Getting my baby into modeling -- Oh, I swore I'd never be THAT mother!

Oh, boy. I really never thought I’d be THAT mom. You know, the one who’s all like “My baby is the most beautiful thing in the world and not just in MY eyes. That baby needs to be in the pictures!”

But Baby Smaje, nearing 9 months old, is seriously cute (I have no idea where she gets it from – Dad and I are ok-looking, but she is gorgeous!). Full head of hair. Big blue eyes. The buttoniest of noses. Smile that threatens to crack her face. And an amazing, friendly demeanor to match. Utterly photogenic.

Enough people have told me that she ought to be a baby model that I’m starting to believe it. I’m sure lots and lots of people tell that to parents of a new baby, but it’s starting to sink in a little.

Mr. Smaje is currently watching the baby at home and working freelance, so we have the time to focus on trying to get her little baby modeling jobs, but I’m not sure where to start. Plus, we live in Seattle, not LA or New York.

Have any Doper parents tried to get their little ones into the biz? Any Dopers work in the biz as a baby? Please tell me about your experiences!

No experience, but just wanted to say hell yeah, go for it, and put all the money you earn into her college fund!

Please don’t. Baby modeling is a soul-eating pastime.

Before you do this post pictures of the baby here or on another message board and verify with people who are not in any way really connected to you that your baby is adorable enough to pull off modeling. I’ve talked to enough people who who’ve said something like, “Your baby should be in the movies!” to someone but meant, “Your baby should be in the movies! Horror movies, that is!” because they wanted to say something nice about the kid. You will obviously always think she is the most gorgeous baby in the world (just like I will always think mine will be the most gorgeous baby in the world and my cousin will always think her baby will be the most gorgeous baby, etc.) and her not being model material certainly wouldn’t mean she was freak show ugly or anything, but don’t invest in head shots and an agent and all that stuff if your kid doesn’t really have what it takes to model for diapers and baby food.

Do you have any personal experience with it, Ogre? Please do tell!

But if you’re concerned because you’ve seen a few episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras, please don’t fret. I’m not going to put mascara and a halter top on her. :slight_smile:

I could easily post pictures here and get the opinions of laypeople, but what I’d like to do is get a photo of her into the hands of someone who is professionally qualified to determine whether or not she has what it takes to model. The question is, who would that person be?

I do not want to invest in baby head shots, or pay money to sign her up for some sort of talent agency. I’m on the mind that if you have to pay someone for that, it’s a scam.

I have a close friend whose mother is actually a child agent. With babies and very young children looks are generally a non-issue; what matters is temperament. You could have the unanimously, universally agreed upon “cutest baby who ever lived” but if she’s going to scream her head off all day, or take forever to cooperate with the photographer/cameraman/other actors, you’re not going to get anywhere.

The Page Parkes Agency has a good reputation. You might see if they’re in your area and give them a call for details.

It’s a slippery slope from baby modeling to beauty pageants…

I don’t think so. I’ve known oodles of people who have done small-time modeling/acting as babies and young children (including my boyfriend and his brother and sister), and not a one of them ever did pageants.

No it isn’t. That’s like saying adult fashion models do pageants; they don’t. The looks are totally different. If you brought a baby done up in pageant glitz to try out for, I dunno, a gerber commercial, they would laugh you out of the place.

I’m not saying there aren’t perils to this kind of thing (although I do think they are grossly overestimated for the average kid) but doing pageants isn’t one of them.

A friend of mine looked into this and she said that the pay is so low that it’s not worth the trouble (like $30 per job for still photo stuff). Maybe TV pays more. I haven’t verified this, just passing it along, but this friend is a rather savvy individual (ie, someone I would trust to look into all the angles).

Pay is quite low - you don’t need professional shots (no matter what anyone tells you).

Since kids grow and change so much you’ll need new shots about ever three months (again, you can take them yourself). Any reputable agency will take a kid and charge a percentage from what they make (nothing upfront). Don’t worry about class or training. They want kids to be kids.

Also, cuteness does not count for as much as you think - believe it or not, “beautiful” babies are easy to come by. A lot of agencies are now looking for those kids with “something” redheaded, freckles, coke-bottle glasses and gap-toothed? Perfect.

