When the Seeds are Planted…

When the Seeds are Planted…

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As a momager for over 9 years, when it comes to the modeling and acting careers of my kids you may be surprised that I have had to do the lion share of the work  and it has been all behind the scenes. I always try to warn moms and dads of this, but I know what they see…the end result. They see the “BOOKED!” posts, and the ads and campaigns and think “How hard could this be? My kid is soo cute!” .

They may send a few pics to an agency, or go to a casting and get frustrated when their child isn’t in the latest Gap ad. They ask me all the time how they can get started and after sharing the basics I tell them – like everything in life, anything worth having and the road to any success requires, time, dedication and persistence.

I don’t post all the background stuff because often there is no time to take a photo during the madness. But when a gig is booked…and you are on set, you take a picture! And when the work is spotted, months and sometimes years later…you share on social media. It looks easy and fun! But the reality is much different and even still the work that goes with this #momagerlife is not what this post is about.

This is about planting, sowing, and growing a dream. It is about the fact that many of the seeds that me, my family, all the teachers, and of course my sons have planted over almost a decade have started to sprout. My oldest son Caleb has been in front of a camera for over 8 years, taken acting classes  for 6 years, dance for 5 years,  and voice for 3 years. He has been submitted on hundreds of castings, and been through hundreds of hours of rehearsals. He has appeared in 6 theatrical productions and countless commercials, print ads, and web campaigns. And he has had wins big and small over the years – sprouts of success, here and there. 

Caleb Thompson as Young Simba
Caleb as Young Simba in the Lion King

As a result of Caleb’s dedication and commitment he booked 2 dream roles back to back this year. The first being the role of Young Simba in the Stage Door Productions The Lion King Jr. If there were ever a role made for him..this was it. Everything about the experience was amazing and it gave us all the confidence and assurance that he had truly found something he loved, and he was in the intersection of passion, talent, timing and hard work.

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During the rehearsals of his play, he found out that he had been cast in an even bigger role that would take him around the world.  He recently booked an international Broadway tour! He is going to be playing the role of ‘Young Lola’ in the Tony Award winning play Kinky Boots!! We head to NYC for rehearsals in a few weeks and then it is off to China for 3 months! 2018 is just halfway through and we are starting to see exponential growth and opportunities unfold for Caleb! Things that we thought may happen years from today are happening now!

There will be much more to share once we get to China but for now…there is more work to do. From passports, visas, and flights to manage for my family (and extended family that want to visit.) to contracts, employee paperwork, work permits, taxes, etc. I am up to my neck in paper!

Oh…and then there is school! He will be away when school starts and he will miss the entire first quarter. So…I am in the process of enrolling him ( and his brother) in school online. It’s a whole new world to say the least and we are figuring it out as we go.

And while I am going bonkers trying to figure out life, taking a leave of absence from work and all of my income opportunities and plans – he is counting down the days ’till he boards the plane! I feel like I am running out of time and for him time can’t move fast enough! Oh to be a kid again!

Caleb Thompson as the March Hare
Caleb at 5 as the March Hare in Alice and Wonderland

But while I am stressing now, I know once I board the plane with my little star, I will breathe, and relax, and enjoy. And yes…post and share our journey. And it will look like the trip of a lifetime…which it will be of course!  However, I will be reflecting on the very first casting at 5 months old and his very first solo in a play that I didn’t even know he had until I heard his little voice on stage, and all the nights he went to bed wondering if his audition was good enough for the part he wanted, and all the nights I stumbled into bed exhausted from managing his schedule and driving all day and night.

And though this is just the beginning of his professional career, it is so nice to know that when the seeds are planted, watered, and nurtured, the harvest will be abundant. It will not be overnight. It will not always be pretty or easy. It will sprout when we least expect it to. And we will have more to tend to, and manage when it does but if we are smart we will not only take a picture, we will stop to smell the roses and enjoy the fruit of our labor and God’s grace. 

Booking Blessings,

~Tichanda

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Q&A: Can I send a cell phone photo to an agency?

Q&A: Can I send a cell phone photo to an agency?

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Question: Can I send a cell phone photo to an agency to try and get representation?

Answer: YES! People always ask me how important it is to have professional photos. And it is such a hard question because on one hand I want people to know they can submit simple snapshots to an agency and get booked. Honestly some agencies prefer it!

