Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have thought about a Model Union before or a Model Alliance

Hey Girls,

I recently read an article in The New York Daily News about fellow model Sara Ziff and her pursuit for bringing a model alliance to the modeling industry. The article made me have a few questions.

I would be interested in learning more about it and being a part of it. Working as a print model for many years I would like to share some insight with Sara Ziff on the deciding factors of the structure of how models of all types can be a part of a model alliance. For the models, what would be the qualifications?

As a petite model, I am not a fashion model nor have worked in the fashion industry, as Sara Ziff targets in her films and within her advocating for the modeling industry. However I have worked with national brands and magazines and with professional commercial print agencies for many years. I am also an author and also advocate about the industry from a perspective of a shorter model on my blog and social media. Fashion is a small percent of the actual working models out there. Commercial print models work non-exclusive usually with more than one modeling agency and can make a lucrative amount of money but at the end of the day, like many fashion models, they are their business. Their business is themselves. The models file their own taxes as a sole proprietor or independent contractors, and often commercial print models are without health insurance unless they are married and their spouse has a health insurance plan. Or the commercial print models pay separate health insurance through Cobra or Atlantis Health Plan, etc., or perhaps gets it from a part-time job they work when they are not modeling.

Ziff is correct in saying that some provisions would be appreciated. On the job I have always been fed, but on one occasion I ended up working 4 extra hours and then added to the modeling jobs’ agenda, which I thought was only for print, was also video/ film shots. I did not receive any over time or compensation for this video usage, - although I was treated well on the job, fed, had breaks, and felt comfortable and was mainly happy about experience overall.

A lot of how models are treated comes down to the agent’s relationships with the client as well and professional agents do strive for professional experiences for their models. Models should be aware of what the job is for, the usage rights for the images, etc., and while shooting if there will be a meal, breaks, and the hours they will be working. And they should be asking their agency these questions before the job.

The article on Ziff and her efforts working with Fordham University's Fashion Law Institute intrigued me to ask if her mission includes commercial print models, and models who freelance with more than one modeling agency. Commercial print models are all ages, sizes and types and although they might not work with Ford, IMG, Wilhelmina, Marilyn, etc., they still work on big campaigns and are seen in national magazine editorials, and product ads. And although commercial print models might not be known by their first names, there are more working commercial print models out there than fashion models. So if there is an alliance, it should include all types and sizes and models working in all areas of the modeling industry, from a hand model to a fashion model, from a child model to a seventy year old in a pain killer ad. Perhaps this is on Ziff’s mind as well, but my questions are:

1. Would models of all sizes and types be able to be a part of a model alliance?

2. Would they have to be a fashion model at a fashion agency or would print models and print modeling agencies be involved as well?

3. What would qualify a model to be a part of the model alliance? Would it be similar to joining SAG? Would it cost the models money to join? Would a model need a certain amount of tear sheets, or have gained a curtained amount of money through modeling? What would qualify a model?

A lot of times in working as a model you are alone, you are sometimes working with models from different agencies but you are mainly out there for yourself, and I’ve encountered models before who have been mistreated on the job, so it makes me wonder, maybe a model alliance could also include a hot line you could call anonymously to report a concern or complaint on an experience? Or even share your high regards about a great experience.

I think Ziff’s effort and thought is awesome, I just wonder if it will include more than just the fashion industry. Modeling is a lot more than fashion modeling. The advertising world has helped to change the word “model” to mean all types, ages and all sizes, and the models you see modeling lifestyle products, accessories, cell phones, home goods, beauty products and much, much more, are definitely not just fashion models.

~Isobella Jade

You can read more here and feel free to leave your comments here or email me at if you have something to share about your thoughts on this?
Psst. The NY Daily News has featured my advocating for models of all sizes and my books previously here:

Finding the value in being small

1 comment:

CynthiaC said...

The thing is, since many models, especially those working as fashion/runway models are underage, being unionized may offer them extra protection as minors. There will be more specific rules that agencies, casting directors, designers, etc... may need to follow, especially for major shows and shoots, especially for those under 18 (hey, maybe we'll see more 18-25+ year old models, rather than teenagers who aren't even the target market for the clothes they're modelling - I could never understand that).