Also, yeah, kids that are mellow and easy going.

here is the real story. My daughter was an actress at 9, and her manager was a former child actor who was really concerned about parents getting ripped off. We also went undercover to one of these agencies. When she was born my wife’s roommate in the hospital was a working actress, and she did go to some baby auditions - unsuccessfully, as you will see.

Warning number one: Do not ever go with a so-called agency who will charge you for photos or direct you to someone who will charge you for photos. Babies change their appearance every week. You don’t need pictures for babies. You do need pictures for older kids, but my daughter got her first job with a picture taken by a friend, and only got her professional head shots after already working.

Second: your baby is cute. Almost all babies are cute. Directors don’t care about cute. Directors care about bringing in their ad/shoot whatever under budget. That means that a baby who can be separated from its parent without crying is going to beat out a cuter looking kid. Our daughter did not get jobs as a baby because she wasn’t great at separation, and because we lived far enough away from New York so that she was a bit cranky by the time she got there. So, DCnDC is correct.

Third, in Seattle you can start out slowly by finding a local commercial photographer who would be willing to give your baby a shot. We know one outside of Chicago who often uses the babies of friends.

Fourth, modeling is not unionized, and I’ve heard that getting your money is sometimes a pain. All I know is that my daughter who was a SAG member snuck in one non-union commercial when things were slow, and her manager had to work pretty hard to get her money.

Oh yeah, the rip off. We went to one of those get your child into TV places. They did the whole spiel, and showed some pictures of kids who got jobs supposedly through them. Then they separated everyone into individual rooms to give the results of the evaluation. (Because if we saw that everyone “passed” the jig would be up.)
There was a contract, which they would snatch away immediately. However they made the mistake of leaving us alone in the office. We found a copy in a desk, and took it. On the back, in very small print, they were forced by NJ law to give the percentage of kids who ever got jobs - tiny. Not something the average proud parent would have the chance to read.

Here was our manager’s evaluation. Their service was to send pictures to agents. But agents look at any pictures they get, and people could send their own without paying these clowns. The pictures are taken by a partner in crime, and are way overpriced. It was true that one kid who went through them got onto the Cosby show - but the first thing her parents did was to get her a real manager. In any case, as I said, for babies (who were most of the clients) pictures are totally worth it.

So, give it a shot, but don’t spend any money and be careful. And if the baby starts crying every time a casting director takes her, give up.

For TV, SAG and AFTRA jobs pay scale, which isn’t bad, and residuals, which are better. Kids make just as much as adults. Non-union jobs will pay less, of course.

I don’t know about representation for babies, but I would bet that a baby would have to have gotten a couple of jobs at least for a manager to be interested. I bet the eTrade baby has an agent.

My comment was more about “show-biz” parents than the possibility of little baby models deciding to go into pageants.

The coke and eating disorders are another story, however.

I have friends whose kids have modeled for clothing- they usually get to keep all the outfits they model. Several hundred dollars worth of clothing, usually 8-10 complete outfits, but no money involved.

When the Ledzepkid was preschool aged we went to one of those “bring you kid down and find out if they should be modeling” events. We got a call back and went to another event where we were told two agencies were interested. It turns out it was just going to be too much work. Both of us were working full time and we just weren’t going to be able to do casting calls and that sort of thing.

But it was really nice to know we weren’t the only people who thought our kid was adorable.

Thank you for your comments!

I have my own prejudices against beauty pageants and can guarantee that I will never enter my child into one.

But modeling seems different to me. It sounds like my best best is to find an agent in the Seattle area and submit photos. I’m very lucky in that a close relative is a semi-professional photographer, and we could turn to her for updated photos.

Baby Smaje is very friendly and personable, so I don’t think she’d cry her head off at a photo shoot. If anything, she’d try to eat the camera. But I think she’d be very good working with photographers and/or directors.

And for the next hour or so, I’m going to make available a photo of Baby Smaje on Flickr (but I’m going to change the settings back to private after that):

Having been to tons of casting directors in NY, with waiting rooms full of kids and parents, I’ve found the showbiz parent thing to be a myth. Kids go in for an audition alone. If a kid is being pressured by a parent and doesn’t actually want to do it, it shows up very quickly and the kid would never get a job. Almost all of the parents I’ve met on sets have been very nice also. One exception - a parent of an extra in a commercial who was pushing her kid to push to the front to get enough camera exposure to be upgraded to principal. So I know it is blah blah blah *Brooke shields * blah blah, but for the most part it is nonsense.