However, I find that when I tell people this they just scroll through their phone and send me the latest shots of their child…eating, taking a bath, in their car seat, playing with a sibling… you know – being kids! That is great for friends and family – but to land your child a coveted slot at modeling agency? Not so much.

If you are going to submit digital shots, treat it like a photo shoot. Take some time, lay, sit, or stand your child depending on age next to a plain background with great lighting. (natural is best) and take photos of him smiling, playing, crawling, etc. You will need one good headshot and one good head-to-toe shot.

Here are a few great examples of photos of a smiling happy baby, taken in natural light and with bright colors. And don’t forget my 4 C’s – Cute, Clear, Clean and Clothed!

One of my clients Caleb was invited to attend a Gerber casting in Chicago based on his mom’s digital snapshots. And after working with me she took these simple snapshots and landed a coveted spot with the Ohlsson Agency! See! Simple snapshot are sufficient!

Now, I get it – some of us love a good mini shoot and that’s great too. They key here is if you are spending a lot of money – don’t do it. But if you have a great camera, or access to one – here are a few good examples of what to do.

I worked with Liam’s mom in Dallas and after our consultations she followed my advice and had these images taken of her son. And even when I asked for a full length shot she provided me with a perfect digital snapshot to submit to agencies on her behalf.

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Photos need to be update monthly  – especially babies and toddlers so get used to taking these photos and make it a fun bonding time with your child.

Sure at some point you will need professional photos but wait until you get the direction from your agency. And make sure they don’t pressure you to buy any packages or use only their photographers. That could be a sign of a scam so do your research and if you feel pressured to do anything, walk away.

There is a lot of work that goes into landing a job. Treat it like a business and do your best to make a great first impression for your best shot at breaking into the biz!

~~Tichanda

 

Photo Credits: Caleb ( J.Ford) , Liam (Marcus Watson|Marceaux Creative|Houston TX|FB & IG @MarceauxCreative)
Getting Started: How to Ace an Agency Interview

Getting Started: How to Ace an Agency Interview

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Me and my newest Mocha Baby (7 months old) meeting an agent for the first time!

If you have been following my Getting Started Series, than you know how to get great photos, submit to agencies and book jobs on your own! But what do you do when the agency wants to meet your Mocha Baby? I recently moved to a new city so I included a few recent pictures of me and the boys from our visit to The Paris Chanel Agency in Memphis, TN!

FAQ: I submitted my baby/kid to an agency and they want to meet her! What do I need to know to ace the interview? 

A: Congrats! Agencies get tons of submissions every day so a call back is a good sign. It means they see potential in your child’s photos and she probably fills a void in their roster. Your child may be just the right look, gender, age, ethnicity, size, or all of the above! Remember that this is a business after all and they want to sign kids they know they can work with. They often want their models  roster to represent a mix of looks, so if they have 2 or 3 other kids that fit the same description as yours, they are likely to pass on adding you to the list. But a callback means you’ve made the first cut so take time and prepare yourself and your child for the first agency appointment.

What you need to know

Before: The agent will most likely send you a confirmation email about the appointment that will include the date, time, location, contact person, how to dress your child and what to bring.

Print out the email and pay close attention to all the details included. Make sure you pack a bag especially for your child as well, complete with snacks and activities.

During: When you arrive ON TIME – be expected to fill out a talent sheet, get measured and take a few digital photos. Be clear about your schedule and flexibility and be honest about the amount of time you have to commit to castings, fittings, and bookings.

Remember, the purpose of the meeting is for them to see if they like you, but also for you to see if you like them! Interview them! Ask questions and get to know them. Do you feel like they will have your child’s best interests in mind? The agent should make you feel as comfortable as possible and be open to any concerns you have.

If they are interested in representing your child they will give you a contract. Ask them to explain it to you. How much do they take for commission ( 15-20% of  the job is typical) What other fees do they require? Remember they work for YOU! They send you on castings. They prepare you as best as they can and then your child attends castings and tries to book the job. If and ONLY if your child books a paid job does your agent get a percentage. That is how the agency makes money. If they pressure you for money or to sign the contract immediately…RUN!

