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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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