids@gmail.com, for the Florida market.  The first step is sending a picture, so send the best you have that really represent your child.  We always contact those talent that we feel we can represent, within three weeks, but usually it is right away. I know immediately which talent I think I can represent.  If you don’t get a responses, try again in six months.  It might not have been the right fit at the right time.  As a manager, I am exclusive and I do not represent anyone that is already with an agency.  

I really love what I do.  I love the families I work with.  I think about them all the time and want the very best for them.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each one.  

I have worked first-hand with Sharon and her talent for a few years now and I have nothing but positive things to say about all our experiences together.  She is truly a manager that cares about her models and her clients.   Find her online at Soleil Kids