After: Take your contract. Look it over or have a lawyer do it for you if you have questions. Call around, get references, read reviews and make an informed decision about whether or not you want to sign. Think about the commitment and the opportunity at hand and then decide within 48-72 hours if you would like to proceed. If not that is ok too. Just let the agency know in a timely fashion. If you decide to join – congratulations! Your child is one step closer to becoming a working model!

 

Have a question for me? Email mochababymodels@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Real Life Recap: Lightcatcher Curtains

Real Life Recap: Lightcatcher Curtains

It's a Wrap! Sleepy Caleb and his amazing baby wrangler finish a photo shoot for Lightcatcher curtains. 
It’s a wrap! Sleepy Caleb and his amazing baby wrangler finish a photo shoot for Lightcatcher curtains.

Over the summer I will be sharing past posts I like to call “Real Life Recaps” from jobs that me and my family have done in the past. Many parents  interested in breaking their kid into the biz have no idea what to expect on set. If this sounds like you here is a great behind the scenes sneak peek into the ups and downs of what set life is really like. It takes a lot of preparation, patience and commitment to be manage your little ones career. Do you have a set experience of your own to share? If so, please comment below! 


The client and how we booked the job

August has been a busy month for my mocha baby! In addition to the Graco, NJ HealthPlus, and a family stock photo shoot, my son recently worked a job for a curtain company called Lightcatcher Curtains!

The company sells blackout curtains which are great for babies who need absolute darkness to sleep soundly.  He booked the job via NY Castings where I submitted his photo and linked to his profile. I was surprised when he was cast from the photos alone which was great because it eliminated the actual casting call. Direct bookings are awesome!

No sleeping on the set

The shoot was held in the showroom where Lightcatcher curtains are sold on 5th avenue and 27th St. The original notes said that my son would be asleep for the photo shoot, so in order to ensure that he would be good and sleepy I kept him from taking his morning nap. I bathed him, fed him, and played with him and then hopped on the train (because my car broke down that morning) to the job. But when we arrived at the job, what did he do when he saw the lights, the cameras, the wires, and the other kids? He was wired…and WIDE AWAKE!!

I had them clear off a bed away from distractions, and I took his blanket, stuffed giraffe and pacifier and read him his nap book. I laid down with him but he wiggled right off the bed after all of my hard work. I was nervous because I knew they would want to shoot Caleb soon…and he was no closer to taking a nap then when we’d arrived 30 mins earlier!

When the director came to check on us – he asked if he could put Caleb on the bed for lighting purposes. But once they saw him awake on the bed in his onesie playing around with the blankets and stuffed animal they decided they wanted to shoot him awake so they scrambled to get the shot and keep him on the bed. After every 45 seconds or so, he climbed off the bed and I had to try to get him back on the bed and make him laugh.

Baby wrangler to the rescue

After about 20 mins of shooting Caleb was restless….and you guessed it – SLEEPY!  He was fed up with my antics and was no longer responding to my cues. Just in time, in walks the stylist/baby wrangler extraordinaire. I don’t remember his name, but he was like a magician! In an instant he had Caleb laughing, giggling, playing peek-a-boo, and even laying down on the bed.

Before we knew it they had the shots they needed and our shoot was wrapped! Whew!

I quickly got Caleb dressed to leave, but not before he got his check! We strolled out of the building and before we turned the corner of the block…my little star was sound asleep.

What a day! Want to see the finished product? Click here!

Update: Lightcatcher Curtains Photoshoot

Update: Lightcatcher Curtains Photoshoot

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In a Real Life Recap post from the summer I gave an account of what it is really like on the set of a photoshoot when you are dealing with little kids. Well another thing that often happens once you book and shoot a campaign is…you wait. And you wait and you wait – hoping that some day you will actually get to see your child in a magazine, or catalog, or commercial. But no one ever tells you when or where to look!

So I have become accustomed to doing random searches once or twice a month for the companies that my son has booked jobs with. Tonight, I visited the Facebook page for Lightcatcher Curtains and guess who was in the most recent post? My son! His photo is also featured on a blog written by a mom in Atlanta.

And so there you have it. 7 months have past and finally I get to see the end result. It’s the best part of being in the business. A little piece of stardom for my son who is tucked in his bed, fast asleep, not the least bit impressed with his 15 minutes of fame –  just as it should be.